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Kings vs. 76ers prediction: Back Philly as a solid home favorite Tuesday

With Sacramento’s leading scorer ailing, bet on the Sixers to win and cover their third in a row

The Philadelphia 76ers are 2-1 since guard James Harden returned from an injury that sidelined him for 14 games. Harden and the Sixers welcome the Sacramento Kings to Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
The Philadelphia 76ers are 2-1 since guard James Harden returned from an injury that sidelined him for 14 games. Harden and the Sixers welcome the Sacramento Kings to Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)Read moreTimothy Nwachukwu / Getty Images

Few would’ve predicted prior to the season that the Sacramento Kings and Philadelphia 76ers would have near identical records by the time they met for the first time in mid-December.

Yet the Kings (14-11) will walk into the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night with a slightly better record than the 76ers (14-12).

So why is Philadelphia the second-biggest favorite on Tuesday’s five-game NBA card? Because the 76ers are finally getting healthy — and because Sacramento’s best player is not (and very well could miss his third straight contest).

Another reason: travel logistics.

Philly will be playing the third game of a season-long seven-game homestand. Meanwhile, the Kings will be playing their seventh straight contest in a different city (and fifth on the road) since Nov. 30.

How does all this factor into our Kings vs. 76ers prediction? Let’s just say that — records aside — we’re rolling with the preseason NBA title contender, not the perennial NBA doormat.

Note: Odds updated as of 11 a.m. Dec. 13.

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Kings vs. 76ers Prediction

  1. 76ers -5 (at Caesars Sportsbook)

Kings vs. 76ers Prediction: Analysis

The Sixers opened their season-long seven-game homestead this past weekend with a pair of high-scoring victories.

After dumping LeBron James and the Lakers 133-122 in overtime Friday, Philadelphia turned a huge night from Joel Embiid — 53 points on 20-for-32 shooting and 12 rebounds — into a 131-113 rout of the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday.

The two victories follow and 0-for-3 road swing to Cleveland, Memphis and Houston. In the latter contest, All-Star guard James Harden returned to the court after sitting out 14 games mostly due to a foot injury.

As expected, there’s been an uptick in scoring with Harden on the court — for both teams. Philadelphia has scored 132, 133, 131 points but allowed an average of 119.3 points.

The Kings, meanwhile, arrive in Philly with the NBA’s second most prolific scoring offense (118 ppg). They also arrive having won four of their last six games — but possibly without star point guard De’Aaron Fox.

Fox, who leads Sacramento in scoring at 22.8 points per contest, missed the team’s last two games against the Cavaliers and Knicks with a foot injury. The sixth-year pro from Kentucky, who has scored in double figures in all but one of his 22 games this season, is questionable for Tuesday.

» READ MORE: How dominant was Joel Embiid’s 53-point performance? His Sixers teammates weigh in.

Fox’s injury is the primary reason we’re siding with Philadelphia in this one. Even if he suits up, Fox figures to be hobbled, which isn’t how you want to face a team that plays with tempo (as the Sixers do when Harden is on the floor).

Granted, the Kings more than held their own last year when they visited Philly without Fox — the Sixers needed a second-half rally to eke out a 103-101 victory as a 10.5-point home favorite. But that game was played two weeks before Philadelphia acquired Harden from Brooklyn.

With and without Harden — and with and without Fox — the 76ers have won seven straight meetings in this rivalry. And prior to last year’s nailbiter at Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia had covered four in a row.

In addition to Fox’s status — as well as Sacramento’s overall road weariness, playing its seventh straight game in a different town — there’s another reason we’re not sweating this point spread: Both teams have been involved in blowout after blowout lately.

During its current 4-2 SU and ATS run, Sacramento’s games have been decided by 23, 27, 9, 13, 11 and 13 points. Meanwhile, Philadelphia is 5-3 SU and ATS in its last eight, with final point margins of 8, 30, 3, 28, 8, 9, 11 and 18.

Finally, these teams are statistical anomalies in many ways. For instance, the Kings are second in the NBA in scoring (118 points per game) and fourth in field-goal shooting (49%), while the Sixers’ defense is third in points allowed (108.4) and first in opponents’ 3-point shooting (33.1%).

Also, Philly is below average in scoring offense (23rd) but Sacramento is below average in scoring defense (20th).

» READ MORE: NBA betting trends: Celtics continue to produce big profits for bettors

However, there is one stat that heavily favors the Sixers: They make 38.3% of their 3-point shots, fourth best in the league. Sacramento’s 3-point defense? It ranks 24th (36.7%). And since Harden returned, Philly is shooting a blistering 46.6% from long range (48-for-103).

Meanwhile, of the three teams ranked ahead of the 76ers in 3-point shooting — Portland, Denver and Boston — the Kings have only faced the Celtics and Trail Blazers. Those teams combined to make 27 of 65 shots from beyond the arc against Sacramento (41.5%).

Both also beat the Kings handily: Boston won 122-104 as a 7.5-home favorite; Portland won 115-108 in Sacramento as a 3-point underdog in the season opener.

With Embiid leading the way — he’s scored 35-plus in four straight games — look for the 76ers to post a victory Tuesday somewhere between those seven-point and 16-point final margins. Lay the chalk at Caesars Sportsbook.

Kings vs. 76ers prediction odds (via Caesars Sportsbook)

  1. Point spread: Kings (+5) @ 76ers (-5)

  2. Moneyline: Kings (+175) @ 76ers (-210)

  3. Total: 229 points

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