The Philadelphia 76ers are in the playoffs; it's just a matter of who they meet in the first round. Part of that will be settled when they visit the Detroit Pistons tonight for the regular-season finale for both teams. Who do we like?
For the Sixers it goes like this: They're tied with New York
for the 7-8 spots in the Eastern Conference standings, and both are already in
the playoffs. The seven seed will meet the Miami Heat in the first round, while
the eight seed will get the Chicago Bulls. The Knicks hold the tie-breaker over
Philly based on the season's head-to-head play. So if both teams win Thursday
night (New York plays at the same time tonight at lowly Charlotte) the seedings
stay the same, as they will if both the Sixers and Knicks lose.
Now, would Philly prefer to play either Chicago or Miami?
Well, the Sixers went 1-2 vs. the Bulls this season, and 0-2 vs. the Heat. So
it might not matter much either way.
NBA bettors should note that the Sixers rested several key
players in their game at Milwaukee Wednesday night, among them Andre Iguodala,
Elton Brand, Louis Williams and Thaddeus Young, and still won the game. They
are likely to rest those players again Thursday.
Philly has been on a bit of a roller-coaster ride this year.
They started off this season by winning 20 of their first 29 games, then lost
21 of their next 32. But they look like they might be recovering just in time
for the playoffs, having won their last four in a row.
Wednesday night the Sixers won in Milwaukee 90-85, even
though, as mentioned above, they sat a bunch of guys and only shot 36 percent
from the floor.
On the other side of this matchup Detroit was eliminated
from playoff contention a long time ago. The Pistons started this season by
losing their first three games, and things haven't gotten much better since. In
its most recent outing Detroit lost at Indiana Monday 103-97, although it did
pick up the cover as seven-point road dogs.
But the Pistons are a respectable 17-15 straight-up and
17-14-1 against the spreads at home this season.
Philly only ranks 15th in the league this season
in FG shooting at 45 percent, but third in FG defense, holding foes to less than 43 percent
Detroit, meanwhile, ranks 25th in both FG
shooting at just under 44 percent and FG defense at 46 percent.
Both teams are getting outrebounded by an average of about
one board per game.
But the Sixers rank first in the league in fewest turnovers
at less than 11 per game, while the Pistons rank 27th at almost 15
turnovers per game.
The Betting Line
According to the NBA betting odds listed at SBR, most NBA betting shops had opened with Detroit as a 6.5-point
favorite over Philly. A heavy flow of NBA picks cam in on a Pistons cover, having now pushed the line to -8. The 'over/under' is lined at right around 183.5.
Sixers vs. Pistons
Philly has held a firm upper hand in the series with Detroit
this season, beating the Pistons three times by an average of 24 points. The
Sixers have held Detroit to an average of 72 points over those three games.
Sixers vs. Pistons
Free NBA Pick
We would usually steer well clear of a game like this. The
Sixers are clearly the better team, but they've got very little to play for. On
the other side, though, Detroit might want to try to end this lost season on a
good note, and send Ben Wallace to retirement with a victory. So we'll
tentatively add the Pistons to our list of free NBA picks for Thursday.
NBA Pick: Back the Pistons