Impact of Joel Embiid's injury
The 76ers' difficult road
BY JEFF FOGLE
After the 76ers eliminated the Raptors on Thursday, Raptors forward Pascal Siakam said he “felt awful” about elbowing Joel Embiid in the face. Both players are from Cameroon, and have a long shared history. “I was trying to make a move,” Siakam said. “Obviously, I apologized to him after that. It was definitely not my intention.”
Joel Embiid said that he thought he might have broken his face. On Friday evening came reports that Embiid would be out indefinitely with a right orbital fracture and concussion.
What does it mean for the 76ers? TrueHoop has been using betting markets for insight into the NBA’s future. (Here’s TrueHoop’s report on the odds for the second round before Friday’s news.)
Markets moved quickly and emphatically. Before the news, the Heat were 4-point favorites. Late Friday they had moved to 8.5 points. We recently discussed the measurable value of NBA stars; a 4.5 point swing is a lot. The line will likely settle between now and tipoff.
Embiid is a high-impact player. His absence is likely to be felt for as long as he’s out. Because there are questions about the duration of his recovery, markets took series and futures prices off the board Friday night.
The Heat’s odds of winning Game 1 have climbed. Sportsbooks build a universe larger than 100 percent to create their house edge. Accounting for that, Miami essentially went from a 60/40 favorite to a 75/25 favorite to win Monday’s series opener. (Before the news the Heat were -170, after the news: -350.)
Meanwhile, the series odds are off the board for now. If Embiid is out for the whole series, the Heat will be even higher than -350 (77.8 percent) to win “a race to four.” Percentage-wise, big favorites are even more likely to own such sprints. It’s hard enough for underdogs to score one upset, let alone four in a short stretch. If reports surface that Embiid may only miss a week, the Heat would still be heavy favorites because of what’s likely to be a strong head start.
A quick comparison: the Heat were -6.5 in their series opener vs. the Hawks, and -334 (77 percent) to win the series. If the Heat are -8.5 favorites on Monday, and Embiid is unlikely to return, the odds would suggest the Heat are about 85 percent likely to advance.
The Sixers championship odds have been slim because their pathway is so tough. To win the NBA title, they would have to win on the road, in order, against the Heat, either the Celtics or Bucks, and then the West champions. Before news of Embiid’s injury, the Sixers odds were +1600, or 5.8 percent. For now, they are off the board.
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