First to 15 Bets: Embiid & Co. Have Edge vs. Cavaliers

Action Network Senior Editor Malik Smith breaks down his top first to 15 pick for Wednesday's game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers.

There are so many ways to bet an NBA game, but for those bettors who can’t bear to sweat the full 48 minutes, there are other markets that offer more instant satisfaction. One of those markets is the Race to 15 Points. It’s as simple as the name suggests: The first team to hit 15 points cashes the bet.

Wednesday’s NBA slate is a busy one with seven games on the schedule, but tonight I’ll be focusing on one of the national TV games. Here’s my top first to 15 pick for the slate.

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Philadelphia 76ers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

First to 15 Odds 76ers: -120 | Cavaliers: -105
Time | TV 7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
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There’s a ton at stake in this game tonight. The 76ers are three games ahead of the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference standings and the winner of this game will own the tiebreaker if the Cavaliers can catch the Sixers by season’s end. That context factors into how we should expect both teams to approach a game in March that could easily be overlooked if it didn’t involve two teams chasing postseason positioning.

Over the past 10 games, both the 76ers and Cavaliers have struggled in the Race to 15 standings with respective records of 3-7 and 5-5. The 76ers rank 15th in first quarter scoring over that span and 25th in point differential. The Cavs rank 29th in first quarter scoring and 22nd in point differential.

Those numbers don’t inspire much confidence, but digging deeper, there’s reason to trust the process here. In that same 10-game span, the 76ers have been the third-highest scoring road team (32.4 points) in five games and for the season, they’ve been the second-best road team in the Race to 15 standings (19-12, 61.3%).

In their four home games over that span, the Cavaliers are still a bottom-five scoring team (27.5) and they haven’t been a particularly strong home team in this context all season, ranking 20th in the Race to 15 standings at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse (19-16, 54.3%).

There is also the injury report, which isn’t in Cleveland’s favor tonight. Jarrett Allen has been ruled out tonight with a lingering eye injury, which leaves the Cavs’ frontline undersized against Joel Embiid who leads the Sixers in first quarter Usage Rate (37%) by a wide margin. I like the 76ers to be the first to 15 in a critical game Wednesday.