76ers, Bucks meet in Eastern Conference tilt

Tuesday night’s NBA schedule is pretty light with only five games, but one of them is a showdown between two of the Eastern Conference’s best teams.

The top of the East is very crowded with the Miami Heat in first place and three others just one game behind in the standings. Two of those teams are the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks, who have identical 46-28 records and are set to square off in Philly.

The Sixers, on the heels of going 2-1 in a quick three-game West Coast road trip, are favored by 1.5 points at BetMGM with the total listed at 231.5.

Philly has shown flashes of brilliance since it acquired James Harden from the Brooklyn Nets, but there have also been some lulls — particularly on the defensive end. The Sixers are 10-4 with Harden in the lineup, but he’s had a few dud performances along the way. One of those came on Sunday when he went just 2-of-11 from the field in a 114-104 loss to the Phoenix Suns, the NBA’s best team.

Milwaukee, meanwhile, has lost three of its last five road games but has had a few days to rest following Saturday’s 127-102 defeat at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies. The defending champion Bucks played that game without point guard Jrue Holiday, who is dealing with ankle soreness. He was listed as day-to-day on Milwaukee’s most recent injury report.

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The 76ers haven’t been kind to bettors this season as a home team. They are just 15-22 against the spread at the Wells Fargo Center, including an 11-17 ATS mark as a home favorite. The Bucks are 19-17 ATS on the road but just 3-8 ATS as a road underdog.

Additionally, the under is 17-10-1 when Philly is favored at home this season.

Philadelphia 76ers' James Harden plays during an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 20, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Philadelphia 76ers’ James Harden plays during an NBA basketball game on March 20, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Who else is playing in the NBA?

There are just four other games on Tuesday night’s slate. Other than the Sixers-Bucks game, the standout is probably the Utah Jazz on the road against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Jazz, who are favored by 1.5 points at BetMGM, have lost four straight and are looking to get back in the win column as they conclude their six-game road trip. The Clippers have lost their last five but could see the return of Paul George in this one. George has been sidelined since Dec. 22 with an elbow injury but was listed as questionable to play on Monday.

Elsewhere, the Washington Wizards are 3.5-point home underdogs vs. the Chicago Bulls, the Brooklyn Nets — with Kyrie Irving now available to play in home games — are 13.5-point favorites over the Detroit Pistons and the Dallas Mavericks are favored by 11.5 points at home against the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Looking ahead to the Final Four

If you’ve still got the NCAA tournament on your brain, there are plenty of updated odds to sort through.

Duke is now the national title favorite at +160, ahead of Kansas at +180, North Carolina at +475 and Villanova at +500.

Duke, in its final season under legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski, is a 4.5-point favorite over North Carolina on Saturday. The point spread is identical in the Kansas vs. Villanova game with KU as the favorite (and a very popular bet so far).

Duke freshman Paolo Banchero is the favorite to win Most Outstanding Player at +300. Behind him are Kansas’ Ochai Agabji (+450), Villanova’s Collin Gillespie (+800) and Kansas’ Remy Martin (+900). You can also get good value on North Carolina’s top three players — Armando Bacot (+1400), Brady Manek (+1600) and Caleb Love (+2200).

NHL, World Cup and NIT semis also on tap

If you can’t wait around until Saturday for your college basketball fix, the NIT semifinals will be played on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

In the first game, St. Bonaventure is a 1.5-point favorite over Xavier with the total listed at 139.5. In the late game, Texas A&M is favored by 1.5 over Washington State. The total is 133.5.

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In the NHL, there are nine games on the schedule. There are also a slew of World Cup qualifying matches, which we’ve previewed here.

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