NBA Picks: Take Wizards -14 as Big Home Favorite Over 76ers

Doug Upstone

Monday, January 19, 2015 12:45 PM GMT

It takes a brave soul as a NBA basketball handicapper to back Philadelphia with one of your sports picks. However, there has been an uptick in the Sixers play which at least makes them more palatable. 

Philly is 4-6 and 5-5 ATS this month and is actually showing signs of being a real NBA team, instead of one compared to the Kentucky Wildcats.
This should not lead one to think the Philadelphia is suddenly – Play On – material versus the NBA odds, especially versus a quality squad like Washington.

Here are points to consider against the betting odds for this Martin Luther King Day matinee.

 

76ers Improving, But Let’s Not Go Overboard
This past Friday, Philadelphia played arguably their finest game of the season, in destroying New Orleans 96-81 as seven-point home underdogs. Sure the Pelicans did not have Anthony Davis or Jrue Holiday available, however, even the local Liberty Bell has a crack in it and nobody’s complaining. Still, anybody making NBA picks should temper their enthusiasm even if the 76ers are no longer the worst team in the Association (thanks Knicks and Timberwolves) with an 8-32 record.

Considering their record, Philly at 18-21-1 ATS is better than 10 other teams in the league. Yet certain facts cannot be ignored, like havin the worst scoring differential by 25 percent at -12.2 over the next worst team in Minnesota.

They followed up the New Orleans triumph with a clunker the next night at Detroit. The Sixers are the poorest three-point shooting team in the NBA at 29.7 percent yet hoisted up 28 attempts (seven makes). Philadelphia decided to let the Pistons fire at will behind the arc and they connected on 15 of 35 to win 107-89. Will Philly be more focused for Washington?

 

Will Washington Overlook Philadelphia?
The Wizards were brutal at home in their loss to Brooklyn on Friday night, losing by 22 points, but came back the next night on the road and won 99-90 as six-point away favorites.

Washington is 28-13 (20-20-1 ATS) at the mid-point of the season. The Wizards players understood they laid an egg and showed resiliency. To this juncture, coach Randy Wittman’s squad has played the third-easiest schedule in the league, but they are also just one of seven teams to have at least 10 wins versus teams over .500.

This is an important nine days for John Wall and company as I will explain below and it will be very easy to overlook a team like Philadelphia, figuring even a 70 percent effort will be good enough to knock them off. We will learn a lot about the Wizards maturity in this contest.

 

Betting Odds and Head to Head
This is the first meeting between these teams this season and sportsbooks have made Washington a 14-point home favorite with a total of 192.5. The Wizards took all three games a season ago, covering twice; however, the 76ers have covered their last four visits into D.C.

 

Scheduling
After this matchup, Philly will play three games in four days beginning Wednesday at home, with the first two versus New York and Toronto, before traveling to Memphis for a game and barbeque. They are 11-8-1 ATS with a day off this season.

Washington will have Kevin Durant and friends in town for Hump Day, hits the bricks on a four-game road trip starting in Portland and Denver on Saturday and Sunday. The Wizards are 16-6 and 13-9 ATS, with a single day between contests.

 

The Choice
Given the point spread, this is a very challenging selection and Washington is 19-32 ATS as a home favorite since last season. Yet the Sixers despite their general improvement are 1-8 ATS on the road after a road loss, losing by 24.2 points a game. This would not be my play of the day, but I’ll give my NBA pick to the Wizards to do enough in the second half to cover the number.

Free NBA Pick: Washington -14 at Bovada