Is this the mid-season run people expected or has a new age dawned for Joel Embiid?
Either way, some New Jersey online sports bettors rejoice for having taken him at +5000 in the NBA MVP race at Caesars Sportsbook as recently as a couple of weeks back.
That’s because the Philadelphia 76ers center took off like a rocket in the MVP odds at Caesars and became the +260 favorite. He notched an even-shorter +220 price Sunday night at DraftKings Sportsbook in this fast-moving prop.
It’s a meteoric rise in a short time.
The Sixers’ big man has been averaging more than 34 points and 10 rebounds per game on a recent run. That propelled him past an elite group of performers.
Joel Embiid MVP odds at NJ sportsbooks
A closer look at the current NBA MVP race
At Caesars, Embiid surged by former MVP’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (+325) and Stephen Curry (+425).
He surpassed reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, now +350
Ja Morant, the rising star for the Memphis Grizzlies is fifth at +1300. Then there is Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets (+3000).
Here’s the rest of the top 5 behind Embiid at DraftKings as of early Monday afternoon:
- Jokic +300
- Antetokounmpo +350
- Curry +400
- Morant +1200
Sixers riding Embiid’s coattails
Embiid has been consistent, clicking at more than 29 points and nearly 11 rebounds for the entire year.
He simply went way above and beyond for the past few games and took the Sixers with him.
They brought a 12-2 record for January into the final day of the month. Embiid is getting the night off against Memphis for rest purposes.
They had improved to 30-19 and overtaken the Brooklyn Nets (29-20) for first place in the Atlantic Division.
That’s right, the first-place Sixers.
Some New Jersey bettors told PlayNJ that they recently jumped aboard the Embiid MVP train.
They will likely straddle the betting odds on this wager throughout the season. That means betting some money now, re-investing if his odds go up later and accumulating a nice ticket over the course of the campaign.
Does the strategy sound familiar? Well, it was a technique New Jersey bettors rode to the Bryce Harper winners circle in July, August and September.
Many took a stake while the Phillies’ slugger hovered around +800 in his chase for the National League MVP Award in late July. They made a bet and then watched.
When Harper’s odds dropped, they waited. When he inched back up, they invested more.
By the time he became chalk in September, a number of bettors owned a strong position. Harper paid handsomely to those who backed him early.
Why Joel Embiid had been a longshot
He missed nine games because of Covid-19 earlier in the season. It was a slow road back and he stayed well under any MVP radar.
The Sixers, by extension, were going nowhere at the end of 2021. They had lost to the Atlanta Hawks at home and become 16-16.
Even the most optimistic supporters believed they’d end the season slightly above .500 and capture a bottom-rung playoff berth.
And then Embiid caught fire.
Look at this recent six-pack, bolstered by double-digit rebounds in most cases:
- 50-point game against the Orlando Magic
- 40 against the Los Angeles Clippers
- 38 against the San Antonio Spurs
- 42 against the New Orleans Pelicans
The 26 points against the Los Angeles Lakers may have seemed like a down game.
And then 36 against the Sacramento Kings in the final weekend in January.
One story emerging is Embiid’s ability to take over games.
Another is an improving supporting cast that may help alleviate pressure on him.
The Sixers may finally be adjusting to the absence of Ben Simmons. He was always a short price at the books for defensive player of the year award and complemented that with 14 points, seven rebounds and seven assists per game.
But his postseason free-throw shooting meltdown and criticism from fans led to a “sulk-out” this year.
That means he is sulking over the criticism and sitting out this season, so far. He wants a trade, but suitors have been hard to locate near the looming Feb. 10 deadline.
Philadelphia’s 50th game without him is Jan. 31.
Slowly, the Sixers are starting to make up for Simmons.
One player who has stepped forth is Tyrese Maxey. He is enjoying a breakthrough season.
Maxey has gone from 8.0 points per game last year to 16.5.
He has advanced from 1.7 rebounds to 3.5 and has improved from 2.0 assists to 4.7.
Joel Embiid and NBA MVP race still has a long way to go
The rise of Maxey helps Embiid, who has been summoning memories of last season. That’s when he outplayed all the front runners, even outshining sportsbook leader LeBron James while standing second in the odds.
Embiid eventually blew by James and assumed the top spot. But a knee injury slowed him down and the Sixers rested him for the playoffs. Embiid bowed from MVP consideration
Several players, including James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets, made sustained MVP runs in the past few weeks. But the last one went to Jokic, who took the honors.
Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, kept saying “there’s a long way to go” when different players made MVP runs last spring.
The only tangible edge for gamblers, and it was good, was that James was being over bet, just as the Lakers were regarding the NBA championship.
This bestowed more value to other players.
That isn’t the case this year.
The hot NJ sports betting potato
The NBA MVP race is one of the most enjoyable for bettors to embrace. Throughout the season, many contestants occupy the throne.
The DraftKings model had Durant in front for a while. He got hurt.
And then it was Curry and Antetokounmpo for a month.
And now, while it lasts, is the Embiid Era.
Sixers rumors and tips
The 76ers odds are +120 at Caesars and +110 at DraftKings to win the Atlantic Division. The Sixers plunging number went from +125 to +110 early Monday morning. This projects belief that the injury-plagued Nets won’t focus on the division crown. Key players will miss substantial time
Both Harden and Durant are hurt for the Nets, who finished January on a four-game losing streak.
Durant will be out through most of February and Harden is hobbling with hamstring problems and an injury to his non-shooting hand.
Hamstring problems are long-term. Will that enter the mind of Sixers management stalking a Harden-for-Simmons deal? Harden would be a potential title piece, sure, but he is becoming more injury-prone.
New Jersey bettors don’t know if the Sixers will bolster themselves at the Feb. 10 trade deadline.
But they do know that, right now, Embiid is on fire.
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