76ers vs. Nets Preview: How To Navigate Brooklyn’s Absences

Action Network betting analyst Kenny Ducey breaks down the betting value in the NBA matchup on Thursday night between the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets.

76ers vs. Nets Odds

76ers Odds +1.5
Nets Odds -1.5
Over/Under 214.5
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

With a laundry list of names missing on Thursday, the Brooklyn Nets will try to pull out another miraculous win when they host the Philadelphia 76ers, who enter on the second night of a back-to-back.

Will the team with an NBA-caliber bench prevail here, or are we in for more shenanigans? Let’s find the answer below.

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Embiid’s Return Hasn’t Made 76ers Profitable

Since the 76ers played on Wednesday, this is a very difficult game to gauge for them. We know Joel Embiid’s status has been unreliable throughout his career in these scenarios. Considering he missed a game earlier this week with a rib injury and entered Wednesday listed as questionable, there’s definitely a chance he sits this one out.

Let’s assume he plays, though. Embiid has been great since his return 10 games ago, averaging 26.2 points and 12.4 rebounds on 44.2% shooting. The Sixers defense has also been great, ranking 10th in efficiency with 109.3 points allowed per 100 possessions.

The bad news is that the offense has lagged behind considerably, ranking 26th in those games. The 76ers are just 3-6 against the spread with Embiid back in the lineup.

In those 10 games, the Sixers have made their mark on the inside, ranking 10th in restricted area defense and fourth in the surrounding paint. This will make life incredibly difficult on the Nets, who will be in search of high-percentage shots with inexperienced players and hit 74.1% of their shots in the restricted area against Toronto.

Nets Dealing With Multiple COVID Absences

The story remains the same for the Nets. They were limited to eight players on Tuesday night with numerous names hitting the shelf with COVID-related issues, including James Harden, Bruce Brown, DeAndre’ Bembry and LaMarcus Aldridge. When Blake Griffin fouled out late against the Raptors, it became a seven-man rotation. While the team was able to add Langston Galloway on a hardship exception, this remains a dire spot for the Nets.

Brooklyn wound up beating the Raptors in overtime on Tuesday, but it was ugly. The Nets took a 10-point lead into the half before they lost their legs and looked sluggish in the second half, falling behind by as many as 11. Toronto did its best to miss open shots and get the Nets back into the game, eventually losing in overtime.

Still, it was clear that Brooklyn ran out of gas with no bench to speak of, and it couldn’t have been good to have Kevin Durant logging 48 minutes considering he entered that game on the injury report.

We often talk about trends and recent numbers in these team breakdowns, but there really is no need when you’re dealing with such a unique circumstance. Brooklyn started David Duke, Jr. in that game and played Kessler Edwards — a second-round pick out of Pepperdine in 2021 — 43 minutes. If not for Toronto’s own ineptitude, this would have been ugly.

76ers-Nets Pick

This is a tough call for many reasons, but I think the biggest advantage Philly has here is its health. This has been a great defensive team since Embiid’s return, and it shouldn’t fall victim to the same mistakes of the Raptors. Brooklyn shot pretty poorly from 3-point range all things considered and relied on inside scoring, which simply shouldn’t be there against the Sixers.

With Durant, anything is possible, and I do think the Nets can get off to a good start just as they did against the Raptors with some looks falling early. That means the safe bet here is on the strong, well-staffed defense and the team with eight or nine players in its rotation to tire out late.

Picks: 76ers +1.5 (-110) | 76ers 2H ML (-108)