Jordan’s 2018-19 NBA picks record: 33-16
Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Free NBA Pick: 76ers ATS
Best Line Offered: BetOnline
Believe it or not, the 76ers may have found their stride. They played their best basketball of the season over the first three weeks of January and they have another opportunity to get a quality win with the Spurs coming to town.
76ers’ Corner-Turning January
The Sixers have played 11 games in January and they are 8-3 SU and 6-5 ATS during that stretch. After opening the season as one of the worst betting values based on expectations prior to their first game, the Sixers may be turning that corner.
It could all be a mirage and the in-fighting and drama could just as easily return. However, if this is truly the 76ers managing to put aside their difference and work together, they may be a dark horse in the Eastern Conference right now.
Philly does have a way to go, and they are not without uncertainty (more on that in a minute), but their numbers bear a tale that should be inviting to bettors and fans alike.
The Sixers are averaging nearly 116 points per 100 possessions this month. That ranks them seventh-best in the league during that stretch and second to the Bucks among Eastern Conference teams. The dynamic is working right now, but there is a chance that the Sixers may be without one of their main cogs on Wednesday.
The Sharp Pick
Jimmy Butler missed the Sixers’ game on MLK Day due to a wrist sprain. The team is calling the injury mild, but that makes Butler’s status heading into Wednesday’s national TV showdown a bit foggy.
On one hand, if Butler is able to return, the Sixers should make for a strong play ATS. They are at home against a team that has really struggled to stop opposing teams when they are on the road. On top of that, Butler could harass and limit DeMar DeRozan all night.
This could lead to Joel Embiid also limiting LaMarcus Aldridge, making the Spurs’ offensive upside vanish quickly. Embiid has been banged up but he also dropped 32 points on Monday, so I think he is healthy enough.
However, if Butler does not play, the Spurs have a much better chance of hanging around in this one and covering the spread. San Antonio has generally been pretty good on the road against Eastern Conference teams, but other than a win in Indiana and a loss at Milwaukee, the Spurs have played mostly bottom-feeders in their interconference matchups.
Not only that, but it looks like Ben Simmons is dealing with an illness and he is also looking questionable for Wednesday.
If neither Butler nor Simmons can play, this could be an instance where the Sixers are rare home dogs. If both play, I will side with the Sixers ATS, but if both are out, the “under” might be a great value. The Sixers would almost certainly have to slow their offense if Simmons is out.
Final score prediction: 76ers 117, Spurs 110