Philadelphia 76ers backers must interpret a strange interruption to their NBA betting playoff party.
It continues Tuesday in round two, Game 2, with the Sixers hosting the Atlanta Hawks as medium-sized NJ online spots betting favorite.
But the post-season celebration, enlivened after the Sixers had dispatched the Washington Wizards in a five-games, has been threatened. It’s more subdued, and the music is softer.
With the Sixers losing Game 1 on Sunday, 128-124, they won’t have the luxury of breezing through the second round. That would have let them relax and watch the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks make the other conference semifinal a draining marathon.
Brooklyn leads that series 1-0 before tonight’s Game 2 and remains the DraftKings favorite at +160 to win the NBA championship. That’s even without star James Harden, who suffered a hamstring injury 43 seconds into its 115-107 Game 1 win on Saturday.
The Nets are slight favorites for the second game and will be without Harden.
The books forecast the Sixers at least making temporary amends after the stunning loss to the Hawks. Stunning is a fitting term being that the Sixers had NBA MVP finalist Joel Embiid back in the starting lineup. He scored 39 points.
The gamblers who had taken the Sixers at betting odds of -2.5 on Friday when it looked like Embiid would be sidelined got a great deal.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t cash in.
Assessing the 76ers odds after Game 1
Bettors have two assessments on the Sixers, based on how the game ended.
Embiid played Sunday through a small right tear in his meniscus. Besides the 39 points, he collected nine rebounds and four assists in 38 minutes. The Sixers lost with him after blowing out the Hawks by 66 points in two April contests essentially without him.
New Jersey bettors were practically all in on the Sixers. DraftKings reported that 64% of the moneyline handle backed them at -205.
And 78% of the gamblers took the Sixers -4.5. A high number of players undoubtedly took both bets.
Sixers backers were rewarded in one category at least and that would be total points. DraftKings reported 58% of the customers took over 220.5.
They likely profited in another area too.
Plus, you can’t ignore Atlanta’s Trae Young’s value on the prop board. He rang the bell twice for bettors on Sunday. His line of over 2.5 for three-pointers was the most popular prop bet at DraftKings. He produced four and rewarded bettors at +125.
Young also had 35 points, far above the 27 needed to bring home an over-under bet on his point total, at -117. That was the second most highly-bet prop.
Look for him to be a big prop target Tuesday as well.
William Hill offered a boosted odds special on Sunday. Take the Sixers and the Los Angeles Clippers on the Moneyline and get +140. The Clippers, who eliminated the Dallas Mavericks with a 126-111 victory, came through. The Sixers did not.
The other viewpoint on Joel Embiid and company
It never happened. The Sixers trailed by 26 before nearly stealing the game late. They found themselves. Momentum will carry over into Game 2. Take a mulligan. The Hawks hit 20 of 47 three-pointers and the 76ers must make sure it doesn’t happen again.
DraftKings underscored that sentiment, installing the Sixers at a decided -4.5 and a -180 on the moneyline for Game 2. Within an hour, it moved up to -5 and -195 on the moneyline.
And as of Monday morning, it moved to -210.
More along that vein, the Sixers showed they can stand up around Embiid too. Tobias Harris had 20 points and 10 rebounds, Seth Curry had 21 points and Ben Simmons delivered 17 points and 10 assists in Game 1. However, Simmons only made three of 10 free-throw attempts.
Harris and Simmons produced winning prop-bet double-double tickets for bettors.
The over-under of 222.5 for Game 2 projects 30 fewer points than the opener and below the teams’ combined 227-point average. It reflects the expectation that the Sixers, who were slow defensively in the opener, will snap back to form.
How will James Harden’s absence impact the Nets’ odds?
Bettors handicap a reduced Harden influence. This is the same hamstring that saw him miss over a month before returning for the final week of the regular season.
Harden then returned to play in two games before the postseason began, and he had no issues in Brooklyn’s five-game destruction of the Boston Celtics in the opening round.
In his Game 1 absence, Brooklyn got a balanced scoring attack with 29 points from Kevin Durant, 25 from Kyrie Irving, 19 from Joe Harris and 18 from Blake Griffin.
Betting confidence remains high on the Nets in Game 2.
They were listed as -2 at BetMGM with a moneyline of -125.
But do you feel lucky?
Think they can win by five points or more, as they did in Game 1? Take that prop and get +135.
Handicapping 76ers odds for NBA Eastern Conference finals
So what happens if the Sixers right this ship?
They will play the Nets, against whom they were 2-1, or the Bucks, who swept them 3-0.
The 76ers never faced a full Nets team, but did beat then twice at home. They were blown out of the water against the Bucks, going 0-3 and suffering their worst blowout of the season, 132-94, on April 24.
Four days later, they crushed the Hawks by 44 points. Two nights later, it was by 22.
But here they are in a different place against the fifth-seeded team. Suddenly the Hawks have won four straight, including the three clinching victories against the New York Knicks.
Suddenly, the 76ers face their first must-win of the season Tuesday and then must seize a road victory. They play Friday and Monday in Atlanta.
The optimistic bettor thinks the Nets and Bucks will have a long draining series and the Sixers will play the winner.
The pessimist believes they won’t beat the Hawks.
The realist is in between.