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76ers vs. Wizards prediction: Bank on red-hot Sixers to win, cover again

Winners of eight in a row, the Sixers should deliver another comfortable victory in Washington

Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden has scored 47 points, dished out 27 assists and pulled down 12 rebounds in two games against the Washington Wizards this season. Harden and the surging Sixers are favored to win in Washington on Tuesday night. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden has scored 47 points, dished out 27 assists and pulled down 12 rebounds in two games against the Washington Wizards this season. Harden and the surging Sixers are favored to win in Washington on Tuesday night. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)Read moreTim Nwachukwu / Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers are riding a season-high eight-game winning streak and have covered the point spread in all but one of those victories.

The Washington Wizards have exactly three wins since Thanksgiving, they’re 5-14-1 ATS since mid-November (including 1-6 ATS at home), and they’re coming off a grueling six-game West Coast road trip.

So why is Philadelphia just a modest favorite in Washington on Tuesday night?

Great question — one that we cannot answer. Which is why we’re backing that modest road favorite with our 76ers vs. Wizards prediction.

Odds updated as of 12:45 p.m. ET on Dec. 27.

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76ers vs. Wizards Prediction: Pick

  1. 76ers -4.5 (at Caesars Sportsbook)

76ers vs. Wizards Prediction: Analysis

Sucker bet? Perhaps.

After all, Washington has had three full days off since wrapping up its nine-day Western Conference journey with a 125-111 victory over the Sacramento Kings.

Conversely, the 76ers opened a four-game road trip with a 119-112 victory over the Knicks on Christmas Day. Philadelphia trailed by 10 points in the first half, but pulled away late and easily covered as a 2-point road favorite.

» READ MORE: Marcus Hayes: James Harden back to Houston in free agency? So what.

It was the second straight game in which the Sixers (20-12 SU and ATS) dug out of a big hole. On Thursday, they erased a 20-point deficit in a 119-114 home win over the Clippers.

Obviously, coach Doc Rivers would rather his squad not make a habit out of falling behind by double digits. But that shouldn’t be a problem against the Wizards, as teams often struggle out of the gate in their first home game following a lengthy road trip.

As it is, Washington (13-21, 13-20-1 ATS) is barely an average team on its home floor, going 8-7 SU and 5-9-1 ATS.

One of the defeats was against Philadelphia on Halloween. The 76ers cruised to a 118-111 victory as a 2.5-point road favorite — and that was without center and MVP candidate Joel Embiid manning the middle.

Embiid also missed the rematch in Philly three days later, when the Wizards got revenge by a near identical score (121-111 win as a 5.5-point road underdog).

On Tuesday, though, Embiid and his NBA-best 33.1 points per game will be on the court. So, too, will shooting guard James Harden, who had a combined 47 points, 17 assists and 12 rebounds in the two games against Washington.

» READ MORE: Joel Embiid and James Harden could become first teammates to lead the NBA in scoring and assists in 41 years

Harden also arrives in D.C. on a roll. He notched a triple-double against the Clippers (20 points, 11 rebounds, 21 assists), and had a 29-point, 13-assist effort against the Knicks on Sunday.

In fairness, we should note that Philadelphia point guard Tyrese Maxey will sit out his 18th straight game with a broken left foot (he’s expected back Friday). That’s noteworthy because Maxey played in the first two games against Washington and scored 32 and 28 points.

Also noteworthy: The Wizards split the final four games of their road trip, cashing in three of those contests (all as an underdog).

That said, Washington’s defense has been atrocious for more than a month.

Since Nov. 23, Washington has allowed 110 or more points in 16 of 17 games (the one exception: a 102-93 loss at the Clippers). During the 17-game stretch, the Wizards’ opponents are averaging a tick under 118 points per outing — and none of the contests went to overtime.

Meanwhile, the 76ers are averaging exactly 120 points during their eight-game winning streak. The only time Philadelphia failed to notch at least 113 points was last Monday’s 104-101 overtime victory over Toronto at home.

That was also the only occasion during the streak that the 76ers failed to win by at least five points and failed to cover the spread (they were a 6.5-point chalk).

In fact, with its ongoing 7-1 ATS romp, Philadelphia now owns the NBA’s best point spread record by percentage (just ahead of Portland, which is 21-13 ATS).

» READ MORE: Full sports betting coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer

On the other hand, only the Lakers (11-20-2 ATS) and Heat (11-21-2) have cashed fewer tickets than the Wizards.

Do we forecast a walk-in-the-park, double-digit blowout victory for the Sixers? No. But they should handle Washington by a comfortable enough margin.

And should we need Philadelphia to knock down some foul shots late to get us the cover, that shouldn’t be a problem. The Sixers are the league’s fourth-best free-throw shooting team (81.8%).

Comparatively, the Wizards rank 23rd in foul shooting (75.8%).

76ers vs. Wizards Odds: (via Caesars Sportsbook)

  1. Point spread: 76ers (-4.5) @ Wizards (+4.5)

  2. Moneyline: 76ers (-190) @ Wizards (+158)

  3. Total: 225.5 points

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