The shorthanded Brooklyn Nets will host their division rivals the Philadelphia 76ers tonight. The fact that Brooklyn still came into this one as favorites despite missing key players is an indication of how inconsistent the Sixers are at the moment.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Brooklyn Nets
Thursday, December 16, 2021 – 07:30 PM EST at Barclays Center
Nets Dealing With Health Issues
Brooklyn comes into this game as -1 favorites with the line down to a pick'em at some of the top online sportsbooks. That opening line is a clear indictment of the current situation surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers who we will get to in a moment. Brooklyn is 5-2 to start December despite missing key players due to health and safety protocols. Joe Harris is also out for an extended period after having surgery on his injured ankle.
Despite that, the Nets continue to find ways to win games and have won their last three in a row. The overtime win over Toronto was the first of a five-game homestand before they head out west for a three-game road trip. Even though this line is short, it has to be noted that Brooklyn is not a good team against the spread (ATS) this season.
They are only covering 41% of spreads on the season but if you like them here, you should be able to get them at a Pick'em which is a great value. I will not be taking them here because it's a tough spot against a Philly team that desperately needs a win here.
The Sixers are 7th in the Eastern Conference and 5.5 games behind the nets in the Atlantic division. We clearly know that's not where they want to be and at some point, they'll need to start making up ground before things start slipping too far out of their reach.
If you want to start talking about worst-case scenarios, the Sixers are tied with the Wizards for 8th and are only 1.5 games above 11th place Toronto. That's how close Philly is to not qualifying for the playoffs. The season is far from over and a win tonight would go a long way in terms of the Sixers' pursuit of home-court advantage in the first round. Anything less than that has to be considered a disaster for this team.
Value on the Under Tonight
It's hard to pinpoint one specific reason why the Sixers are struggling so much this season. What I do know is this team was built on defense over the years and that is not the case right now. I hate to bring up Ben Simmons but for all the talk of how their offense was better without him (it was but that has regressed big teams recently), there is no question that his absence has made their defense much worse. Simmons is easily one of the top defenders in the entire league, one of the few stars who take great pride in defending.
Without him, they lose a player that has the ability to guard multiple positions and also set the tone. He regularly wanted to guard the other team's best player and with that gone, so has the Sixers defensive consistency. In terms of how that applies to tonight, if Philly doesn't bring the required defensive effort against this depleted Nets team, they will lose.
While Stephen Curry might be grabbing all the headlines, Kevin Durant is the most unstoppable player in the NBA right now. He can single-handedly lead this team to victory against any opponent. Know for your best bets the total for this game is 214 and I'm taking the under in this spot. Let's not forget, the Nets are one of the best defensive teams in the league so I expect their effort to be there. With how important this game is to the Sixers, I see a very methodical approach from them that leans under.
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