With a perfect start at home this season, the Sixers have certainly impressed in front of the home crowd. That perfect streak has a chance to move to 10-0 tonight when the Utah Jazz come to town. The Sixers and Jazz have already met this season in a thrilling game that saw the Sixers fall 104-106
It was in this game that Ben Simmons suffered an AC joint sprain only 10 minutes into the game. With Simmons back in the fold, the Sixers will look to take this game and split the season series. While Simmons is back, unfortunately, Josh Richardson is most likely out tonight with a hamstring injury.
Know your enemy
The Jazz are currently sitting at 12-8 which as of today is good enough for the sixth seed in the Western Conference. Led by the tremendous tandem of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, the Jazz have a great dynamic of surrounding their stars with shooters and defense.
The sixth seed in the west is by no means an easy accomplishment and yet, the Jazz are not where they expected to be before the start of the season. They made huge additions in Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic, both are not only terrific players but wonderful fits as well. There aren’t many holes so it’s tough to pinpoint why the team is not currently on track, but one very visible flaw is the team’s lack of depth.
Keys to the game
Get to the stripe
Like I just said, the Jazz are not a very deep team so the hopefully obvious strategy is to get the starters in foul trouble. Work the ball down-low in the post and drive trying to create contact. If you can get one or more of Mitchell, Gobert, or Bogdanovic in foul trouble the game will open up wide.
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are coming off a game where they shot a combined 22-22 from the free-throw line. If they can get a similar performance, even if it’s just the attempts, this will help the Sixers get the victory. Limiting the opponents potential impact while also getting an opportunity for free points is a great formula to give a team the best chance to succeed.
Keep a level head
On the other side of this coin, the Sixers need to make sure they remain calm tonight. The Jazz have a list of instigators who try to get in their opponent’s heads. Mitchell and Gobert have history with Joel Embiid and to a lesser degree Ben Simmons. The Jazz are very aware of the short temper certain Sixers tend to have and will look to exploit it.
The Sixers cannot afford to lose anyone over some stupid fight. Joel Embiid especially needs to avoid confrontation as more often than not he is the key to both the Sixers’ offense and defense. If the Sixers can keep their players in the game they should pull away with the win.
This game will be an absolute must-watch, two defensive teams featuring some of the NBA’s best up-and-coming stars. I expect tonight’s game to be an intensely dramatic rollercoaster.
It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s an ejection or two tonight as both teams will look to disrupt the other psychologically. I do expect the Sixers to continue their home winning streak coming out on top of this defensive battle of a game.
Final score: Jazz 92 – Sixers 97
Tip-off is at 7:00 PM EST with coverage beginning at 6:30. You can watch the game on NBC Sports Philadelphia or also on NBA TV. You can also listen live at 97.5 FM the Fanatic.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports