The bombshell arrived this week.
The Houston Rockets traded former MVP James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, creating perhaps the biggest super-team in basketball history.
The shockwaves could be felt all across the league and were even more noticeable in the Eastern Conference.
Does anyone else even have a chance? Can the Sixers still compete?
The questions still resonate all these hours later. And certainly, sports bettors are left to consider what this all means.
In this week’s installment of Penn Sportsbooks‘ Pick Play, we’ll analyze the NBA’s landscape after the Harden trade, how it looks for the Sixers now, and cover all the updated odds at Pennsylvania sportsbooks.
FOX Bet has boosted futures odds for Nets and 76ers
If offense can win a championship, the Brooklyn Nets should certainly have a chance to capture the NBA title this season. Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving should provide plenty of offense for the Nets. But the biggest concerns revolve around defense and team chemistry. How is that all going to work?
Oddsmakers are certainly skeptical as well. In NBA betting, LeBron James and the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers are still the favorite to win the championship this season. The Lakers are +240 (boosted to +280), followed by the Nets. Brooklyn’s price is +333, but the odds have been raised to +400 thanks to a FOX Bet boost.
The rest of the league’s top 10 (which also includes the 76ers) is as follows:
- LA Clippers: +600
- Milwaukee Bucks: +600
- Denver Nuggets: +1600
- Philadelphia 76ers: +1700
- Boston Celtics: +1800
- Miami Heat: +2000
- Dallas Mavericks: +2200
- Utah Jazz: +2500
Bettors have taken interest in the new-look Nets, as PlayPennsylvania writer Katie Kohler noted.
24 hours after the Harden trade, 70% of bets in the NBA Championship market at @FDSportsbook were on the Nets. The Nets odds have moved back from +270 immediately after the trade to +320.
— Katie Kohler (@kkohler1129) January 15, 2021
Top ten odds to win Eastern Conference
And in Eastern Conference futures, these are the top 10:
- Nets: +140
- Bucks: +300
- 76ers: +500 (FOX Bet has it boosted to +700)
- Celtics: +700
- Heat: +700
- Raptors: +1700
- Pacers: +1800
- Hawks: +4000
- Magic: +6000
- Wizards: +6600
Simmons drops triple double; Sixers move to 7-1 at home
Despite a COVID outbreak and the corresponding contact tracing that has forced the Sixers to play short-handed this week, Philadelphia has weathered the storm. Last night, Ben Simmons – who was often rumored to be a trade chip in Philadelphia’s pursuit of Harden – recorded a triple double as the 76ers dropped the Heat 125-108. Guard Shake Milton also had a big night, scoring 31 points in his return from a COVID-related absence.
The Sixers have their own superstars with Simmons and center Joel Embiid, but its’s the overall roster that might give Philadelphia its best chance for postseason success. While the Nets had to trade away valuable role players (Caris LeVert and Jarett Allen to name two) in order to get Harden, Philly has a well-rounded team of defenders, shooters, and bench players that would make any matchup with Brooklyn pretty interesting.
“I said it before, I like our team,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers told ESPN. “I like today after the trade that we are the same team.”
Sixers and first-place Celtics meet for two games next week
Philadelphia (9-4) is second in the Eastern Conference behind only Boston. They’re 7-6 ATS (against the spread). The Sixers play two road games this weekend, with a matchup at 8 p.m. Saturday in Memphis, followed by a game Sunday in Oklahoma City at 7 p.m. And the new-look Nets will get their first chance at taking the floor together on Saturday in Orlando at 6 p.m. Odds for all those games should be available soon at our region’s sportsbooks.
And next week, the showdown arrives, with Philadelphia hosting Boston for back-to-back home games Wednesday and Friday.
Eastern Conference just got more interesting
So the Eastern Conference suddenly got much more interesting this week with the long-awaited trade of Harden. Brooklyn is currently sixth in the conference and is hoping its newest addition can lead a surge toward the top.
Futures bettors can make their wagers now, taking advantage of odds that likely haven’t settled in yet.
Who’s it gonna be in the East?
Boston? Milwaukee? Philly? Or maybe the newest super-team in Brooklyn?
The bombshell arrived this week.
But will it really even matter in the end?
Time will tell.