76ers vs Heat: 3 Ways to Bet the Christmas Day Clash

Action Network contributor Andrew O'Connor-Watts previews how to bet 76ers vs. Heat, including updated odds, picks and predictions for Christmas Day.

76ers vs. Heat Prediction, Picks for Monday, Dec. 25

76ers Odds +3
Heat Odds -3
Moneyline +124 / -146
Over/Under 226
Time Monday, 8 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Here’s everything you need to know about 76ers vs. Heat on Monday, Dec. 25 — our expert prediction and betting picks for today.

The Philadelphia 76ers travel to Miami for a Christmas Day game against the Heat. Philly will be without their reigning MVP, Joel Embiid, who is dealing with an ankle injury. The Heat have gotten the better of the Sixers in recent matchups and they’ve been unstoppable on Christmas Day. Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is 8-0 on Dec. 25 and 7-1 against the spread. With Embiid sitting out, Coach Spo will be in good position for win number nine.

Let’s get to our 76ers vs. Heat prediction and pick.

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76ers vs. Heat Prediction

Pick: De’Anthony Melton over 1.5 TOs | Heat 1Q

76ers Betting Outlook

The 76ers have their work cut out for them without Embiid in the lineup, they are 0-3 straight up and 1-2 ATS in the three games he’s missed. At full strength, the Sixers have a deep squad, but without their MVP, the starting unit isn’t nearly as potent. That’s led to slow starts and the need to play catchup after falling behind early. Philly hasn’t covered a first quarter all season in non-Embiid games and the Sixers are 2-6 in their last eight without him dating back to last season.

The level of attention Embiid draws from opposing defenses is a crucial part of the way the 76ers run their offense. Without him, that attention gets distributed amongst his teammates. Tyrese Maxey sees the biggest usage bump in non-Embiid minutes (+12.2), per PBPStats, and his scoring output naturally increases. The books are well aware: Maxey’s points prop sits at 30.5 at most places.

Following right behind him in usage spike is De’Anthony Melton (+9.8) among 76ers who have played more than 200 minutes with Embiid. However, unlike Maxey, who is much better at creating his own shot, Melton’s Effective Field Goal percentage decreases without the gravitational attention given to Embiid. As a result, his scoring increases, but shot quality gets worse and he becomes much more turnover-prone.

Heat Betting Outlook

While Embiid’s absence is the big news, the Heat have some names on the injury report as well. Josh Richardson (back) is probable, while Haywood Highsmith (illness) and Jimmy Butler (calf) are both questionable. Butler missed the last two games with the injury, but the Heat went 2-0 against the Magic and Hawks. I’d be surprised if he missed a big game, but it’s certainly no guarantee he’ll lace up Christmas Day.

It would be unfortunate, but certainly not impossible to see both Embiid and Butler miss the Christmas Day showdown and as handicappers, we have to prepare for both possibilities.

One trend that’s been persistent regardless of Butler’s attendance is Miami’s ability to start games hot. They’re 19-10 ATS in the first quarter, despite a sub-.500 ATS record for full games — although an interesting wrinkle is they’re 12-3 on the road, compared to 7-7 at the Kaseya Center. That trend is seemingly Butler-proof. In the six games he’s missed, the Heat are 3-3 for the full game, but 4-2 ATS in the first 12 minutes of play.

Back to the discrepancy between first quarters and full games. A primary factor, is Miami’s inexplicable habit of melting down in the fourth quarter. Their offense dries up and the defense can’t stop a nose bleed. This provides a unique opportunity to live bet Philadelphia after the third quarter — especially if they’re playing from behind going into the fourth. It’s certainly not an impossible scenario if this season’s trends can be trusted with any confidence.

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76ers vs. Heat Picks, Odds

There are a few ways I’m playing this game. My biggest position is on Melton. I mentioned his usage bump and dip in shot quality, and we can add his turnovers per 100 possessions, which also jumps up with the added attention from opposing defenses.

His turnovers line sits at 1.5, which is a number he’s cleared in 12 of 16 games without Embiid. His points line is also a good look at 12.5. Melton averages 11.6 on the season, but 13.6 in 16 games without the Cameroonian big man, and he’s scored 13+ in 10 of those, but we could see a slower-paced game and I’ll stick to the turnovers. Miami’s defense is sixth in Turnover Percentage, per Cleaning the Glass.

A play I like more than Melton’s points is the Heat to cover the first quarter spread and I like them at any number and regardless if Butler plays or not. Philly is a bad first quarter team (3-9 ATS on the road) and i just talked about how good Miami has been at the beginning of games. However, if Highsmith, Richardson and Butler all miss Monday’s game, that would be worst case scenario. That said, the probability of all three missing a game of this importance is low and I’m willing to bet this before getting official lineups.

Finally, I’ll ride the fourth quarter Miami trend and find a way to fade Miami after the third. Follow in the app to see how I live bet this game after halftime (AOWatts13).

Pick: De’Anthony Melton over 1.5 TOs (1u) | Miami Heat 1Q (.7u) | Live bet 76ers after halftime