After a 20-point victory in Game 1, the Philadelphia 76ers are even heavier betting favorites against the Brooklyn Nets in Game 2 on Monday night.
The spread was -8.5 in Game 1, and it’s at -10 for Game 2 as of this writing. The over/under of 215 in Game 1 went over by eight points, but it does not look like oddsmakers are adjusting that line for Game 2.
Thankfully there were no injuries to report on either side in the first game, so the starting lineups remain at full strength.
Read on for in-depth analysis of tonight’s Game 2 matchup between the Nets and the 76ers.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers Betting Odds
The 76ers opened as -10 favorites at DraftKings in this Game 2 matchup with moneyline odds at -500. Both of those lines have increased over the closing numbers for Game 1, which is not surprising considering how thoroughly the Sixers handled the Nets in that game.
The Nets’ moneyline odds are at +400 at DraftKings, and slightly lower at most other sportsbooks including FanDuel (+380) and Caesars (+360).
The public is not betting Philadelphia as heavily as it did in Game1, where the 76ers got roughly 80% of the money against the spread and closer to 90% on the moneyline. So far the money is more split on Game 2, with the 76ers getting 56% of the handle against the spread and 70% on the moneyline, per VSiN.
The over/under for this game opened at 215 and has dropped to 214. It’s interesting to see this line where it is after the total in Game 1 was 222 compared to a closing line of 214. Oddsmakers clearly do not expect these teams to again shoot a combined 47.2% from three on 72 attempts, which helped drive the over to hit in Game 1.
The public agrees that Game 2 will be lower-scoring, as roughly 65% of the money is on the under. That handle is compared to just 20% of bets, so it appears some big bets have been placed on the under in the early-going.
The implied outcome of these odds is the 76ers winning 112-102.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers Game 1 Prediction
Game 1 must have been so frustrating for Brooklyn. It’s hard to imagine them playing a much better game on the road in the playoffs.
They limited Joel Embiid to just 26 points on 15 shots. They got 23 points in the first half alone from their emerging superstar Mikal Bridges. They had arguably their best shooting performance of the season. Still, they lost by 20 points.
To put things in perspective, the Nets’ effective field goal percentage of 65% was the highest in a loss in NBA Playoffs history.
The Nets had a 65.0 eFG%
— Mike Lynch (@SportInfo247) April 15, 2023
The reality is, as well as the Nets played in Game 1, when the 76ers play as well as they did, very few teams in the league can compete.
Perhaps I should amend that to say when James Harden plays as well as he did. In my Game 1 preview, I wrote:
Harden’s execution as a playmaker will be the biggest factor determining if the Nets can keep the game close or if the 76ers run away with it.
Harden managed the 76ers’ offense as well as he possibly could, and well, the 76ers ended up running away with it. Harden, who had 13 assists on the night, evoked comparisons from 76ers coach Doc Rivers to a baseball catcher calling a perfect game.
Doc Rivers said he thought James Harden had one of his best games as a “catcher” today, saying Harden — who finished with 13 assists — called a “perfect game.”
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) April 15, 2023
Now the question is, can we expect a similar storyline in Game 2?
I picked the Nets to cover in Game 1 with the expectation that they would at least be able to keep games close with Philadelphia, and if they were going to give them a scare on the road, it was going to come in the first game.
I still expect the Nets to steal a game at some point in the series. History suggests the 76ers will let their guard down at some point and give Brooklyn an opening to avoid the sweep. Maybe I am overreacting to one game, but I don’t expect tonight to be that night.
- The 76ers are 6-2 in their last eight Conference Quarterfinals games.
- The Over is 4-0 in the 76ers last four games, and 5-2 in the Nets’ last seven road games.
- The Over is 6-0 in the Nets’ last six games following a straight-up loss.
The Nets got beat handily in three important categories in Game 1: three-point shooting, points off turnovers and second-chance points. They need to flip the script in those categories to compete in Game 2.
These teams combined to shoot 47.2% from beyond the arc in Game 1, as the 76ers sunk a franchise playoff record 21 three pointers. It’s unlikely that either team can maintain that level of efficiency throughout the series, but it will be a crucial aspect of the game for both teams.
If the 76ers are shooting the way they did, they become nearly impossible to defend, especially with Joel Embiid handling double teams way better than he ever has in his career.
Here's a few examples of Joel Embiid beating the Nets' aggressive double teams.
The Sixers can't always shoot 48% from 3, but Embiid's quick passing and the team's ball movement was on point. pic.twitter.com/8pavPO0jea
— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) April 16, 2023
It will be interesting to see if Brooklyn deploys the same strategy of double-teaming Embiid on practically every touch. Perhaps they will gamble that the 76ers will not shoot as well as they did in Game 1 again. But if they do, especially in the early game, that could dictate how the Nets defend Embiid.
On the other end, the Nets need to find a way to sustain their three-point shooting success, which has not been a strong point of the team since the Kevin Durant trade. In the 27 games since that trade, the Nets are 6th in the league with 38.3 three-point shot attempts per 100 possessions, but they are just 20th in three-point percentage at 35.4%.
The 76ers led the league in three-point shooting percentage this season.
If the Nets cannot find a way to win the three-point battle, it’s unlikely they can keep the game close.
For an overmatched team like the Nets to compete with the 76ers, they need to win the matchup in the “hustle” categories, namely second-chance points and points off turnovers. They cannot afford to give the 76ers extra possessions via offensive rebounds and turnovers, where the Sixers had a huge edge in Game 1.
Philadelphia won the turnover battle 20-9 in Game 1, which led to a 31-11 advantage in points off turnovers. The 76ers also hauled in 14 offensive rebounds, including five by P.J. Tucker, compared to just five by Brooklyn. That gap led to a 21-3 disparity in second-chance points.
The Nets have no chance if they are going to spot the 76ers a 38-point advantage in those two categories.
Rebounding and second-chance points have been areas of weakness for the Nets all season, including in the 27 games since the Durant trade. During that span, they are 26th in the league in offensive rebounding rate at 25.1% while allowing opponents to grab offensive boards on 31.1% of opportunities (28th). That has led to them allowing 14.6 second-chance points per game (24th in the league) while scoring just 11.6 per game in that situation (27th).
The 76ers have not been a good offensive rebounding team this season, but they seem to have an edge over Brooklyn in that category. If that continues in Game 2, expect another comfortable win and another cover.
Brooklyn Nets Starting Lineups
Philadelphia 76ers Starting Lineups
Brooklyn Nets Injuries: PG Ben Simmons (O – back/knee)
Philadelphia 76ers Injuries: None