The Sixers are only going to go as far as Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid can take them, and they ain’t going far if a dislocated kneecap and bum ankle keep those two sidelined during the NBA playoffs.
Injuries to their two superstars have impacted the Sixers’ odds in the NBA championship market substantially, with Philadelphia now listed at an ugly +8500 at FanDuel Sportsbook.
Not only is this a crushing blow to the legions of folks who put their money on Philly to win it all over the past several weeks – something that was happening quite a bit in the booming sports gambling markets of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but it is likely a blow to the long-term job prospects of general manager Elton Brand and coach Brett Brown, the latter of which has been around since the bad old days of Sam Hinkie.
Brand has made numerous changes to the roster in order to build and rebuild around Simmons and Embiid, and now his latest acquisitions – including Al Horford and Tobias Harris – are going to be asked to carry a bigger load than either of them have carried in their NBA careers.
Sportsbooks reacting to 76ers’ injuries
The Sixers go into Tuesday night’s game against the Suns sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. So it seems likely that they will wind up in a first round best-of-seven matchup with the rival Boston Celtics, who have gone 4-2 in the Orlando bubble.
“We moved them from 25-1 to 60-1, because they are now dealing with the same kind of stuff they were dealing with during the regular season, and we have not seen one single bet,” said Jeff Sherman of Las Vegas SuperBook. “We have not had much action on them all season, but some of that is geographical because the sportsbooks in the East are drawing that action. We have almost no exposure on them, but we draw a lot more Lakers action than those books do.”
The geographic component to the odds is one of the twists of having a legalized US sports gambling market in which several states continue to make wagering illegal while others have embraced it. In the New York market, sports gambling commercials are omnipresent despite gambling not being allowed in the Empire State, which is because New Jersey is in the same market and has a wide-open legalized sports gambling industry along with casinos which can be visited in person or accessed online. And since South Jersey is part of the Philadelphia market, books such as DraftKings, FanDuel and PointsBet see a higher share of wagers on teams from the New York and Pennsylvania markets.
DraftKings moved the Sixers to 50-1 on Monday, and PointsBet also had them at +5000. FanDuel bumped them to +5500, and then to +8500 on Tuesday. By comparison, the Sixers had the same odds at PointsBet as the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks on Monday.
Simmons was injured last Wednesday, and Embiid bumped his ankle into the basket stanchion Sunday and left the game immediately, returning to the bench to watch the second half. Embiid will not play Tuesday against Phoenix.
The Sixers could also be without Harris and Horford on Tuesday in what to them is a meaningless game against the Suns. That game is anything but meaningless for Phoenix, though, as they have gone undefeated in the Orlando bubble and are trying to move into the No. 9 spot in the West to make the play-in round next weekend. The Suns opened as an -8.5 favorite at BetMGM.
Sixers a liability for books
Simmons needs surgery for his dislocated knee cap, and Embiid’s recovery time from an injury that seemed less severe will play a big part in where the wagering lines are set for the likely series against the Celtics.
“Any days lost for the Sixers are going to negatively impact their chances,” said Andrew Mannino, senior sports content analyst at PointsBet, explaining why an ankle injury to Embiid – something he could conceivably come back from in time for the postseason – would prompt the book to move the odds.
“The odds are certainly drifting away from them, and they are our biggest liability in the East,” Mannino said. “What we’ve seen today is bettors looking for other angles in the East and moving to the Celtics and Raptors.”
Johnny Avello of DraftKings Sportsbook said his book continued to see action on the 76ers in the immediate aftermath of Simmons’ injury, but those wagers have ceased over the past three days as that book has moved their odds.
“I just don’t see them getting it done without Simmons,” he said.
Not many people do.