Washington Wizards at Philadelphia 76ers Free NBA Picks, Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 2/28/2014
Washington Wizards (30-28) at Philadelphia 76ers (15-43)
NBA Basketball: Saturday, March 1, 7:30 p.m. EST (Wells Fargo Center)
Hall of Famer Jerry West is one of the most important and influential men in NBA history. On the court he was a singular talent, to the point he is the league's logo. As an executive, he helped build the Los Angeles Lakers into the marquee franchise in the sport. The guy wins everywhere he goes (also stops with Memphis and Golden State). So when he talks, people listen. And West said this week on ESPN radio that the NBA is the "weakest" he has ever seen it and that the ballyhooed 2014 draft class is, well, here's what he said: "Everyone is talking about an incredible draft class this year. I think it’s just the opposite -- I think it’s a poor one myself."
I bring this up for Saturday's Wizards-76ers preview because Philadelphia embodies everything that West referenced. The Sixers entered this season with the full intention of tanking -- and boy are they! -- after trading their best player, point guard Jrue Holiday, to New Orleans for Nerlens Noel and the Pelicans' 2014 first-round pick on 2013 draft night. We still don't know if Noel is any good as he hasn't played all season and won't. That first-round pick should be pretty good -- it's Top-5 protected -- and along with Philly's own pick the team could do a pretty fast rebuild. That is unless you believe West.
Washington Wizards at Philadelphia 76ers Betting Story Lines
There can be no arguing that Philadelphia is the worst team in the league right now. The Sixers added to the tank job by trading Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes last week at the deadline, and they got not a single thing that will help them this year. Danny Granger came over from Indiana, but he's been bought out after not playing a game and will land with the Clippers. The Sixers have lost 12 straight, and the last two were the worst of all.
On Monday the Bucks, with the NBA's worst record, won in Philly by 20. I touched on that in the NBA week-ahead story here at Doc's. OK, but I figured the Sixers had a great chance to end their skid Wednesday against Orlando, but the Magic won by 10 to end their 16-game road skid. Some guys named Henry Sims, James Anderson and Hollis Thompson were in the Sixers' starting five. Those three wouldn't start for some D-League teams. Maybe not even Kansas. The Magic aren't a good offensive team yet had six players in double-figures against the NBA's worst defense.
I also touched on the Wizards on the week-ahead story regarding big man Nene's knee injury that could keep him out the rest of the regular season. Washington had been 1-6 without Nene this year, and I figured the depressed Wizards would struggle without him. Instead, they had a character-building 134-129 triple-overtime victory in Toronto on Wednesday, the Wizards' fifth straight win. Marcin Gortat was terrific against the Raptors with 31 points and 12 rebounds --he fouled out in the third OT -- and he's going to have to continue to play well to make up for Nene's loss. John Wall had 31 as well. Toronto had won the first three meetings with Washington rather easily. The Wizards are still only 10-34 without Nene since he was acquired from Denver. Washington signed Drew Gooden to a 10-day contract to add a big body, but he didn't play against the Raptors.
Philadelphia won the first matchup this season against Washington on Nov. 1 in Washington, but the Wizards have won the next two, by 14 and eight points. Gortat has averaged 16.7 points and 10.0 boards in the three. Turner averaged 19.3 points against Washington and Hawes 16.5 points and 11.5 rebounds. 76ers rookie Michael Carter-Williams averages 21.3 points and 5.7 assists.
Washington Wizards at Philadelphia 76ers NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
According to odds from BetOnline, Washington opened as a 10-point favorite with a total of 212.5. The Wizards are 32-25-1 against the spread (21-8 on road) and 32-26 "over/under" (17-12 on road). The Sixers are 22-36 ATS (8-22 at home) and 28-27-3 O/U (16-13-1 at home). Washington is 6-1 ATS in its past seven road games against teams with a losing home record. The Wizards are 1-4 ATS in their past five Saturday games. Philadelphia is 1-8 ATS in its past nine against teams with a winning record. The over is 5-2 in Washington's past seven road games against teams with a losing home record. The over is 8-2 in Philly's past 10 against teams with a winning record. The under is 6-2 in the past eight meetings. The Wizards are 1-5 ATS in their past six in Philadelphia.
Washington Wizards at Philadelphia 76ers Free NBA Picks and Betting Predictions
I mentioned in the week-ahead story that I believed the Wizards would struggle in this matchup as it's a major letdown game. That's even more accurate after such an emotionally and physically draining win in Toronto and with just the one day off. Gortat played 51 minutes in Toronto, Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal 50 each and Wall 49. This team is going to be gassed. This also ends a five-game homestand for Philly, so I expect a spirited effort -- also Allen Iverson's jersey will be retired and raised to the rafters. Maybe that's good karma. A straight-up win really wouldn't surprise me, but I like the points -- when is the last time Washington was a double-digit road favorite?!?! -- and the over.
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