James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers are the right NBA pick for Thursday’s matchup with Harden’s former team, the Brooklyn Nets.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Thursday, March 10, 2022 – 07:30 PM EST at Wells Fargo Center
Motivation is a very real concern when you’re making your NBA picks. It might not be as important a betting angle as it was before the days of advanced stats and computer projections, but in the right situations, motivation can give a team the push it needs to score those valuable extra points and cover the spread.
Thursday’s game between the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers is one of those situations. The Sixers are 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS with James Harden in uniform; Harden will no doubt be very keen to show Brooklyn a thing or two after he and Paul Millsap were sent to Philadelphia in exchange for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Andre Drummond. That’s enough to make the Sixers our preferred choice as 4.5-point home faves on the NBA odds board at DraftKings.
Obviously, the Nets (33-33 SU, 26-38-2 ATS) will have some motivation of their own after Harden’s not-entirely-pleasant departure from the club. But it won’t be as personal for them. Maybe if Simmons were playing, he’d be laser-focused on sticking it to his former team after they blamed him for last year’s early playoff exit; unfortunately for Brooklyn, Simmons’s season debut has been delayed by lingering back issues.
At least the Nets have Kevin Durant back in the lineup – and they’ll have Kyrie Irving available for this road game. But Durant’s return also cuts into Brooklyn’s betting value; they’re 1-2 SU and ATS in the three games KD has played since coming off the injured list, after going 3-6 SU and 5-3-1 ATS in the wake of the Harden trade. Adding Goran Dragic to the buyout market hasn’t exactly helped their cause, either.
Most Violent Philly
Meanwhile, just because Simmons isn’t playing doesn’t mean that Embiid won’t enjoy dunking on the Nets. Thursday is a big game for Embiid in more ways than one – he’s this year’s MVP favorite, despite being outplayed by incumbent MVP Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets. Destroying Brooklyn on the league’s flagship cable program would definitely improve Embiid’s chances of winning.
Embiid can also take advantage of the depleted Nets frontcourt. LaMarcus Aldridge won’t be available for Brooklyn after he left the team to get an MRI on his injured hip this past Tuesday; Aldridge has been their best big man, and while Drummond and Nic Claxton aren’t too far behind, they’ll be under increased pressure to limit the damage Embiid will cause.
These motivational angles don’t make Philadelphia a five-star deadbolt lock by any means. Their edge over Brooklyn will be slim at –4.5, but it’s enough to make a reasonably small wager on Philly at this price. Bet accordingly.
NBA Pick: 76ers –4.5 (–110) at DraftKings