NBA playoffs odds: Why are the 76ers such a disrespected No. 1 seed?

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For a No. 1 seed, there's not a lot of love for the Philadelphia 76ers as the NBA playoffs start. 

Seeds don't matter too much to bettors or oddsmakers, but for obvious reasons the seeds and odds have a correlation. Top seeds are typically the top teams in a conference and the odds reflect that, or close. 

Try telling the 76ers. Not only are the 76ers not favored to win the Eastern Conference at BetMGM, they're not really close. Maybe that just means they're sneaky value. 

76ers aren't favored in the East

The Brooklyn Nets are the favorite to win the NBA championship at BetMGM, and a heavy favorite to win the East. The Nets are -110 to win the East, which is an overwhelming number considering their likely path to the NBA Finals will have to go through the Milwaukee Bucks and 76ers. 

At least the 76ers are the second favorite. They're +300 to win the East. The 76ers are +750 to win the title, tied for fourth-best odds. 

If you want to take the value on the 76ers, there's a pretty good reason: Their second-round matchup. The NBA doesn't reseed in the second round, meaning the Bucks (or Miami Heat, don't count out that upset) and Nets will face each other in the second round. Meanwhile, the 76ers will get the Knicks-Hawks winner. No offense to those two teams, but there's no argument over which of the top three seeds in the East has the easiest potential path to the conference finals. 

If we assume the 76ers can handle business in the first round and will be significant favorites in round two, you could hold a Philadelphia ticket at +300 against a Nets, Bucks or Heat team that just came off what should be a rough second-round series. That wouldn't be too bad. 

And it's not like the 76ers are incapable, especially if Joel Embiid is healthy. 

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid plays during an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic, Friday, May 14, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid plays during an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic, Friday, May 14, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Joel Embiid's health is key

The caveat with the 76ers is always Embiid's health. That's the gamble. 

Embiid might have won MVP if healthy, but missing games is part of his story. Still, the 76ers were 39-12 when Embiid played. Embiid is a dominant player and when he is on the floor, the 76ers are an elite team. They went 10-11 in games he didn't play. 

Mostly the 76ers' chances come down to Embiid being healthy and how they can match up against the Nets. The 76ers beat the Nets in two of three regular-season meetings, but that means little because the Nets' three stars didn't play together in any of the three games. The Nets are also not a great interior defensive team and Embiid could have a big series against them. It's not an impossible matchup for a team that went 39-12 with its best player in the lineup. 

The Nets are the favorites to win the East and it's obvious why. They have three of the best players in the NBA, and it's hard to imagine a team slowing down James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving if they're all healthy. 

It's just odd for a team like the 76ers, who have stars themselves and are in a huge market, to be overlooked as a No. 1 seed. Yet, the odds aren't treating them like a top seed.