The Philadelphia 76ers have remained relatively healthy since their big COVID issue in January and they are looking better than ever. They lead the Eastern Conference with an 18-7 record and have won six of their last seven games. That one loss came against the 13-10 Portland Trail Blazers last week in Philly though, and on Thursday night the two squads will run it back, this time in Portland.
Free Picks: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid To Lead 76ers Over Dame, Blazers (Season Betting Record: 29-31)
While the Blazers did win the last time these teams tangled, it should be noted that Ben Simmons was not available for the Sixers, which is always a big deal to this team. Joel Embiid is definitely the best player and leader for these Sixers and is an MVP contender, but Simmons remains essential to the team’s success.
This year Simmons has missed three games and the Sixers have lost them all, which means they’re 18-4 with the Australian in the lineup. There have been a few changes to the team since last season, but even then they went just 8-8 without him before suffering a four-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics in the playoffs. Doc Rivers’ Sixers are looking like a very serious contender when they have all of their key cogs in the lineup.
The Trail Blazers, winners of three of their last four, including that butt-kicking they gave the Sixers, will surely be coming into this matchup brimming with confidence. Damian Lillard has been on fire of late, putting in 32.3 points per game on 43/42/93 shooting from the field over his past three games—and he didn’t play in that victory over Philadelphia. Without Simmons for the Sixers and Dame for the Blazers, it’s hard to take too much from that game when considering Thursday night’s matchup.
This time around the Sixers will be whole with Simmons in there, but while the Blazers will get Lillard back, they’ll still be without CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, and Zach Collins. The last two absences, both bigs, are the most important considering the kind of season Embiid is having down-low.
Being at home this time around doesn’t actually work in Portland’s favor either: The Blazers have gone just 3-8 against the spread this season at Moda Center and they’ve gone 0-4 ATS in their last four games as a home underdog. They’ve also greatly struggled to cover the spread following a win, going just 4-8 ATS in that scenario this year. Not to mention that the Sixers have had no trouble finding success out West this year, going 4-2 ATS against non-conference teams.
An NBA point spread play for the 76ers seems like a safe pick for this matchup, especially with how these teams have performed on equal rest this season: Philly is 10-5 ATS while Portland has gone just 3-8. We like Philadelphia’s -4.5 point spread at -111 odds as one of our top picks of the day.
Another market we like is a player prop for Embiid. Like Lillard, Embiid has been averaging 32.3 over the past ten days and the big man’s doing it on 55 percent shooting from the field. The Cameroonian native is considered by many to be the MVP front-runner, and even though they lost last time out against Portland, without Nurkic or Collins there to slow him down, Embiid went for 37 points and five rebounds on 67 percent shooting from the field.
With Simmon there to help keep the game from getting away from Philly while also distracting defensive attention from the big man, Embiid should be in line for a similarly productive game. The 26-year-old has topped 30 points in eight of his last 10 contests, and he’s only nabbed less than nine rebounds in four appearances this season. We’re going with the over on Embiid’s 41.5 Points + Rebounds prop at -120 as another of our best bets for today.
- Philadelphia has gone 11-4 ATS on one days’ rest this season
- Philadelphia has gone 10-5 ATS with equal rest this season
- Portland is 0-2 ATS as a home underdog this season
- Portland is 4-8 ATS following a win this season
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The Los Angeles Clippers will renew hostilities with the Dallas Mavericks, who they dispatched in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
The Denver Nuggets and the league’s presumptive NBA MVP will look to get off to a strong start against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1.
The Golden State Warriors will host the Memphis Grizzlies in the final play-in game, which will determine the Western Conference’s eighth seed.
The Washington Wizards will host the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night with the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference on the line.
Alex is an alumnus of Ryerson University's RTA Sport Media program, a contributing NHL, NBA, and MLB writer in the BetPicks.ca team. He has been writing on sports, betting, and fantasy contests for several years, including pitstops as an NFL Editor for theScore and as one of the lead NBA news writers for fantasy sports site FantasyPros. As a lifelong athlete, bettor, and sports fan, Alex is uniquely qualified to help you reach the sports betting success that you've always dreamed of and your wife never believed you could achieve.