Bradley Beal and the Wizards face an uphill battle against the 76ers. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
- Washington Wizards enter playoffs as huge underdog vs. Sixers. Do they have a chance?
- Of course they do, and they even have an edge in experience and have played better lately.
- If Washington worth a first-round flyer wager? Strategy and reasoning explained in article below.
True or false? Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are the best teammate duo in the first round of the NBA playoffs between Washington and Philadelphia.
The unpopular answer is false, so let’s delve into that as we take a closer look at the team led by Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal that advanced to the postseason Thursday night by taking apart the Indiana Pacers 142-115 in their play-in game for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
The truth is debatable, so the important question to ask is this: Who has had the better spring?
Westbrook has had seven triple-doubles this month, just missing an eighth Thursday night. He will now go up against Simmons, whose last triple-double was March 17 in an overtime loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, one of four triple-doubles Simmons put together this season. Westbrook has had four of them since May 8, and he would have had a fifth Thursday night if it was necessary to leave him in the game for the final 8 minutes. It wasn’t, and he finished two rebounds shy of his 39th of the season.
This series begins Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia, with Game 2 Wednesday and Game 3 not until Saturday. That is a lot of extra time for Beal’s gimpy hamstring to heal.
Let’s look at how the books have this one pegged, and it should be noted that the Wizards vs. 76ers Game 1 odds include an over/under of 229.5 – the highest of the seven scheduled Game 1s – and a moneyline price of +225 on the Wizards for Game 1. Only the Celtics (+265) are longer.
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Sixers vs Wizards 1st Round Series Odds
|Team||Odds to Win Series at DraftKings|
Odds as of May 21st
Why Are the Wizards Such Huge Underdogs?
Good question. No first-round series has a bigger money line differential, although we have yet to see who comes out of the West with the No. 8 seed. If it is Memphis, we may see similar. Not so with Steph Curry and Golden State.
Washington went 0-3 vs Philadelphia in the regular season, but the games took place a long time ago. In their three matchups this season, Westbrook shot 10-for-19 on March 12, 8-for-18 on Jan. 6 and 9-for-22 on opening night.
But March 12 was more than two months ago, and since April 7 Washington is 18-6 wins in 24 games. Only the New York Knicks have a better win percentage over that span of time. Philadelphia went 14-7 over the same stretch, so the top-seeded Sixers are not exactly limping in.
Westbrook has 106 career playoff games on his tires, along with the exact type of competitive spirit that Philly coach Doc Rivers has been working all year to harness from Embiid, a finalist for MVP, and Simmons, a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year.
“Russell has an edge, guys, and I think the world should appreciate that,” said Brooks, who also coached Westbrook at the start of the point guard’s pro career with Oklahoma City. “He gives you everything. He’s a hooper. And sometimes, he’s an angry hooper.”
📸 5.20.21 // We won and we’re in. 📸#WizPacers | #DCAboveAll
— x – Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) May 21, 2021
Is There Any Value in Betting Washington to Win the Series?
Heck yeah, if you believe in them.
The only team with a price anywhere close to the Wizards is Boston at +700 against Brooklyn, and the Celtics will be without Jaylen Brown. (You can get the Nets to sweep that series at +250. Or, if you prefer throwing money away, you can get Boston in a sweep at +8000 at DraftKings.)
Washington to win in five games is +4000, in six games is +1600 and in seven games is +2000, which is interesting because the books are putting a lot of weight on the Sixers’ East-best home record of 29-7.
How playoff teams’ defenses performed this yr vs top-10 offenses:
Jazz 110.8 pts/100 allowed
Blazers 124.0 (!!!!!)
— Div B (@statcenter) May 21, 2021
Is Betting This Exact Outcome a Better Way to Profit?
The Wizards have not had a quality road victory since April 12th at Utah, but if you like them, the best wager is winning the series on the road in Game 6.
So the value comes from believing in the Wizards, who are going to need to get big performances from centers Daniel Gafford, Alex Len and Robin Lopez to neutralize Embiid. The other matchups that have to go the Wizards’ way are Rui Hachimura over Tobias Harris at power forward (possible, but not likely) and Deni Avdija/Davis Bertans over Danny Green at small forward (highly likely).
Harris may be the difference maker for the Sixers even though he is the least renowned of Philly’s best players. He shot a career-high 51.2 percent this season and averaged 19.5 points, and the Wizards are not renowned for their defense. They allowed 118.5 point per game – the most in the league. Hence the over/under for Game 1 being set at 229.5 -the highest of all seven of the Game 1s.
Go figure this tweet. It says here it is a sign of overconfidence.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) May 21, 2021
Chris Sheridan has been covering sports gambling since 2018 when PASPA was overturned. a veteran journalist with 30+ years experience covering sports for the Associated Press, ESPN, SheridanHoops and BasketballNews.com, he has been at the forefront of sports gambling coverage since it was legalized.