James Harden has been a tremendous road show.
Now Sixers fans and New Jersey bettors welcome him home.
The rejuvenated Sixers play at the Wells Fargo Center for four of the next five games, which includes the New York Knicks on Wednesday and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.
They visit the Miami Heat on Saturday, return to host the Chicago Bulls next Monday, and the Brooklyn Nets on March 10.
Harden has delivered as advertised in his first two games for the Sixers, who traded Ben Simmons, Andre Drummond, Seth Curry, and draft picks to get the superstar. He came along with backup Paul Millsap in early February.
In two games, Harden tallied 27 points with eight rebounds and 12 assists as the Sixers pounded the Minnesota Timberwolves 133-102 last Friday night.
And on Sunday, he produced 29 points, 10 rebounds, and a whopping 16 assists, not to mention a perfect 10-for-10 from the line, as the Sixers walloped the New York Knicks 125-109.
Bettors are celebrating, too. The Sixers covered -2.5 across NJ sportsbooks at Minnesota and -7.5 against the Knicks.
The over also romped in both games.
Here come the Harden triple-double props. Here come the Harden-Embiid combo props.
New Jersey bettors may be revving up a profitable Sixers ride.
Harden Elevates Sixers’ Chemistry
Harden clicked instantly with Embiid, giving the Sixers’ center some reliable help.
Embiid delivered 37 points, nine rebounds, four blocked shots, and he hit 23 of 27 free-throw attempts against the Knicks. Against Minnesota, Embiid tallied 34 points with 10 boards and three assists.
The 28 points from Tyrese Maxey gave the Sixers 89 points from three players.
This next stretch of games could complete a celebratory first phase of the Harden era.
“Without a doubt, there has been a rise in the money being bet on the Sixers games and it has been going on the Sixers,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told NJGS.
“The gamblers feel that this trade has made the Sixers a much better team. Any time you get a trade in which it looks like an improvement to the team, you are going to get an uptick in that team’s betting.”
“In the case of the Sixers, it looks like people are starting to feel like this is a more complete team,” he added. “Maybe Harden has filled a position that was missing.”
Harden has produced tangible results, starting by taking heat off of Embiid. Harden can hit the threes, he can find Embiid in the paint, or swing the ball over to Maxey, who has been emerging as a solid player all year.
Maxey tallied 49 points in the last two games. Opponents had to respect Harden, who could find Maxey with the pass in prime shooting position.
Harden has raised the bar for several players, starting with himself. He was disgruntled in Brooklyn, where the continued absence of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant thwarted the Nets’ famed triumvirate, which included Harden.
The Nets have been skidding and suffered an embarrassing home blowout to the Toronto Raptors, 133-97, at the end of February. They lost a 109-108 heartbreaker one night later to become a pedestrian 32-31.
Philadelphia 76ers’ Odds At NJ Sportsbooks
Embiid has been revitalized. He was playing the best basketball of his life, but the Sixers were still 32-22 at one point, their fortunes linked to however well he played.
Their last home game was a disaster, a whopping 48-point loss to the Boston Celtics.
They rebounded with a road victory against the Milwaukee Bucks one night later, without Harden, and secured two more road triumphs with him.
This is what the books tell gamblers regarding immediate expectations for the Sixers:
Sixers’ title odds have value
Here was the DraftKings Sportsbook championship futures board on March 1:
- Phoenix Suns +380
- Golden State Warriors +450
- Brooklyn Nets +475
- Philadelphia 76ers +700
- Milwaukee Bucks +750
The sentiment indicates lingering support for the Nets, who have been floundering. There are only 19 games remaining for them in the 2022 regular-season campaign, but the betting reflects the belief they will catch postseason fire.
The expectation on Brooklyn’s end is that the eventual return of Irving, along with Durant and a supposedly-motivated Simmons, will make the Nets dangerous.
Although the Nets are slowly sliding down the board, they have enough betting respect to prop up the odds of other teams, like the Sixers.
Sixers’ odds to win the Eastern Conference have value
The odds to win the East are as follows:
- Nets +250
- Bucks +350
- Sixers +370
- Miami Heat +475
The Boston Celtics, who have been searing, represent excellent value at +950.
In the battle for home-court advantage throughout the conference playoffs, the Sixers trailed the Heat by two games in the loss column entering March.
A No. 1 seed would be worth three rounds of home-court advantage if a team can take it that far. The Sixers failed to utilize the No. 1 seed last year, losing in the second round to the Atlanta Hawks.
NJ sportsbooks expect Sixers to win
What about regular-season win totals? Books expect big things from the Sixers.
They entered March at 37-23, with 22 games remaining.
DraftKings considered the Sixers -130 to hit the over 51.5-win total. That means there’s an expectation that the Sixers will win at least 15 of their final 22 games.
This is a heavy expectation, and it’s favored.
Embiid leads MVP race
The Sixers’ center had jostled between first and third throughout February. He exited the month as the -110 chalk at DraftKings to claim the award.
Nikola Jokic is second at +260. Giannis Antetokounmpo comes in next at +550, while Ja Morant is fourth at +1000.
DeMar DeRozan rounded out the top 5 at +1200.
A couple of betting wrinkles at Caesars:
The Sixers’ center is +100 to win the MVP, establishing a slight edge to Embiid backers.
The Nets are +300 to win the conference. Most of the other prices on the NBA futures are similar.
Sixers need to win at home
They hit March as a pedestrian 16-13 team at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers have been dominant there in recent years.
They also need to erase the memory of a 135-87 setback to the Boston Celtics a couple of weeks ago.
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