On the back of Joel Embiid’s MVP-caliber season, the Philadelphia 76ers (24-12) hold a half-game lead on the new-look, Kevin Durant-led Brooklyn Nets (24-13) in the Atlantic Division.

Photo: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

With one game in hand on the Nets, the Sixers can extend their lead to a full game in Chicago tonight. But oddsmakers recognize that there is a lot of season to play – exactly half of the 72-game slate for Philadelphia – and they don’t like the Sixers’ chances of holding off the Nets.

Even before Blake Griffin was added to the Brooklyn roster, the Nets’ NBA divisional odds were in the -200 range, while the Sixers were back at +183. As of mid-March, the odds are very similar.


In what is clearly a two-team race, the odds suggest Brooklyn has about a 65% chance to win compared to Philly at about 35%.


One of the main reasons for this is point differential. Brooklyn has a +5.0 point differential, which is second-best in the Eastern Conference and 1.5 points better than Philadelphia. Point differential is seen as a fairly accurate depiction of teams’ true strength, and the current stats suggest Brooklyn is the better overall team.

Another factor weighing against Philadelphia is that, of their 36 remaining games, only 17 are at home, and 19 are on the road. Philly’s futility away from Wells Fargo is not as pronounced as it was last year when they went 12-26 on the road. But currently sitting at 8-9 in road games this season, it’s clear that the road-heavy back-half of the schedule is a bigger impediment to this team than it would be for others (including Brooklyn, which is 11-7 on the road).


When Embiid’s injury history is added in (he’s never played in more than 78% of games in a regular-season), bettors have quite a few reasons to fade Philly going forward.

Featured Image: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports
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