76ers

2020 NBA championship odds: Updated look as NBA releases schedule for seeding games

2020 NBA championship odds: Updated look as NBA releases schedule for seeding games

The NBA schedule is set. Each team's eight remaining regular-season games are mapped out before the postseason begins. However, that doesn’t mean it’s too early to think about the NBA Finals, especially from a sports betting perspective. 

For the sake of this conversation, let’s assume the Sixers are firing on all cylinders and rip through the Eastern Conference playoffs en route to a berth in the Finals. If that happens, hopefully you locked in on the 28-1 odds ($100 wager pays $2,800) DraftKings is offering on Brett Brown and company to take home the title. 

Now, what about opponents from the West? Well, the last four times the Sixers made it to the big stage, they just happened to face star-studded Lakers squads (1980, 1982, 1983 and 2001). There’s no doubt star power would dominate the storylines once again in 2020 — LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons would be just a few of the big names in that series. One who thinks this matchup can happen should jump on DraftKings and FanDuel and grab 25-1 odds ($100 wager pays $2,500) on Sixers vs. Lakers. 

Then there is that other team in the City of Angels ... the Clippers. There’s plenty of elite talent on that roster too, starting with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. A Sixers vs. Clippers championship has odds of 27-1 on DraftKings and 28-1 on FanDuel. To put this in perspective, a Lakers vs. Bucks matchup is listed at 3-1 on FanDuel. Needless to say, the oddsmakers think the Sixers have a lot to prove just to make it to the Finals. 

The basketball fan in me would just love to see the Sixers meet the Rockets in the Finals. Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook would be pure entertainment. With no fans in attendance, wouldn’t it be great to hear the trash talking between the two rivals? I’m wondering how James Harden will play under these quieter conditions. The Beard could be even more dangerous in a streetball style game. which makes Sixers vs. Rockets at 80-1 odds on DraftKings ($100 wager pays $8,000) a little interesting. 

Want to really test the waters? BetMGM has odds on selecting the exact outcome of the Finals. The Sixers knocking off the Lakers is listed at 50-1, followed by the Sixers toppling the Clippers at 70-1 and Sixers over Rockets at 200-1 ($100 wager pays $20,000). On the flip side, the Lakers defeating the Sixers has odds of 35-1. That’s followed by Clippers over Sixers at 40-1 and the Rockets beating the Sixers at 125-1. 

The playoff run should be fast and furious, like a ride on Space Mountain giving bettors butterflies in their stomachs with every twist and turn of this unprecedented postseason. Let’s hope for the best and that everyone stays healthy so we can see how this season plays out. 

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2020 NBA schedule: Sixers set to play 3 scrimmages before season resumes

2020 NBA schedule: Sixers set to play 3 scrimmages before season resumes

The NBA on Saturday released its scrimmage schedule for the 22 teams participating in the league’s restart in Orlando. 

The Sixers are set to play three scrimmages:

July 24, 3:30 p.m. — Grizzlies
July 26, 12 p.m. — Thunder
July 28, 8:30 p.m. — Mavericks

The scrimmages are intended to serve as a final ramp-up into the resumption of the season. The Sixers, who began holding mandatory individual workouts at their practice facility in Camden, New Jersey, starting on Wednesday, are scheduled to arrive at Disney World next Thursday.

Brett Brown said Wednesday he’d like his team to be at a “B” fitness base that he can help improve to an “A” by the time seeding games start. It’s been challenging for many players to stay in shape because of restrictions related to the coronavirus. Matisse Thybulle, for one, said Thursday he doesn’t like running but it was his “only choice.”

"It’s obviously not basketball-type conditioning,” Thybulle said, “but it kept me at a cardio fitness level to where now that we’ve come back and started, and I’ve started doing my basketball workouts, I have a really solid baseline to build off.”

The hiatus has allowed Ben Simmons to recover from the back injury that sidelined him for the Sixers’ last eight games, and Simmons noted he's added muscle and feels more explosive.

