Philadelphia 76ers Are No. 1, But Will NJ Bettors Cash In As NBA Playoffs Get Underway?

Posted By Dave Bontempo on May 17, 2021 - Last Updated on May 19, 2021

We can officially call season one, aka the regular season, a smashing success for the Philadelphia 76ers. It ended Sunday with a 128-117 victory against the Orlando Magic, concluding an exemplary 49-23 mark and earning them top seed throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.

It means New Jersey online bettors can pause, reflect and await Season Two, which starts with the first round of the playoffs this weekend.

The schedule is still being finalized as Philly’s first-round opponent is still TBD.

They will host either the Charlotte Hornets, Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers, or Washington Wizards.

Two from this group will survive a play-in tournament taking place Tuesday through Friday and the lowest seeded surviving team will play the Sixers.

Want to handicap the Sixers’ odds regarding their next opponent?

Here’s some warmup action via the play-in tournament.

Host Boston is a slight favorite over Washington Tuesday night and Indiana is a slight favorite over Charlotte. It’s an attractive NBA betting menu on spreads and moneylines.

76ers next foe will be determined this week

The play-in format brought exceptional creativity to the postseason and kept teams from throwing in the towel late in the regular season.

The play-in involves the seven through 10 seeds.

How it works in the East:

Boston, the No. 7 seed, hosts No. 8 Washington (Tuesday night at 9 p.m. on TNT). The winner cements the seventh playoff seed while the loser gets one more crack at the playoffs.

Indiana and Charlotte, the No. 9 and 10 seeds, respectively, also play (Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. on TNT). The loser goes home, the winner faces the Boston-Washington loser for the right to nail the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

The structure rewards the regular season. It determines that the seventh and eighth regular-season seeds need to win one game, the nine and 10 seeds must win two, to reach the playoffs.

This was an excellent administrative addition to the league.

How 76ers fared during the regular season

Here’s an overview of Philadelphia’s potential first-round opponents. The Sixers went 11-1 against the group. Here’s a recap:

  • Sixers went 3-0 versus the Wizards, dominating the most recent contest with a 26-point victory
  • Swept the Celtics 3-0, winning all three by eight points or more
  • Topped Charlotte in three regular-season meetings, with two of the wins being 15 points or more
  • The lone defeat came last week versus the Pacers, 103-94, but Philly is 2-1 overall this season

It is inconceivable that any of these teams would defeat the Sixers in a seven-game series. But that, as you know, is why they play the games.

Although the opening round is not expected to be difficult, the value of Philadelphia’s regular-season accomplishment will increase with each series.

Looking far ahead, if the chalk wins all the first-round matchups, the Sixers would play the Atlanta HawksNew York Knicks in the second round.

The Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks would have to play each other, eliminating one major conference threat

The Sixers earned the No. 1 seed for the first time in 20 years. That’s when their stars were Allen Iverson, Aaron McKie, and Dikembe Mutombo. They reached the NBA finals before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now it’s Joel Embiid leading the way with a supporting cast that includes Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Shake Milton, and Seth Curry, among others.

Philadelphia 76ers stay in Brooklyn Nets’ shadow

The Sixers remain a good postseason betting value, although not as lofty as a few days back.

The Brooklyn Nets, who played on autopilot all season while resting key players, are -115 to win the Eastern Conference at William Hill and the +250 favorite to win it all at DraftKings Sportsbook.

The Los Angeles Lakers, believe it or not, are the second-choice +400 to win the NBA championship. The defending champs are a play-in team, seeded seventh in the Western Conference. The Sixers (+700) and Bucks (+800) are being overlooked on the presumption they can’t get past the Nets. Both numbers are from DraftKings.

The Sixers are +300 to win the East, while the Bucks are +350, at William Hill.

The biggest difference in prices from last week is the Sixers taking a plunge from +1200 to a more realistic +700, at DraftKings to win it all.

However, winning the conference’s top-six teams are getting hot at the right time.  The Sixers, Nets, Bucks, Knicks, Hawks, and Miami Heat finished a combined 18-1.

They bring momentum to the postseason.

What about the other NBA first-round matchups?

The No. 2 Nets will play the seven seed. Like the Sixers, they will be extremely favored.

The third-seeded Bucks will be the chalk against the sixth-seeded Miami Heat. The feisty Miami team could pick off a game or two in this series and is playing well but will have an uphill climb.

The Knicks, who finished fourth, will host the fifth-seeded  Hawks in what should be a tight series. A couple of individual-game moneyline upsets are possible.

When looking at the East as a whole, the Nets and Sixers, took different paths to get here.

Brooklyn finished just behind the Sixers with their stars playing a little more than 120 of a possible 216 team games.

What a trio they are, however.

James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant almost never play at the same time. But they average about 78 points per game between them.

That’s why the NJ online sportsbooks have never wavered with them. The Nets have been the favorite ever since obtaining Harden at the beginning of the season.

The Nets hit a soft spot a couple of weeks back, enabling the Sixers to go on the run that brought them the regular-season title.

But the Nets also said enough was enough, overcoming a 21-point road deficit to defeat the Denver Nuggets and launch their season-ending five-game win streak.

The Sixers, Nets, and Knicks all hit the over on their season-long bets.

Gamblers and books have believed, all season, that the Nets could turn up the intensity whenever they want to excel in the playoffs

Betting analysis of the Sixers, Nets, and Knicks

The Sixers and Nets will be likely favored by double digits in their home first-round matchups.

A definitive game-opening romp to establish a series tone would not be out of the question.

If the point spreads are ridiculous, consider moneyline parlays with these two chalks.

The Knicks have done their best work in low-scoring games.

Now NJ bettors are just waiting to find out who the Sixers will play next.

Photo by AP/Matt Slocum
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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. He writes significantly about the emerging world of legal New Jersey sports betting.

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