The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has taken a $100,500 bet that the Philadelphia 76ers will make the playoffs, the second straight year that a bettor has risked massive amounts of cash on a perceived sure thing on the upcoming NBA season.
The bet was made at -5000 odds on Wednesday, meaning the gambler in question will win $2,010 if the 76ers manage to find their way into the postseason.
Warriors Playoff Bettor Trying Luck Again
If that bet sounds familiar, it’s because the Westgate SuperBook took a similar $67,000 bet on the Golden State Warriors last year. That was considered even more of a certainty: when the Warriors inevitably made the playoffs, the ticket paid out just $670 thanks to the -10000 odds.
Speaking to ESPN, SuperBook vice president of risk Jeff Sherman confirmed that the same bettor placed both of those wagers.
It would be a massive surprise if Philadelphia missed out on the playoffs. The Sixers are coming off a strong season in which they went 51-31 before reaching the Eastern Conference semifinals and losing out to the future NBA champion Toronto Raptors in a tight seven-game series.
While Philadelphia wasn’t involved in any of the biggest moves of the offseason, it did trade Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat and lose JJ Redick to the New Orleans Pelicans, while adding Al Horford and Josh Richardson. Overall, the Sixers remain among the elite teams in the Eastern Conference, with the SuperBook listing Philadelphia as a +150 pick to win the conference. That trails only the Milwaukee Bucks (+125).
76ers Have Injury Concerns
But those numbers may understate the amount of risk in the anonymous gambler’s bet. While the 76ers are certainly one of the most talented teams in the NBA, there are reasons to think it’s at least conceivable things could go south for them, perhaps more easily than most teams of their pedigree.
The main concern will be injuries. Naturally, any team can have injury problems, but All-Star center Joel Embiid has a history of knee and back issues that have limited his playing time: in his first three season in the NBA, he has never played more than 64 games.
Even without Embiid, Philadelphia would still be expected to easily make the playoffs. But the unexpected loss of another elite player like Ben Simmons could suddenly put the season in jeopardy. That’s unlikely, but there have been teams with worse luck in the past.
That helps explain why the Westgate gave even longer odds on Golden State last season. Even if two of the Warriors’ top stars – say, Kevin Durant, who did go down in the playoffs, and Steph Curry – were out for the season, Golden State would still have had enough talent to make the playoffs behind players like Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, albeit not as a championship contender.
In all likelihood, the Sixers playoff bet will pay off, and it almost has to in order to be profitable. To break even in the long run, bets with -5000 odds would have to pay out just over 98 percent of the time, meaning there’s little margin for error for a bet with relatively modest rewards. On the other hand, a bet that is highly certain to pay out can also be seen more like an investment – a bond that promises a two percent return, payable in April 2020.