Bet the Under for Bulls vs. 76ers for NBA Picks

Jason Lake

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 11:43 AM GMT

Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2014 11:43 AM GMT

The Chicago Bulls got slapped around by the Oklahoma City Thunder. They’ll have an easier time against the Philadelphia 76ers as 13-point road faves on Wednesday’s NBA odds board.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to March 17 inclusive:

83-68-2 ATS

22-20 Totals

Those accursed Chicago Bulls. They’re even less reliable than a politician’s promises – at least you can fade the politician. The Bulls, on the other hand, are almost dead-even against the NBA lines this year at 37-30 SU and 34-33 ATS. And they burned me again on Monday when they lost 97-85 to the Oklahoma City Thunder as 2.5-point home dogs. Bitter? Moi?

Fortunately, here to clear things up are the Philadelphia 76ers (15-52 SU, 25-42 ATS). But even these guys, the most eminently fadeable team in the league, have let us down. The NBA betting market has finally soured so much on the Sixers that they’ve been able to cover the spread in three of their last five games, even as they’ve run their franchise-worst losing streak to 21 games. We’re going to need a better plan for when the Bulls and Sixers meet Wednesday night (7:00 p.m. ET) at the WFC.

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The Philadelphia Enrons

Every bubble has to burst sometime. The logic behind fading the Sixers, as with all of this year’s tanking teams, was that the marketplace wasn’t prepared to dealing with such an intentionally awful commodity. But maybe we’ve finally reached the breaking point. Those three Philadelphia ATS wins all happened when the basketball spreads eclipsed 15 points. The Sixers are now 3-2 ATS this season when they get at least 15 points on the NBA betting lines, and 8-5 ATS when they get at least 11 points.

You’d expect those kind of results in general when the point spreads reach their extremes. But what we’re dealing with here is spread inflation – all five of those +15.5 spreads and above happened during this epic losing streak. And the longer the streak gets, the larger percentage of the NBA betting public is cottoning on to just how bad this team truly is. We’re talking Pets.com bad. We’re talking Enron, Nortel and WorldCom all rolled into one.

Change for a Dollar

Okay, so I said I was willing to fade the Sixers straight through until the end of the season. I changed my mind based on new information. Iterated elimination of dominated strategies and all that. Besides, we’ve got a new get-rich-quick scheme to chase down: The UNDER is 7-1 in Philadelphia’s last eight games. And praise Jeebus, the UNDER is also 7-4 in Chicago’s last 11 games.

There’s plenty to like about the UNDER when it comes to Philadelphia. Look at that post-apocalyptic roster: Thaddeus Young (17.0 PER) is the only guy left with a Player Efficiency Rating above the league indexed average of 15. The Sixers offense, which has gradually gotten worse all season, has plummeted to 90.9 points per 100 possessions in March. That’s significantly worse than their already horrible season average of 95.6 points/100.

The Sims Medieval

Meanwhile, the Philly defense has actually improved slightly in March, from 111.6 points allowed per 100 possessions to 108.6 points. New starting center Henry Sims (14.7 PER with Philly) isn’t very good at defense, but hey, he tries hard. Let’s also take a moment to recognize rookie PG Michael Carter-Williams (14.6 PER) for his perimeter defense, aided by his 6-foot-6 frame.

One other thing: Philadelphia’s NBA-leading pace has also slowed down this month, from 103.6 possessions per game in February to 101.4 in March. Combine that with Chicago’s glacial 92.9 pace (91.4 in March), and presto, you’ve got a logical UNDER pick for Wednesday. Oh, and James Anderson (11.0 PER) is iffy for Philadelphia with a bruised thigh. You hear that, Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability.

NBA Pick: Take UNDER 196 (–102) at Pinnacle

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