There’s been some really strange odds action on the Sixers-Nets series. Let’s talk about what it does and doesn’t mean.
On the surface, that moves seems concerning, as a move in this direction feeds into the pause local fans have regarding the cohesiveness of the unit, Brett Brown’s coaching ability, and of course Joel Embiid, who as of Friday is uncertain to play in Game 1.
UPDATE: Sixers Game 1 line has now moved down to as low as -5.5 on news that Joel Embiid is doubtful.
In an interview with The Wizard over at PointsBet earlier on Friday, the Montauk-loving market maker for one of NJ’s newest sportsbooks says there is indeed quite a bit of concern over Embiid… and this was before the Sixers fanned those flames at practice on Friday. Game 1 was even briefly off the board at PointsBet… before the Sixers mentioned Embiid might be out.
DraftKings has been much more bullish on the Sixers, currently listing them at -835 to win the series. FanDuel has them at -650.
It’s worth considering that NJ sportsbooks take huge action on Philly teams, so DraftKings specifically maybe be keeping the odds longer (for the Nets) to balance out what will likely be heavy Sixers action. They also tell us they’re operating as if Embiid is playing until they hear for sure otherwise.
More specifically, this data from (@joek62635) is worth mentioning:
Line movement might look huge but implied winning percentage change isn’t all that much. Difference from -2500 to -800 is a change from a 92% favorite to an 84% favorite. Reasonable change given Embiid uncertainty
— Joe K (@joek62635) April 12, 2019
While not as drastic as the 3x shift would lead you to believe, 8 points of probability is still quite the deviation, and most importantly it opens up some value. Here’s what he sent over:
The Sixers will probably win this series– they’ll have issues with D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie, particularly on the pick-and-roll, but as we pointed out earlier, the Sixers have been literally money with their starting unit intact (8-2) and as a 7+ point favorite, going 15-9 ATS and an even better 10-4 when favored by 7-10 points, including 6-2 at The Center in that scenario.
So how does that open up value? I’d hop all over the Sixers at -501 if you want some low-stakes outright action, as that number should come up once more certainty enters the market.
But there’s still some reason for concern here.
The Sixers will have to operate effectively in the half-court offense with a unit that hasn’t played much together against a team they struggle with. Add in the uncertainty surrounding Joel Embiid, increasing lack of confidence in Brett Brown, and curious market action, and it all adds up to an actual probability the Sixers lose the series. More prescient, the Sixers were widely considered to be a heavy favorite in the East when they traded for Tobias Harris. But that hasn’t materialized. Injuries have kept them from playing together, and they limp into the playoffs as a big question market. The movement and wide range of odds just adds to the uncertainty.