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June 05, 2020

Sixers NBA Finals chances get worse after long layoff

Sixers NBA
Joel-Embiid-Ear_041420_usat Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid.

It seems like ages since we watched the Sixers play a basketball game. But as you've probably heard, the NBA is planning to come back.

When things "resume" on July 31, Philly will have eight regular season games ahead before they begin their attempt to make it past the second round, where their season faltered in each of the last two seasons.

If the playoffs started right away, the Sixers would be the No. 6 seed and face the No. 3-seeded Celtics. Theoretically, with eight games to improve their seeding, the Sixers have a pretty realistic chance of jumping into a home court advantage spot (though, in Orlando, there really won't be much of an advantage). Here's how things stood in the east when play was halted back in March:

TeamRecordGB
Bucks53-12
Raptors46-186.5
Celtics43-219.5
Heat41-2412
Pacers39-26
14
Sixers39-2614

The Sixers are two games behind the Heat for fourth and 4.5 games behind the Celtics for third. Both are realistic goals for Philly — which is slated to face (according to reports) the Pacers, Wizards, Raptors, Suns, Blazers, Rockets, Wizards and Magic. It's not the easiest schedule but it is relatively easy, considering the eight teams with the worst records are staying home.

If Philly can, say, go 6-2, they have a good chance of improving their seed and perhaps drawing a more desirable opponent like the Heat. 

It's because of this that the Sixers' NBA championship (and eastern conference) chances have shifted over the last few months. Here's a look at the latest changes, according to betonline.ag:

Sixers oddsOdds on Feb 2March 2Latest
NBA title14-1 (4th)25-1 (8th)30-1 (8th)
Eastern conf. title9-2 (2nd)10-1 (4th)14-1 (4th)


It's worth mentioning that other sites, like Oddshark, have the Sixers at the 7th best NBA title chance — 24-1, as they and others are not as high (apparently) on the Heat as betonline is.

Let's just break down the information gleamed from this. Despite the fact that the previously injured Ben Simmons could be at 100%, and that the team, which was mired in a mediocre 4-5 stretch before play was suspended could benefit from the layoff, the Sixers are less favored by oddsmakers than one might expect. 

Maybe this a good time to get in on these odds? In the weeks leading up to players reporting, practicing together and finally heading south to Florida, fans will get information on the health of Simmons, on the fitness of Joel Embiid and on the team's potentially fresh look heading into the playoffs.

For a team that was playing below its potential, the break came at a pretty good time. Those 14-1 odds to make the finals may not be the worst bet someone can make.


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