Philadelphia 76ers Leading Eastern Conference Race, But Nets And Bucks Remain Close

Welcome to the last hump of the Philadelphia 76ers regular season.

Fifteen games remain in the NBA regular season for the Sixers, who try taking their 39-18, Eastern Conference-leading record all the way to the wire.

New Jersey online bettors still obtain great value on the Sixers’ postseason odds, with Philadelphia trending under the radar.

Before hosting the Phoenix Suns and then visiting the Milwaukee Bucks for two games this week, the Sixers stack up as the sixth favorite team to win the NBA title.

They are an eye-opening +1200 at DraftKings Sportsbook and William Hill (Caesars).

Looking at the current NBA standings, the Sixers shouldn’t be ignored.  From an NBA betting perspective, however, a strong argument could be made regarding any one of the top-six teams.

A closer look at the DraftKings NBA odds

Heading into Wednesday night’s action, the Sixers still hold a half-game advantage over the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference standings. However, DraftKings still has the Nets at +240 to win the NBA crown, even with stars James Harden and Kevin Durant nursing injuries.

The Los Angeles Lakers, +350, are being bet as though stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis are still in their lineup. Davis may return this week, but James is not close.

The Lakers, currently the No. 5 seed in the West, look overbet and this enhances the values of other teams, like the Sixers.

The Los Angeles Clippers, whom the Sixers nudged last week in an exciting contest, are +650.

The Western-conference leading Utah Jazz are +700.

The Milwaukee Bucks, whom the Sixers lead by four games, are +750.

And then, only then, come the Sixers, at +1200.

Does anybody notice the 76ers?

ESPN does.

It put the Sixers atop their power rankings for the entire league at the beginning of the week.

Ahead of the Jazz in second, the Suns in third. and the Nets in fourth.

Philadelphia squandered some prestige by losing to the Golden State Warriors on Monday night, without ailing defensive stalwart Ben Simmons. Starting forward Tobias Harris also missed the game.

The Sixers also will have a hard time staying No. 1 after this week, but at least they began there. If they can match ESPN’s optimism, + 1200 is a steal.

Lining Up Bucks-76ers bets

Returnees Giannis Antetokounmpo (left knee), Donte DiVincenzo (right big toe), and key reserve P.J. Tucker (left calf) all played Monday, but could not prevent a 128-127 overtime loss by the Bucks to the Suns.

The Bucks, who lost their entire starting five at one point and suffered a 6-8 stretch, are getting key people back.

Just in time for the Sixers.

For Philadelphia, Simmons isn’t being rushed back but should return this week. Check his status before each game.

Milwaukee must sweep the Sixers Thursday and Saturday in order to maintain contention.

Betting odds will be fun to watch for these contests.

Will they anticipate the Bucks playing with desperation? What happens to the second-game line if the Sixers win the opener.?

It’s not easy to defeat the same team twice in a row with just one day off between games. How the betting line looks before the second game will be interesting. If the Bucks win Thursday night, do they pour everything into a sweep?

If the Sixers take the first game, do they rest some players for what would be their third game in four nights?

Philadelphia will put the Bucks away for the regular season with a split, or better.

Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, noticed the Eastern Conference juggling. But the money, right now, is out West.

“There is certainly some value out there to get once you look past the Nets and Lakers,” Avello, told NJ Gambling Sites. “The West is really loaded. Teams like the Suns are playing great. The Denver Nuggets are having a tremendous season, too.

“Right now, you’d have the Lakers as a fifth seed. Every game is a tough game for the teams in the West. Whoever wins that would probably end up playing the Memphis Grizzlies in the opening playoff round.

“That would be a bargain.

“When the playoffs begin, the betting atmosphere is going to be phenomenal,” he added. “Once that happens, these guys have to play every game. No more of the players resting.”

Why finishing first in the East matters

Few talk about the prize for winning the Eastern Conference regular season because teams want to be rested for the playoffs. And there is still some time left in it.

But this is a unique situation.

The top seed in the East could have major significance in the second round of the playoffs.

Should the Sixers win the conference, say with the Nets second, the Bucks third, and any number of teams fourth, here’s what happens if they all advance on cue through the first round.

The Sixers avoid the Nets and Bucks in round two and play the worst-seeded remaining team. The Nets and Bucks then go head-to-head and one of them is eliminated for the conference finals.

Winning the conference is a free trip around the Nets or Bucks.

But if the Sixers don’t win the conference, they will likely have to defeat both teams in a postseason series.

You will hear more of this as the season winds down.

Sixers, Nets, have different plans

The top seed is attainable for the Sixers because the Nets are coasting into the postseason, strategically resting players.

With a capital “R.”

Brooklyn has nursed Harden, Durant, and Kyrie Irving, who are the league’s highest paid players, intensely.  Combined, they played 99 of the first possible 171 games. When the season ends, the three stars will have the minutes of a player and a half.

But Durant and Irving are injury prone and the trio averages 80 points a game when healthy.

That’s the Brooklyn strategy. Get to the finish line and roll it all on the playoffs.

The Sixers, Nets, and Bucks run the Eastern Conference show. But tip your hat to the New York Knicks.

Find the person, if one exists, to have predicted that the longest NBA winning streak right now belongs to them.

Yes, the Knicks have won seven straight, are going to the playoffs, and surged all the way to +25000 (250-1) at DraftKings futures. They are half a game out of fourth.

Julius Randle, the runaway choice for the league’s most improved player, sparks the resurgence.

Dreamstime Photo

About the Author

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others.