More Sports:

May 21, 2021

Betting preview: 76ers vs. Wizards

NBA Sixers

Content sponsored by Limited - PICKSWISE Sponsorship Badge

Basketball through hoop at stadium Markus Spiske/

The Philadelphia 76ers finally know their first-round opponent for the NBA playoffs. After the Wizards secured a play-in tournament win over the Pacers, Philly will host Washington on Sunday for the beginning of their series.

As far as #1/#8 matchups go, it’s a tough draw for the 76ers. Philadelphia finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference, and their reward is a date with a team that finished the season red-hot, with two All-Stars at their disposal.

Let’s break it all down, starting with the betting odds:

The odds

While it might not be the matchup the 76ers were hoping for, they’re still going to be a big favorite here. Their current NBA odds have them as a seven-point favorite for Game 1 on Sunday (+240 on the money line).

The Wizards are peaking

To say the Wizards finished the season on fire would be a pretty big understatement. Washington was lights out to end the year, and they have as much momentum as any team in the league.

After starting just 17-32, the Wizards went 17-6 in their final 23 games. It was an incredible run, and in hindsight it’s not surprising that Beal and Westbrook took a little while to develop chemistry. This series is going to be interesting, since the Wizards have a unique, fast style of play.

Washington scored the third-most points per game in the entire NBA this season. How did they finish below .500 then? Because they gave up more points per game than any other team. The Wizards played at the single fastest pace in the league, while the 76ers are middle of the pack in terms of pace and have a strong defense.

How the matchup will play out

The 76ers are going to be able to get their buckets against this porous defense. If they can play like they did defensively during the regular season, they should be alright. Philadelphia won all three meetings between these teams this year, although two of them were close and decided by six points or fewer.

The most recent meeting saw the 76ers win in a 127-101 blowout, and that was without Ben Simmons in the lineup. Joel Embiid only played 20 minutes in that game (before getting hurt), and he still put up 23 points.

Embiid is going to be the X-factor in this series. The Wizards get dynamic guard play from Beal and Westbrook, but their front-court is pitiful. Alex Len started at center in their play-in win over Indiana, which tells you all you need to know about the state of Washington’s big men.

Embiid will likely see some combination of Len, Robin Lopez, and youngster Daniel Gafford at center. He can eat all three of those guys alive. Gafford has been taking on a slightly bigger role recently, and he played 22 minutes in the win over the Pacers. He’s a 22-year-old former second-round pick who was getting 12 minutes a night with the Bulls before a midseason trade sent him to the nation’s capital.

The bottom line

It’s not an ideal draw for Philly, but Doc Rivers’ squad should be just fine. The Wizards still can’t defend, and Beal and Westbrook can’t do it all by themselves against elite teams. If Embiid is aggressive on both ends, the 76ers are going to absolutely dominate the interior, a primary reason in making them an NBA best bet for this week.

It’s going to take a herculean outside shooting effort from Beal to make this series close. The 76ers also have a big rest advantage after Washington just played two high-intensity games. The Wizards have been a cool story the past couple of months, but the NBA prediction for this series is that Washington’s story comes to an end in the first round and the Sixers advance.

Pickswise is the #1 home of free sports betting picks, predictions and odds. Find trusted opinion on every sport, every day. 21+ Please gamble responsibly.