Pelicans vs 76ers Picks: Embiid Too Big For Even Mt. Zion?

May 7, 2021 |
By: Alistair Corp
Pelicans vs 76ers Picks: Embiid Too Big For Even Mt. Zion?
Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers are allowing the eighth-fewest paint points per game in the NBA, which is bad news for second-year phenom Zion Williamson.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports
Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers are allowing the eighth-fewest paint points per game in the NBA, which is bad news for second-year phenom Zion Williamson.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans will continue their pursuit of the final play-in tournament spot in the Western Conference against the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, the first stop in what will be a five-game road trip.

New Orleans, crucially, split a back-to-back earlier in the week against the Warriors, while Philadelphia rides a six-game win streak into this one. 

Here are our best NBA betting free picks and predictions for Pelicans vs. 76ers on May 7 at 7:00 p.m. ET. 

(Editor's Note: These picks were made prior to Joel Embiid being downgraded to Questionable for this game on Friday afternoon, and news of Zion Williamson's fractured finger that will keep him Out indefinitely.)

Pelicans vs 76ers odds

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NBA Sharp Money and Line Movement Report

By Patrick Everson

The 76ers opened -8 Thursday night at PointsBet USA, stretched to -10 and fell back to -9 by midmorning, then dropped straight to -7.5 early this afternoon, with Joel Embiid (knee) questionable. As of 4:15 p.m. ET, the line remains -7.5, with the Pelicans taking 53 percent of tickets and 78 percent of money. PointsBet's Wyatt Yearout said the Pelicans covering is the book's top NBA liability tonight. The total initially rose from 228 to 229.5, then backed up to 226.5, with 67 percent of bets on the Over, but 69 percent of cash on the Under.

Check out the full line movement for this game

Pelicans at 76ers betting preview


Pelicans: Zion Williamson PF (Out), Brandon Ingram SF (Out), Steven Adams C (Questionable), Nickeil Alexander-Walker SG (Out), Josh Hart SG (Out).
76ers: Joel Embiid C (Questionable), Furkan Korkmaz SG (Questionable).
Find our latest NBA injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The 76ers are 5-1 ATS in their last six games. Find more NBA betting trends for Pelicans vs. 76ers.

Against the spread (ATS) pick

The Pelicans are now just 1.5 games back of the free-falling Spurs and are looking increasingly likely of earning the final spot in the play-in tournament. If New Orleans does, in fact, take the 10th seed from San Antonio, it will have done it despite porous coaching and management.

More specifically, they will have done it because of Zion Williamson. The second-year phenom, while still far from the finished product, has become completely unguardable going to the rack. Zion is averaging 14.3 shots from within five feet per game in 2021 — an absurd 84 percent of his total per game attempts — and he's finishing those shots at a fabulous 65.4 percent clip. 

Williamson's excellent efficiency at the rim is the lifeblood of the Pels' offense, whether he is finishing it himself or dumping it off for a cutter or someone at the dunker's spot. At 54.2 paint points per game, only Memphis is scoring more often in the paint per game this year.

New Orleans' dependency on Zion has been rewarded consistently this season but it will be costly in this spot. In addition to Defensive Player of the Year candidate Ben Simmons, Zion and the Pels will need to get by Joel Embiid.

The 6ers' big man is a dominant rim protector and one of the few players in the NBA big enough not to be bowled over by a Williamson drive. Embiid and Philadelphia allow the eighth-fewest paint points per game in the NBA at 46.1, and at home, that number shrinks to 44.9.

Zion took advantage of a lethargic Embiid performance in the first game between these two in early April, Embiid's fourth game back from a knee injury. That one saw Williamson score 37 with 15 rebounds and eight assists, while Embiid had just a lowly 14/8/1 line. In the second clash between these two superstars, expect Embiid and the 76ers to play up to their usual standard. 

PREDICTION: 76ers -8.5 (-115)

Over/Under pick

With two All-Defense caliber defenders in Embiid and Simmons flanked by smart veterans, the 76ers have gotten by on the strength of their defense all season. While their offense has wavered since the All-Star break, their defense has remained elite, with the 6ers second in the NBA in defensive rating and defensive efficiency.

The Pelicans, one of the league's best Over bets this year at 40-26 O/U, have needed to squeeze every last drop of production out of Williamson and Brandon Ingram to make up for absolutely pathetic defensive efforts from their two cornerstones. With Ingram out for this one and Williamson facing one of the most difficult tests going to the rim, New Orleans' offense will greatly suffer. 

In an uncharacteristically timid Embiid game — one that saw Zion dominate — the Pelicans and 76ers played under the 229 total in their first matchup this year. Philadelphia and Embiid should be expected to dictate the rematch at home, which means the 6ers' defense flexing their muscles and showing they are the best unit in this matchup. 

PREDICTION: Under 228.5 (-110)

Player prop pick

For as good as Williamson was before the All-Star break, doing enough to earn his first nod for the game, he has been on an absolute heater since then. Zion's averaging over three points more per game since the All-Star break than he was before it, pouring in 28.8 points a night on just below 61 percent shooting.

The onus will be entirely on Williamson here, with his running mate in Ingram set to miss out with an ankle injury. With Simmons providing resistance on the perimeter and Embiid swallowing him up in the paint, Williamson will have an off night for a New Orleans team that can't afford many from their great hope.

PREDICTION: Zion Williamson Under 28.5 Points (-110)

Pelicans vs 76ers betting card

  • 76ers -8.5 (-115)
  • Under 228.5 (-110)
  • Zion Williamson Under 28.5 Points (-110)

Picks made on 5/6/2021 at 7:30 p.m. ET

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