One thing you have to give the Sixers credit for is that they’re always interesting. Always. Just a ho-hum day or two of before the team gears up for Game 3, right? Not exactly:
— Chris Sheridan (@sheridanhoops) April 17, 2019
Is any this true? Who knows. Probably not. Or it’s at least heavily embellished, but intriguing stuff either way. If Brett Brown hasn’t lost the locker room, the Sixers can probably use Sheridan’s report as a rallying point, and teams will look for any extra edge they can find this time of year.
So, are the Sixers headed for chaos, ignited by a pivotal Game 3 loss, or are they about to take control of this series?
Let’s get into it.
Here are the LIVE Sixers-Nets odds for Game 3 courtesy of our news odds tool:
[sportsbook filters=”teams:Philadelphia 76ers”]
The Sixers were as much as a -835 moneyline favorite to win the series before Game 1, but the odds crashed to as low as -180 before Game 2 before rebounding as you can see above. Still, these current series prices represent some value, and if you believe in the Sixers winning this series, this may be the best price you’re going to get for the remainder of the series.
As for the Game 3 spread, the Sixers dropped to a 2.5-point favorite late Wednesday night, but are back up to -3.5 at some of the best NJ online sportsbooks.
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Let’s first start with each team’s overall performance against the spread. The Sixers haven’t been a good ATS bet this season, going only 39-45. The Nets, on the other hand, are a solid spread performer, compiling a 46-38 ATS record.
The Sixers have also underperformed as a favorite, going 28-32 ATS, whereas the Nets are a respectable 17-13 ATS in the same role.
This will be the first game of the series played at Barclays Center. The Nets are 9-10 ATS as a home dog this season, while the Sixers are only 7-12 as a road underdog. Perhaps even more concerning for Sixers backers is the team’s brutal performance as a short favorite this season. They are only 3-7 ATS when favored by four or less on the road. That record drops to 1-3 ATS when favored by three or less. Their troubles as a short favorite aren’t just limited to road games, too. They are 5-16 ATS in all games when favored by four less and 2-8 ATS when it’s three or less. It’s almost like oddsmakers have set traps with the Sixers this season by creating short lines, and, if we’re being honest, that feels like the case here. To me, this feels like a Nets line.
A deeper look reveals the Nets’ impressive underdog performance, but shows they, too, have also struggled in this spread range. Brooklyn is only a mediocre 15-16 ATS when a dog of four points or less and an uninspiring 5-9 ATS when a dog of four points or less at home. League-wide, road favorites of four points or less points in first round games are 13-20 ATS since ’05.
What do we make of the Sixers’ Game 2 demolition of the Nets? The results are mixed. Since the 2005 NBA Playoffs, road favorites that won their previous game by more than 20 points are 20-14-1 ATS, which would suggest teams coming off big wins have avoided a letdown more often than not. BUT. When road teams are favored by four points or less in a Game 3 when coming off a win of at least 10 points, those teams are 4-11 ATS. When they win those games by 20+ points, they are 1-3 ATS. On the other hand, Game 3 road favorites of three points or less are 23-15 ATS since the 2005 NBA Playoffs.
Of course, these overall team performance trends don’t tell the entire story, so let’s go a little bit deeper. As for how the two teams have performed head-to-head this season, the Nets hold a 4-2 edge in covers, going 2-2 ATS on the road but 2-0 ATS at home.
Since this is the postseason, the level of competition is an important contextual factor to consider, so it’s probably worth noting Brooklyn is 25-18 ATS against teams .500 or better, 20-15 ATS against such teams as an underdog, and 8-6 ATS as a home dog. And the Sixers are 14-14 ATS when playing teams that are .500 or better as a favorite, but are 2-1 ATS in a small sample of such games as a road favorite .
Assuming the Sixers keep the same starting lineup in Game 3, it will mark only the 13th time this season that they will play with Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, and Embiid each in the starting lineup. The Sixers are 9-3 SU and 7-5 ATS this season when those five start together.
This is obviously a ton of information to digest and many of these trends present us with conflicting information. This feels like a game the Sixers should win, but I have concerns about their performance with short lines this season and I’m aware that once again the short line here feels like a little bit of a trap. That being said, I’m going to use the “rally around the Chris Sheridan article adversity” angle and take what is clearly the more talented team to win and cover in Game 3, and, in turn, take control of the series.