Ben Simmons is no closer to playing Tuesday night than he was last week, and that is not going to make for a stable week in the city that has turned on its former “superstar” with no speedy resolution in sight.

The 76ers will be at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, sporting the same 2-1 record as the homestanding Knickerbockers after they were upset by the Orlando Magic on Sunday night on what was a bad night for the local hoops teams in New York. The Sixers have won 15 in a row against New York.

But at least the Knicks have all of their players. That is something Philly has not been able to say all season and something they likely will not say for the foreseeable future, or at least until they are rid of Simmons. Philadelphia general manager Daryl Morey did not give the optimists any hope when he said late last week that this saga could drag on for years, not weeks or days. 

The 76ers, “a fun team on a championship path” according to Morey, have been installed as 1-point underdogs against a Knicks team that looked quite good in its first two games before Terrence Ross went off for all 22 of his points in the fourth quarter to give the Magic their first win. Philadelphia has defeated Oklahoma City and New Orleans while also losing to the Nets, and this matchup with New York is sort of a litmus test for them because the teams are about evenly matched as they go through existential changes: The Knicks taking a whole bunch more 3-pointers than they formerly did and the Sixers trying to ride out the Simmons trade demand while getting the most out of whoever is playing point guard despite that player’s natural position not being point guard.

Tuesday's nightcap matches the unbeaten Utah Jazz (2-0) against what could have been an unbeaten Denver Nuggets team if they had managed to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers last night, which they did not. That second game should be a cut above in terms of competitiveness and the quality of the teams playing, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the broadcast and studio crews on TNT will devote about 80-90 per cent of their conversation to Simmons.

In his absence, the 76ers have been getting 20.3 points per game from Seth Curry, who is shooting an unconscious 68.8 percent from the field overall and 76.5 percent from 3-point range. Curry has never averaged more than 12.8 points per game, so it is worth noting that his Most Improved Player odds are currently sitting at +10000. Remember when we told you that the books can sometimes be slow to update certain futures markets, and they also tend to fall in love with one player (it is Ja Morant this season) and leave him sitting as the favorite? We may been looking at that type of thing right now, and you can be damn sure Curry will not stay at 1000/1 if he drops 28 points on the Knicks tonight as he did against the Thunder on Sunday night.

The first six days of the season have not taught us a whole lot in terms of trends. But let’s grab what we can in the hopes of giving our readers an edge.

The futures market can be excruciating because of the amount of time it takes to await a payoff, but again, those payoffs can be massive, and we come from the Irish Sweepstakes/MegaMillions School of Wagering.

Aside from Curry, the players who are showing the most improvement (along with their current Most Improved Player odds) are Morant (+700), whose scoring average is up from 19.1 to 35.0, Miami’s Tyler Herro (+1600), whose average is up from 15.1 to 23.3, Paul George of the Clippers, whose average is up from 23.3 to 28.7, and Miles Bridges (+2000) of Charlotte, whose scoring has risen from 12.7 to 25.0.

For those gamblers who do not want their money tied up through an entire season, we are going to recommend parlaying a number of player props (this nearly worked for the author Sunday, who went 5-for-6 on a parlay but came up short when Christian Wood of Houston could not get a second assist to go over 1.5. The other picks: under 1.5 3-pointers for Blake Griffin, Mo Bamba and Luguentz Dort, over 5.5 assists for Steph Curry, along with Memphis +5, all hit. Now the trick to doing that right on Tuesday night will be looking at the individual player props after they are posted, which usually happens early in the morning East Coast time. And remember, the under is the only wager out there that is actually winning when the game starts. Sharp bettors love unders, OK? And the over/under on a couple of enticing NY-Philly wagers include Julius Randle’s blocks (+170) and steals (-160) at 0.5 (he had four blocks Sunday and has had two steals in each of the last two games). 

The trick here is to let the TNT talking heads and the sports columnists and the pundits say all they want, good or bad, about Simmons. What you want to look at is the over/under on Curry’s 3s along with the injury reports for both teams because centers Joel Embiid, Andre Drummond and Nerlens Noel are all iffy, which could make it easy to hit the over on rebounds by Randle (-105), who grabbed 16 and 10 in his previous two games but has his over/under at 8.5.

In the late game, it should not go unmentioned that Utah’s Joe Ingles, one of the NBA’s best bench players last season, is averaging only 7.0 points per game, down 5.1 from last season. On the flip side, Rudy Gobert is leading the NBA in rebounding with 20.5 per game but will have his toughest matchup yet in facing reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, who held Gobert to single-digit rebounding totals in two of their three meetings last season. The Jazz are favored by 7.


Julius Randle over 0.5 blocks v Philadelphia +170

Julius Randle over 0.5 steals v Philadelphia -160