76ers vs. Suns Odds
|Time||6 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
We have ourselves a treat on Sunday night as Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns host the Philadelphia 76ers. This will be a battle of the two number one seeds in each respective conference and could easily be a preview of the NBA Finals.
This game features another entertaining narrative – former teammates Chris Paul and James Harden will face off against each other.
The red-hot Suns will look to build on a seven game winning streak. Can they keep the streak going against the 76ers? Let’s break down this marquee matchup below.
The 76ers’ injury report looks slim and they appear healthy and ready to test their mettle against the defending Western Conference champions.
They are 11-4 since Harden joined the team. The record is about what was expected, but they are only 7-7 against the spread and their wins have not exactly been inspiring. Harden still appears to be dealing with a hamstring injury and visibly lacks the explosiveness he had when he was with the Rockets.
Philly has now won three in a row and will look to make a strong push here at the end of the season. The ‘Sixers need to tighten up their chemistry and lineups in advance of the playoffs and make sure they maintain favorable seeding as the Eastern Conference is extremely competitive this season. The Celtics, Heat and Bucks are all within a half a game of Philadelphia.
Because of this, you can expect the 76ers to bring their best defensive effort. They have been one of the best defensive teams all season long. Philly is ranked ninth in Defensive Rating (109.6) per NBA Advanced Stats and has continued this level even after the trade for Harden.
The Suns received a pleasant surprise last game with Chris Paul returning to the lineup much earlier than the originally anticipated six-to-eight weeks timeline for his fractured thumb.
Phoenix is the first team to reach 60 wins and it has wrapped up the number one seed. This team has been incredible and looks poised to take care of unfinished business and win the championship this season.
With the top seed locked up, I question the Suns’ motivation toward the end of the season as teams in this situation tend to get complacent.
In addition to that, the Suns have returned home from a three-game road trip. They will play this one game at home and then embark on another three-game road trip. I don’t see them being all that motivated to run and keep up the tempo, especially on a weekend game. I can see the 76ers controlling the tempo with their slower pace of play.
Cameron Johnson, Dario Saric and Frank Kaminsky remain out for tomorrow’s game against the 76ers. JaVale McGee is also out with an illness. Expect more minutes for Bismack Biyombo with McGee out as they try to combat Embiid.
More Biyombo is an under bettor’s dream. The pace slows down dramatically when he is in the game, he improves the team defense and he provides very little on the offensive end.
As I shared in my NBA totals report this week, there is one late season system that has been profitable over the years. Since the 2015-2016 season, regular season games between elite teams (defined as those with a 60% win percentage and greater) in February or later are 136-91-1 (59.9%) to the under, per our Bet Labs tool. This applies for both of these teams.
It may seem counter-intuitive to bet the under on these two strong offenses, but my projected score for this game is in the mid 220s. I expect a strong defensive effort between these two teams. I also think the 76ers are a bit more motivated and will control the pace with their slow tempo.
Finally, two words: Bismack Biyombo. His presence and increased minutes should slow down the scoring on both ends. I’ll take the under at 229, and would play it down to 227.
Pick: Under 229 (play down to 227)