What The 76ers, Nets, And Knicks Are Playing For Heading Into Final Week Of NBA Regular Season

Written By Dave Bontempo on May 6, 2021
76ers NBA Playoffs

Talk about the magic of surprise. Garden State online sports bettors embrace an NBA rarity with the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, and New York Knicks being stellar, together.

All three will finish the regular season next week in the NBA top tier.  All three will reward “over” bettors for their season-long wagers at major sportsbooks.

These teams could face each other in the NBA Playoffs.

And nobody saw it coming.

As the Sixers conclude their scorching putaway drive on the Atlantic Division, including weekend home games against the New Orleans Pelicans and Detroit Pistons, let’s unravel this pleasant NBA development.

Sixers are on fire

The Sixers currently own the league’s longest win streak of six, along with a two-game division margin with six games remaining. It plays like three because they hold the tiebreaker over the Nets by virtue of winning the regular-season series.

Forget the Ghost of Rodney Dangerfield roaming the sportsbook parlors, allowing the 76ers odds to lurk at +1200 to win a championship at DraftKings and William Hill. Even the  +440 to win the Eastern Conference at DraftKings and +400 at William Hill shows no respect.

The Nets have three of the league’s highest-paid players and coast through the regular season on autopilot, still occupying William Hill’s favored role of +225 to win the NBA championship. This makes the Sixers a good betting value.

They made a definitive late-season statement, soaring above where their sportsbook odds place them and conducting a gravy-train ride for New Jersey bettors.

Wednesday’s 135-115 romp over the Houston Rockets continues their dominance over the NBA’s second-tier teams.  Five of the six recent wins are authoritative covers.

As the team stalks a title, some gamblers will celebrate early this weekend. Depending upon where they placed the wager, “over” gamblers on the Sixers’ win total of 45.5 will soon have their tickets stamped.

Cha-Ching is a lock.

A weekend sweep would also put the Sixers on the verge of clinching homecourt throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Time for 76ers to wrap up the Atlantic Division

Philadelphia’s imminent division title will soon get more attention.

It’s a second-round gift, a pass to avoid either the Milwaukee Bucks or the Nets, who still tower above them at the books.

The Nets are -112 to win the conference and the Bucks are +350, (DraftKings). However, one of them will be eliminated from the dance if they meet, as expected, in the second round. That’s one less titan the Sixers will have to beat.

Guess who they could play instead in round two?

The Knicks.

The 76ers have played with angry resolve since taking a 132-94 pummeling from the Bucks a couple of weeks ago. Here’s what they did:

  • Blasted the Oklahoma City Thunder by 31 points
  • Torched the Atlanta Hawks, currently fifth in the division, by 44 points.
  • Two nights later, they repeated the gesture versus the Hawks, by 22.
  • Won three more on the road

After a two-point nail-biter over the San Antonio Spurs, they drubbed the Chicago Bulls by 12 and the Houston Rockets by 20.

This is what potential champions do.

Embiid’s MVP-like numbers setting the 76ers tone

The 76ers have ridden the career year of Joel Embiid _ 29 points and nearly 11 rebounds per game. He will likely finish second in the MVP race to Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets. Ben Simmons will probably finish second as the top defensive player behind Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz.

Simmons may answer his team’s call to be more aggressive in the paint.  For prop considerations, see if his point totals improve down the stretch.

A supporting cast of Tobias Harris, Shake Milton, Seth Curry, and Danny Green makes them well-rounded. They may play and score more if the Sixers rest Embiid after the division clinch.

Interestingly, the Sixers and Nets had identical win season-long projections at most books. But the Nets have been the betting darlings to win the title all year long.

What’s behind that?

“The NBA changes like the wind on a daily basis regarding who is playing and who is out,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told PlayNJ. “Teams are not going to kill themselves to win the division. Their interest is in the playoffs. The way the good teams feel about it is that they can win if they truly are the best team.”

Will the Nets’ spending spree pay off for bettors?

The Nets epitomize Avello’s statement. They were transformed overnight by signing the talented but injury-prone Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.  They traded for superstar James Harden at the beginning of the season.

What a tab. The Nets have nearly an eye-popping $115 million investment.

How expensive are these three players?

They create a fantasy prop _ “Tuvalu and the under.” The country of Tuvalu has a gross domestic product of $47 million. Double it and the entire country still has less than three NBA players.

The Nets guard their domestic product like Fort Knox, playing their stars sparingly and hoping to hit full stride in the playoffs.

Their price for this strategy: winning an extra game on their opponents’ floor in the deeper playoff rounds.

Last year, the Nets were a weak team and the Knicks were bad. This year, both join the Sixers in the playoffs.

 Time for Knicks to take a bow

The Knicks’ over-under win total was 22, less than half of the Sixers and Nets. When the Sixers pummeled them 109-89 in the second game of the season, they resembled the same old Knicks.

But now look.

Julius Randle is the runaway winner of the league’s most improved player at DraftKings. His 24 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists produced a breakout season that keyed the Knicks into a playoff spot.

R.J. Barrett adds more than 17 points a game and Derrick Rose 14. The Knicks are also a strong defensive team.

They are fighting, dare we say it, for a home-court edge against the Hawks in the opening round. Watch them in the last regular-season week, they will have something to play for.

Photo by Dreamstime
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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 others. He writes about all major sports in the booming legal New Jersey sports betting industry. Dave also hosts the Why Eagles Why podcast. Dave is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame and the Atlantic City International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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