The Sixers are looking for their 23rd win tonight.
Coming off back-to-back wins against the Toronto Raptors and the Dallas Mavericks, the first-place Sixers are looking to continue their momentum against a Cavaliers team that has already given them some trouble earlier in the year. Despite their 12-21 record, and their overall non-worrying roster makeup, Cleveland stole a game against the Embiid-less Sixers way back in late December.
Obviously, with aspirations of the #1 seed in this year’s Eastern Conference playoffs, the Sixers would prefer to not drop any more games to Cleveland this season.
Led by a promising young backcourt consisting of Colin Sexton and Darius Garland, the Cavs are still set to enter tonight’s matchup heavily understaffed. Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr., and Matthew Dellavedova are all expected to be out due to injury, and Taurean Prince is currently listed as “day to day” with an ankle injury.
2x All-Star center Andre Drummond will also be unavailable this evening, as he continues to sit out of action as the Cavs explore possible trade partners for him.
Facing such a shorthanded Cavs team, the Sixers should in all honestly be feeling pretty good about their odds tonight. The only reason Cleveland was able to top Philly earlier this year was due to Drummond dropping 24 points on the likes of Dwight Howard and Tony Bradley. Seeing as Joel Embiid is expected to play tonight and Drummond is not, the roles should (in theory) be flipped.
Embiid hasn’t had the best of shooting performances the last couple of games, so using tonight as a “get right” game against an understaffed Cavs unit would be a pretty ideal outcome.
Ben Simmons on the other had has been pretty sensational the last couple of weeks. He secured his third consecutive All-Star Game appearance on Tuesday, and then turned around with a DPOY-caliber performance against Luka Doncic and the Mavs on Thursday. Seeing how Doc Rivers chooses to match him up against the likes of Sexton and Garland will be a focal point to tonight’s affair.
Tobias Harris will miss the Eastern Conference showdown as he continues to get evaluations done on a knee injury that he suffered against the Mavericks. Initial test results showed that there was no structural damage – which is a good sign. However, holding out the high-scoring forward until after the All-Star break feels like the route Doc Rivers and the Sixers should ultimately go here.
Tip-off is at 7:00 PM ET.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire