The Brooklyn Nets (25-28; 26-27 ATS) head to Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Thursday night to close down their four-game regular-season series with the 76ers. The Nets beat the 76ers 109-89 as 4-point home dogs in the opener, but they lost the next two games 117-111 as 3-point home dogs and 117-106 as 6.5-point road dogs. The Sixers have dominated the Nets lately, winning six of their previous seven encounters. Also, they eliminated Brooklyn in the first round of this past playoffs, so Thursday’s clash between these two Atlantic Division foes has quite a background.
The Nets are without Kyrie Irving who’s aggravated his shoulder injury that forced him out of 26 games this season. On the other side, the 76ers are coming in full strength.
Philadelphia opened as an 8-point fave at Betonline and 5Dimes, while the total has been set at 217.0 points on both platforms. The Sixers have been terrific at home this season, winning 25 of their 27 games at Wells Fargo Center and covering 15 times in the process.
What’s at Stake?
The Nets are No. 7 seed in the East, six games behind the sixth-seeded Indiana Pacers and two games ahead of the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic. The 76ers hold the No. 5 seed and are 1.5 games behind the fourth-seeded Miami. The postseason is nearing, so the stake is huge for both Brooklyn and Philadelphia.
Brooklyn has won four of its last five games before the All-Star Weekend including a 101-91 home victory over Toronto that put an end to the Raptors’ 15-game win streak. The Nets will play six of their next seven tilts away from home. On the other side, the 76ers entered the All-Star break on a three-game winning streak. They will visit Milwaukee on Saturday to meet the best team in the league.
After a tough 20-point defeat in December, the Sixers beat the Nets twice in January in just six days. Interestingly, the Sixers missed Joel Embiid (22.9 PPG, 11.9 RPG) on both occasions in January, while Kyrie Irving (27.4 PPG, 6.4 APG) played in a 117-106 defeat in Philadelphia. Now, the Nets are without Uncle Drew, while Embiid takes the floor for the 76ers.
Joel will have a tough matchup offensively, as both Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan are great defenders. Still, his presence is a huge boost for the Sixers’ defense. Philadelphia surrenders only 106.7 points per 100 possessions (5th in the league), while the 76ers are second in the league in total rebounds allowed per game (41.8).
On the other side, Brooklyn is second in the NBA in total rebounds posted per contest (48.3), so the battle on the glass will be a key factor in Thursday’s clash. Another important thing is Brooklyn’s defense. The Nets surrender 108.1 points per 100 possessions (8th in the league), and they have to be at the highest level defensively to stand a chance against the Sixers.
On the other side of the ball, the Nets are scoring only 107.6 points per 100 possessions (23rd) on 44.5% shooting from the field (24th). They could easily struggle against the Sixers who also have some serious offensive issues. Phila is tallying just 109.1 points per 100 possessions (20th) on 46.5% shooting from the field (10th).
The Nets have had some very good games just before the All-Star break, but that’s not enough to convince me they can upset the odds at Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers have been ruthless on the home court, so I expect them to win this game. Still, an 8-point spread could be too much. The Sixers are only 3-9 ATS in their last 12 showings as favorites of eight or more points. Hereof, I suggest you take the hosts as 6-point favorites at slightly lower wages. The Nets are 5-0 ATS over their last five outings, but they are only 1-6 ATS in the last seven encounters with the Sixers.
The previous two encounters between the Nets and 76ers went in the over, but I don’t expect to see a bunch of points in their ultimate clash of the regular season. The Nets love to play at a fast pace, averaging 101.5 possessions per 48 minutes. However, their offensive execution is poor, and the Nets will have a tall task to speed up the tempo against the Sixers. I will go with the under, looking for a tough defensive battle.