Al Horford also said, “I probably wasn’t where I wanted to be this season” in terms of health, and that the time off has been helpful for him. 

Below is the Sixers’ schedule for the final eight games:

Aug. 1, 7 p.m.: Indiana
Aug. 3, 8 p.m: San Antonio
Aug. 5, 4 p.m.: Washington
Aug. 7, 6:30 p.m.: Orlando
Aug. 9, 6:30 p.m.: Portland
Aug. 11, 4:30 p.m.: Phoenix
Aug. 12, 6:30 p.m.: Toronto 
Aug. 14: Houston 

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How bubbly Matisse Thybulle is taking things in stride during bizarre rookie year

How bubbly Matisse Thybulle is taking things in stride during bizarre rookie year

Matisse Thybulle was his usual bubbly self Friday. The Sixers’ rookie literally hopped — like he actually jumped into his seat — on a video conference call with reporters. He signed off by calling all of us nerds.

The 2019 first-round pick was having a standout first season before play was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. Though his playing time had fluctuated, head coach Brett Brown said earlier in the season that he was grooming the young wing for the playoffs.

Still, Thybulle won’t take anything for granted as the team prepares to leave for the Disney World “bubble” next week.

“For me, every time I get out on the court, it’s a challenge to maintain, to keep my spot on the team,” Thybulle said. “And then with keeping the spot, you can never be stagnant.”

On opening night, Thybulle was asked to defend All-Star guard Kemba Walker. Walker had given the Sixers problems in the past and the rookie didn’t get off to a great start, committing two quick fouls. As the game went on, Thybulle settled in and showed the defensive prowess the Sixers drafted him for.

All season long, Thybulle has done well to take things as they come during a bizarre rookie year. He’s planning to take that same mentality to Florida.

Nobody really knows what’s going to happen," Thybulle said, "nobody really knows what to expect, or how things are going to go, or what anybody or any team looks like. Instead of setting expectations for myself or what I think the experience is going to be like, it’s been just trying to take each new step of this process as a new challenge, and then figuring out, when I get there, how I’m going to get through it.

"If you want to look at all the unknowns, you’ll just go crazy. Taking what I know and what I can control and trying to make the best out of that.

What we know about Thybulle is he has a propensity for disruption on the defensive end. He leads all rookies in steals — by a healthy margin — and is fifth in blocks. He’s one of only eight players in the NBA to have at least 80 steals and 40 blocks.

In order to get so many deflections and wreak havoc defensively, you need to be in top shape. If you’ve seen Thybulle’s Tik Tok adventures from early in the quarantine, you know that he lives in a small apartment and didn’t have the opportunity to keep up with basketball activities.

So, he turned to the only form of exercise he thought could help — even if he didn’t enjoy it.

“I don’t like running. I really don’t like it,” Thyulle said. “But through the quarantine, it was like my only choice. ... It’s obviously not basketball-type conditioning, but it kept me at a cardio fitness level to where now that we’ve come back and started, and I’ve started doing my basketball workouts, I have a really solid baseline to build off. In a matter of two weeks, I feel like I’ve gotten back into really good shape and I think it’s going to be easier to build on after this.”

Thybulle has been given a bunch of tough assignments this season. While he’s looked like a rookie at times, when he’s kept his fouls down and his three-point percentage up, you see a player that should be able to help come the postseason.

And in a year where nobody knows what the NBA playoffs will be like, it could be to the rookie’s advantage during his first postseason run.

“I think what I’ve heard about the playoffs is a little different than what the playoffs are going to look like this year,” Thybulle said. “Obviously, I’ve heard amazing things. Especially playing in Philly, I’ve heard so many great things about having our fans behind us.

"We’re finding ourselves in a situation where that’s not going to be the case, so I think it’s going to be new for everyone, even vets who have been part of the playoffs, trying to get a feel for what this is going to be like. But I’m open to the challenge and I’m excited for what’s in store.”

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