The Sixers might be the third seed in the Eastern Conference, but they are No. 1 in the hearts – and wallets – of the heavy hitters in Vegas.
After the Cavaliers became the final team in the East to win its first-round series Sunday, Westgate Sports Book in Las Vegas reset its NBA championship odds. The Sixers and Raptors are the top teams to win the conference at 10-1. Westgate is the largest sports book on the Strip.
Westgate's odds came out after Golden State and Houston won Game 1 of their second-round series, which gives them a significant head start on their Western Conference opponents. The East will start its second round Monday night with the Sixers at Boston. Toronto will host Cleveland in their Game 1 on Tuesday.
Vegas Vic had the Sixers at 80-1 to win the NBA title at the start of the season, and their regular-season win total at 40.5. They easily covered that number by going 52-30 and are 4-1 favorites to beat Boston in this series.
*Update, 4:45 p.m. Monday: Westgate has moved its series line and currently has the 76ers at 6-1. For Game 1, the Sixers are up to -4.5. That number, which opened at -2.5, likely will only get higher closer to tip (8 p.m., TNT).
"They've been getting support (from gamblers) since the big win streak at the end of the season," said Jeff Sherman, the Race & Sportsbook manager at Westgate. "They're piling on as Boston keeps losing important pieces … we expect them to be double-digit favorites" when the series shifts back to Philadelphia on Saturday for Game 3.
Amazing when you consider this team was 10-72 two years ago.
Vegas Vic, the Nevada-based handicapper for the Daily News, Inquirer and Philly.com, is taking the Sixers in Monday's Game 1. He offered the following pick Sunday night when the line was even more appealing:
Double V is gonna roll with the Sixers -3 points over the Celtics.
It's a process. And now, the PROCESS is a staggering -$400 favorite over the Celtics to advance to the Eastern Conference Final. And Boston has the HOME-COURT edge. WOW.
Here's what you need to know about the regular-season results: In the first meeting, in Philadelphia, the Celtics were a 3-point underdog, and posted a 102-92 victory, with the total, 216.5, going under. Then it was up to Boston, and the Cs, -8, picked up another W and cover in a 108-97 win. The total, 211.5, went low again. Then it was off to London, where the Celtics, -2, rocked a 114-103 victory, while the total, 212.0, bounced over for the first time. In the final meeting up in Beantown, the Celts were -3 and lost for the first time, 89-80. And obviously, the total, 203.5, went WAY under.
OK, class, here's the question: What was different in the final meeting that Philly finally won after three tries? Answer, NO KYRIE! Uncle Drew was on the court for the first three wins, NOT on the court for the loss. So, we're not really surprised that the Sixers are favored in Game 1, and for the series. They rumbled down the home stretch and into the playoffs winning 20 of the last 21 (95%), and they have covered 15 of the last 19 overall (79%), including 6 of the last 7 on the road (86%).
Impressive numbers for sure, and while the Celtics might be a little thin without Kyrie and possibly NO Jaylen Brown (questionable/doubtful), they do have Brad Stevens, THE BEST coach in the NBA. Still believe that the good guys will rock, so I'll wager $55 to win back $50 on the Sixers.
On the call
The NBA moves exclusively to network telecasts after the first round, which means Marc Zumoff and Alaa Abdelnaby will be on the bench for the remainder of the playoffs.
Monday night's game will be on TNT and called by Brian Anderson and Kevin McHale. A Celtics great calling a series against the Sixers, that oughta get Philadelphia Twitter going. Ros Gold-Onwude will be the sideline reporter.
McHale played all 13 of his NBA seasons for the Celtics (1980-93) and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999. He was a rookie in 1981 when Boston overcame a 3-1 series deficit to the Sixers in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics won those final three games by a total of five points.