#1 Philadelphia 76ers vs #8 Washington Wizards Series Betting Preview: Embiid, Sixers Should Make Light Work of Westbrook, Wizards

Matt Wiesenfeld

Can one of the top duos in the NBA make the Philadelphia 76ers vs Washington Wizards series interesting, or will the Eastern Conference’s top seed sail smoothly through to the second round?

The 76ers took the top spot in the Eastern Conference this season, edging out the Brooklyn Nets. This team has been good for a few years now, and they are hoping that new coach Doc Rivers and some new complimentary players for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons can get them to at least the Eastern Conference finals. Embiid is a superlative talent, but I always think the key will be Simmons. He is one of the best defensive players in the league, but on offense, he has his limitations and that has held back the team.

I think the 76ers are safe for this first round, but it might just be more of the same afterward as they take on the better teams in the conference.

Washington was one of the best teams in the second half of the season. Russell Westbrook completed another season averaging a triple-double and after a rough start, the team figured out how to translate those numbers into winning. Bradley Beal nearly won the scoring title as well, which gives the Wizards one of the best backcourt duos in the NBA.

Against some teams, the duo of Beal and Westbrook would be enough, but the Sixers are a tough matchup for the Wizards. They don’t really have a counter for Embiid, and Washington only has one way to play really because they are a terrible defensive team. They are going to push, feature their stars, and hope for the best. They are in this spot after losing to Boston then beating Indiana in the play-in tournament. Maybe those games give them some continuity that helps them in game one.

Eastern Conference First Round Series: #1 Philadelphia 76ers vs #8 Washington Wizards

Series Schedule

Game 1: Sunday, May 23 | Washington at Philadelphia, 1 ET, TNT
Game 2: Wednesday, May 26 | Washington at Philadelphia, 7 ET, NBA TV
Game 3: Saturday, May 29 | Philadelphia at Washington, TBD, ESPN
Game 4: Monday, May 31 | Philadelphia at Washington, TBD, TNT
Game 5: Wednesday, June 2 | Washington at Philadelphia, TBD, TBD (if necessary)
Game 6: Friday, June 4 | Philadelphia at Washington, TBD, TBD (if necessary)
Game 7: Sunday, June 6 | Washington at Philadelphia, TBD, TBD (if necessary)

Series Odds

76ers vs Wizards odds are via FanDuel Sportsbook as of Sunday, May 23 at 5:30 am ET.

Odds to Win the Series

  • Washington +570
  • Philadelphia -950

Series Spread

  • Washington +2.5 games -105
  • Philadelphia -2.5 games -115

Series Correct Score Odds

  • Washington 4-0 +6000
  • Washington 4-1 +400
  • Washington 4-2 +1300
  • Washington 4-3 +1500
  • Philadelphia 4-0 +320
  • Philadelphia 4-1 +180
  • Philadelphia 4-2 +380
  • Philadelphia 4-3 +460

Philly is not my pick to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals; I think it will be Brooklyn or Milwaukee. I do think they should have a pretty easy time in this series though, provided Embiid is healthy. I know that is a caveat for the star players on any team, but his injury history is long.

My best bet from the above would be the series spread. It is not a huge payoff, so there could be some value to stacking the 4-0 and 4-1 series bets too. But there are not a lot of exciting options here. The hard part about potentially backing the Wizards to actually win is that Westbrook, for all of his big regular-season numbers, has never been a great playoff performer. As a result, it is hard to see him taking down a top seed, even with some help. I can make more of a case for Memphis bringing down Utah in the West than Washington to beat Philly.

Philadelphia 76ers vs Washington Wizards Series Statistical Summary

76ers vs Wizards Betting Statistics

  • Philadelphia 76ers: 49-23 SU, 38-33-1 ATS, 34-38 O/U
  • Washington Wizards: 35-39 SU, 41-30-1 ATS, 36-36 O/U

Philadelphia 76ers Season Statistics

113 ppg – 14th
47% FG% – 8th
37% 3PT FG% – 11th
108 ppg allowed – 6th

Washington Wizards Season Statistics

116 ppg -3rd
47% FG% – 10th
35% 3PT FG% – 23rd
118 ppg allowed – 30th

Head-to-Head Results

March 12: Philadelphia 127 – Washington 101
January 6: Philadelphia 141 – Washington 136
December 23: Philadelphia 113 – Washinton 107

Philadelphia 76ers vs Washington Wizards Betting Breakdown

Backing the 76ers: Three Key Factors

Keep Embiid Healthy – Joel Embiid is one of the best players in the league, but have you ever noticed how much he winds up on the ground for such a big strong guy? Every time he falls, I wonder if he is going to get up, and this team without him has a much lower ceiling. That team should still be able to win a first-round series, but so much of what they do is predicated on the big man and Dwight Howard does not have the skill set to sub in. Embiid has so much gravity on offense and is key to their defense too.

Shooters Shoot – The goal of the offseason was to bring in shooters that could feed off Embiid. Seth Curry and Danny Green are two veterans who made 40% of their threes during the regular season. There is no reason to think they can’t keep that up in the playoffs, especially Green, who has made clutch shots on multiple championship teams. Winning in the playoffs is all about the right guys taking the right shots. Tobias Harris may have to be more patient and let those guys do what they do best.

Early Knockout Punch – When you are the top seed, it is always best to bring the hammer down early on. Philly won all three regular-season games, so this series should just be business as usual for the 76ers. The last thing they want to do is give the Wizards some life because they do have a couple of pretty good closers. The 76ers have not played in a week, so they could be a little rusty. The best thing they can do is dominate early so the Wizards are quickly reminded of the gap between the two teams.

Backing the Wizards: Three Key Factors

Stepping Up? – The production of stars Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook is well documented. Efficiency always drops in the playoffs, so the question is who on the Wizards can step up and support them. Rui Hachimura, David Bertans, Raul Neto? The cast of players is not very promising. There is not much in the way of track records nor in the way of expectations that players are ready for expanded roles.

Some Defense – Defense and winning generally correlates in the NBA, especially in the playoffs, so the Wizards are somewhat of an outlier for even making the playoffs as the team that allowed the most points in the league. To even make this series competitive they are going to have to find ways to stop an efficient Philadelphia offense. You have to think that the Wizards noticed some of their second half success was due to paying a little more attention at the defensive end. Even just to get some covers and help out bettors we need them to try on that end.

Efficiency Matters – There have been lots of fast paced high scoring teams that have fared pretty well. The key to those teams was efficiency. The recent Golden State Warriors, or the Steve Nash-led Phoenix Suns, knew what good shots were. Washington puts up a lot of points by taking a lot of shots, and most of them are not very good ones. Russell Westbrook, for all of his production, is one of the least efficient offensive players in the league. He is lethal going downhill, but asking him to direct the attack, or not shoot from the outside, is a challenge. He has never developed those skills. They often sink his team even though they are hidden by his overall staggering numbers.

Series Prediction: Philadelphia in five games

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