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The Philadelphia 76ers (25-13) and reigning MVP, Joel Embiid, are hosting the defending champion Denver Nuggets (28-13) and their two-time MVP, Nikola Jokic.
The heavyweight battle headlined by two of the consensus three best basketball players in the world could provide a preview of what is to come during the NBA Finals.
Embiid and Jokic have only faced each other twice since becoming MVP-level players (once in 2022 and again in 2023), with each team taking one win. Here, we will go over the betting odds and share our favorite picks as they renew their rivalry in the Nuggets vs. 76ers Tuesday matchup.
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On their home court, the 76ers are 4.5 points in favor. Their +8.2 average scoring differential is the third-highest in the league, and they’re 23-12 (65.7%) against the spread, whereas Denver is only 17-20-1 (46%).
|Over 229.5 (-110)
|Under 229.5 (-110)
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The Nuggets started the year unassumingly slow for being the defending champions. Injuries, a reshuffled bench rotation, and unexpected surges from other teams in the league allowed Denver to fade to the back of mind just a few months after they dominated the whole league en route to their first championship as a franchise.
A few months into the campaign and order is being restored. Denver is third in the West and will move within a half-game of the Western Conference lead if it wins on Tuesday night.
The Nuggets enter the matchup with 11 wins in their last 14 outings. They’re fifth in net rating and rebounding rate and seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio during that stretch, despite their trademark slow tempo (21st in pace of play).
Weirdly, Denver’s mid-season push hasn’t been directly catalyzed by increased output from Jokic. The reigning Finals MVP averaged a highly impressive but also typical stat line of 22.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 8.8 assists since the start of the 14-game run.
Where Jokic has stepped up his game is in his efficiency. Despite already being a PER prince, he shot an unfathomable 69.8% from the field, 55% from three, and 90.5% from the free-throw line during that run.
One of the problems the Nuggets are yet to solve is their bench. Despite players such as Peyton Watson, Julian Strawther, and Christian Braun popping at different points of the year, they rank 26th in net bench rating, right between the Portland Trail Blazers and Washington Wizards.
A host of players, including the Nuggets’ entire starting five, are listed as questionable for Tuesday. All five starters played on Sunday, and four of the five scored 20+ points.
Embiid is having the clear-cut best year of his career, which is quite a statement coming off an MVP campaign. He leads the league in scoring while boasting an absurd stat line of 34.9 points, 11.7 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 2.0 blocks.
Philly’s star dealt with knee swelling issues recently, but the team is 12-2 in its last 14 games with him in the lineup.
The Sixers are third in overall net rating and are excellent in all phases.
In an era dominated by three-point shooting, they held opponents to the lowest percentage on triples (33.7%). They had some struggles with their own shooting from range recently, but they’re still a top-half team and make up for it by leading the league in average points from the charity stripe.
One of the Sixers’ greatest assets is their ability to play at totally different speeds. They can grind games to a halt and run everything through Embiid in the halfcourt, they can fly in transition with Tyrese Maxey, or they can spread the court and work the ball around the horn until they find an open shooter.
The individual matchup between Jokic and Embiid will go a long way toward determining the final result. Despite Jokic’s offensive excellence, he allows the seventh-highest field goal percentage of centers that started at least half the season. Embiid, meanwhile, allows the seventh-lowest percentage.
Any concerns that Embiid lost a step because of his knee issue were put to rest on Monday when he scored 41 points in 31 minutes against the outstanding defense of the Houston Rockets.
While Jokic has a better resume, Embiid has been the best player in the league this season. He put up a crazy 47/18/5/3/2 stat line when the two met last January and, unlike the Joker, can rest easy knowing his teammates can help him out whenever he’s off the court since Philly ranks third in bench net rating.
A final point of consideration is the context of the game. Philly is one of the best home teams in the league, while Denver is only 11-9 with an average scoring differential barely above 0 on the road.
We like the Sixers to win and cover here. Be on the lookout for an Embiid masterclass as he continues to make the case that he’s the best player in the world currently playing.
Nuggets vs. 76ers pick: 76ers -4.5 at BetMGM
When: Tuesday, Jan. 16 @ 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field.
In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.More info on Grant Mitchell
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