76ers Start Season Wednesday Night As Big Favorite To Win Opener, Reach Postseason In May

Philadelphia is looking to a revamped lineup to help Embiid and Simmons and overcome the disappointment of a playoff sweep in August.
joel embiid, ben simmons
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Four months to the day after the 76ers’ unusual, disrupted 2019-20 season ended in painful disappointment with a first-round playoff sweep, they resume NBA action as a promising team with a revamped lineup.

Philadelphia is a 7-to-7.5-point favorite hosting the Washington Wizards in both teams’ opener Wednesday night after the NBA season begins Tuesday with marquee matchups between the Warriors-Nets and Clippers-Lakers.

In addition to the first game, the 11 online sportsbooks in Pennsylvania have a variety of ways to place futures bets on the Sixers. Bettors willing to set money aside for months — with the 72-game regular season to end May 22 and championship series scheduled in July — will get the benefit of being in action on every contest due to a one-time bet.

Most notable among those are the odds given Philadelphia to win its first NBA title since 1983, with the biggest available profit for that being the 22/1 offered by FanDuel and FOX Bet. Those and other sites make the Los Angeles Lakers the title favorite, at +270 from FanDuel and +275 from FOX Bet.

The aim is for quicker tempo, better shooting

Under new coach Doc Rivers and new President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey, the 76ers are looking to be a faster, better-shooting team that can take better advantage of the team’s star pair of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Any team with those two in the starting lineup has great potential, but the Sixers have been unable to get past the second round of the playoffs with them thus far. (It didn’t help that Simmons sat out from injury throughout the dismal August playoff series against the Boston Celtics.)

Seeking a better complement for them, Morey acquired veteran sharp-shooters Danny Green and Seth Curry while moving out Al Horford and Josh Richardson. Talented first-round pick guard Tyrese Maxey could also provide a big assist to Simmons in the backcourt if he adjusts well to the NBA.

Hanging over all such speculation at season’s start, however, is the possibility that Simmons won’t be a Sixer much longer, if the team completes a deal to acquire Houston Rockets star James Harden. Philadelphia is one of several teams reported to be negotiating with the Rockets, but Houston has a big asking price and it’s unknown if it will complete a trade and with whom.

Whether Simmons or Harden complements one of the league’s top centers in Embiid, it gives the Sixers an impressive lineup, and betting odds reflect it. The team is a heavy favorite to make the playoffs, at the very least.

Eight Eastern Conference teams will make the postseason (after four teams engage in play-ins for the seventh and eighth seeds), and FanDuel makes it -650 that Philadelphia will be one of them. That’s the best price available, as BetMGM — the newest site in Pennsylvania after launching last week — is offering -700. The six sites using Kambi odds (DraftKings, BetRivers, PlaySugarHouse, Unibet, Barstool, Parx) are still higher on the Sixers (but less profitable for bettors, in this case), making them -770.

Another common futures wager is the over/under on season-long wins, with FOX Bet, BetMGM, and Caesars posting a number of 43.5, while FanDuel is lower at 42.5 but with a heavy vig of -132 on the over.

Instead of posting a win total, DraftKings and other Kambi sites are taking the threat of COVID-19 disruptions into account by using an over/under on a season-long winning percentage of 58.5% (42.5 wins in a full 72-game season, with -130 on the over).

Individual bets offered on Embiid, Simmons

Other team futures bets include odds of between +600 (Caesars) and +900 (BetMGM) on the team to win the Eastern Conference. (The Milwaukee Bucks are favored, at +230 to +250.) To win the competitive Atlantic Division, the best payout is from the Kambi books at +400, with the Brooklyn Nets favored at +125.

Plenty of individual player performance futures bets exist as well, primarily involving Embiid and Simmons.

Embiid is 30/1 at FanDuel to be voted league MVP, with Luka Doncic the favorite at +410. Multiple sites have posted an over/under on Embiid’s scoring average at 24.5, and many also have him 11/1 to be named Defensive Player of the Year. He can be bet at a return as high as 22/1 from FOX Bet to lead the league in rebounding.

Simmons is also a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, with BetMGM offering the best payout if he achieves it, at 18/1. At FanDuel, he can be bet at 24/1 to lead the league in assists per game. BetMGM has him as the favorite, meanwhile, to lead the league in steals, at odds of +240.

Multiple promos are available to entice bets

The online sites are welcoming back the 76ers and rest of the NBA with a variety of enticements for bettors. Among them:

DraftKings: An even-money, almost-sure-thing wager (maximum bet $25) can be placed that Embiid will score at least 8 points Wednesday night.

FOX Bet: It has an “odds boost” to +200 (from +125) that Sixers newcomers Curry and Green will each make at least two 3-point field goals in the opener.

BetRivers/PlaySugarHouse: Focusing on the constant chatter involving Simmons’ reluctance to shoot from 3-point range, the twin PA sites make it +450 that he will even attempt one vs. the Wizards.

Parx: It has a boost to +1050 on the 76ers’ odds of winning the East.

Unibet: To recognize the official season start Tuesday night, it is boosting the Lakers’ moneyline against the Clippers to +200 from -162 ($25 maximum wager).

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