It’s been a rough week for Philly sports fans. There’s the minor misery of watching the Phillies’ division rivals in Washington jump out to a 1-0 lead in the World Series and having to deal with a deluge of smarmy “how do you like Bryce Harper now?” taunts from all corners. And there’s the major misery of that disastrous impression of an NFL team the Eagles did in Dallas on Sunday night.
All of which makes this the perfect moment for the 76ers to tip off their NBA season and give Philadelphia something to feel good about.
Anticipation for this Sixers season was going to be off the charts no matter what. They’re universally expected to be one of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference and are as close to the top of the list of title contenders as they’ve been at any point since Allen Iverson’s prime in 2000-’01.
After a heartbreaking quadruple-doink loss in the second round of the playoffs to the eventual champion Raptors, the Sixers made significant moves in the offseason, letting Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick go while adding Al Horford and Josh Richardson. The Horford piece could be huge, as it gives coach Brett Brown an opportunity to limit Joel Embiid’s minutes and sit him out about a dozen times this year without fear that the Sixers will get manhandled at the center position. Philly also re-signed Tobias Harris, drafted defensive freak Matisse Thybulle, and “added” last year’s top draft pick, Zhaire Smith, who, following in the modern Sixers rookie tradition, was physically unable to play most of last season.
If Embiid stays healthy and Ben Simmons flashes just a hint of willingness to shoot from the outside, these Sixers are a serious title contender. But they open their season with a legit challenge tonight at home against the rival Boston Celtics.
And in this new era of legal, regulated sports betting in Pennsylvania, the five online sportsbooks in the state are pouncing on the opportunity to attract bets — even putting themselves in some minus-EV situations to do so.
Philly is favored by 5 points over the Celtics at the three Kambi sites (Play SugarHouse, BetRivers, and Parx Casino) and at FanDuel Sportsbook, and by 5.5 at FOX Bet.
It follows that the Sixers are solid favorites on the moneyline: -225 at the Kambi sites, -220 at FanDuel, and -212 at FOX Bet. (The Celtics are +185, +184, and +175, respectively.)
But if you have a FOX Bet account, you can throw those numbers out. FOX Bet is offering a “super boost” that makes the Sixers moneyline even money, or +100. Granted, there’s a $25 maximum, but it’s still a tremendous price on the home team. And FanDuel ran the exact same promotion for a brief spell several days ago.
Locals are likely to bet on the Sixers rather than the Celtics anyway. But particularly with those odds boosts in effect, the books are sure to be far from balanced and silently rooting for Boston.
FanDuel is also trying to lure moneyline bets on the game with a pair of special promos that, again, figure to attract more wagers on the home team than on the enemy in green.
On moneyline bets of $25 or more, if you opt in, you’ll receive $3 of bonus in site credit for each point your team wins by. So a blowout win by the Sixers could strike a blow to FD’s coffers.
Also with opt in, FanDuel Sportsbook is offering “3rd Quarter Insurance”: If you bet either team on the moneyline and they’re leading after 36 minutes but lose the game, you get a refund in site credit (up to $50).
Prop, shop, and roll
The points total on Sixers-Celtics is fairly consistent across the sites: 211.5 at FOX Bet and the Kambi sites, 211 at FanDuel. The Sixers’ team total is 108.5, and bettors can manipulate all the spread and total bets to get different numbers at different prices and either increase or decrease the risk.
FanDuel also has a market on win margin, where the Sixers by 1-10 pays +170 and the Sixers by 11 or more pays +200.
Then there are the player props. Shop around and you’ll find lines on points, rebounds, assists, and certain combinations thereof for all of the noteworthy players on either team.
The Kambi sites offer double-double props on five players, most notably Embiid (yes -590, no +420) and Simmons (yes +162, no -200). They also have a triple-double prop on Simmons only, where the “yes” is +600 and the “no” is -1000. But if you’re thinking of betting that “yes,” you’re better off doing it at FanDuel, where the towering Aussie is +700 to open the season with a triple-double. FD also has triple-double props on Embiid (+7000), Horford (+8000), and several others at +10000.
Who will be the top scorer in the game? FanDuel has Embiid as the -115 favorite, with Boston’s Kemba Walker at +210, Harris at +1000, Jayson Tatum at +1700, and Simmons at +1900.
And speaking of Simmons, FOX Bet is offering big boosts on his three-point shooting. The notoriously reluctant outside shooter drained a trey during the preseason, and FOX is boosting from +450 to +600 that he’ll do it again against Boston. And if you think he’ll at least attempt one three-pointer (yes, a long-range buzzer-beater to end any quarter counts), they’ve boosted that from +100 to +200.
Two additional FOX Bet odds boosts: Embiid and Walker to both score 30 or more has been jacked up from +500 to +650, and the Sixers to win both the first and second quarters has been bumped from +185 to +225.
76/1 on a championship!
We won’t get into all the futures options on the Sixers, but in terms of winning it all, they were +1200 early in the offseason and have come all the way down to +750 at FanDuel and FOX Bet and +700 at the Kambi sites.
There was a brief moment a couple of months ago when FanDuel offered an odds boost to +1800. But that’s nothing compared to the leading PA and NJ sportsbook’s latest welcome offer. For new customers, if it’s your first bet, you can get the 76ers to win the title at a whopping 76/1. There’s a $10 max bet, but still, come May 2020, FD suits might find themselves rooting hard against Philly.