Minus Joel Embiid, the Philadelphia 76ers are a value NBA pick this Tuesday when they host the tired and weary New York Knicks.
New York Knicks vs. Philadelphia 76ers
at Wells Fargo Center
We’re about to learn just how good the “other” Philadelphia 76ers really are. Joel Embiid will miss the next 2-3 weeks for the Sixers (27-12 SU, 22-16-1 ATS) with a bone bruise in his left knee; Embiid was making a run at the MVP award, lifting his team to the top of the Eastern Conference standings before he went on the shelf last weekend. Will Philadelphia fall behind now that their best player is out of commission?
Maybe, but I’m more concerned about whether the Sixers are the right NBA pick for Tuesday’s matchup with the New York Knicks (20-20 SU, 23-17 ATS). As a general rule, it’s a good idea to bet on teams that have lost their superstars, counting on the betting public to over-react and push the lines too far towards the other side. It’s an even better idea when the short-handed team in question still has plenty of talent on the hoof – which is definitely the case in Philly. They look like a bargain at –6 on the NBA odds board at FanDuel as we go to press.
Philadelphia Freedom Embiid (plus-2.7 VORP) isn’t the only All-Star on the Sixers roster. Ben Simmons (plus-1.6 VORP) is enjoying another quality season at point guard, playing excellent defense while posting 17.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 8.2 assists per 36 minutes. Granted, the big Aussie doesn’t have any perimeter chops to speak of, but on this particular team, it’s not even close to being a problem. That’s because the 76ers are replete with outside shooting. Joining Tobias Harris (plus-1.5 VORP) this year are Seth Curry (plus-0.1 VORP) and Danny Green (plus-0.5 VORP), two important offseason additions to the roster. The Sixers don’t take a lot of threes, but Harris (40.2 percent), Curry (43.6 percent) and Green (38.4 percent) have been making enough of them to unclog the paint for Embiid and Simmons. The same formula should work now that Tony Bradley (plus-0.2 VORP) and Dwight Howard (minus-0.2 VORP) are soaking up Embiid’s minutes.
Leaving New York The early returns have been promising. In their first game since Embiid’s latest trip to sick bay, Philadelphia absolutely crushed the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, winning 134-99 as 5-point home faves. That was their fifth win in a row SU and ATS; the Sixers went 15-for 29 from downtown, while Bradley and Howard combined for 12 points, 16 rebounds and six assists. Philly’s frontcourt should have another relatively easy time against New York. They’re without center Mitchell Robinson (plus-0.6 VORP), one of their best young prospects – as well as several other important players. Plus, the Knicks are playing on zero days of rest after gamely losing 117-112 to the Brooklyn Nets as 8.5-point road dogs. It’s a difficult spot in what’s otherwise been a competitive season for one of the NBA’s longest-suffering franchises – certainly more difficult that it is for the Sixers sans Embiid.
NBA Pick: 76ers -6 (-112) at FanDuel