The Sixers are looking to close out their road trip in a matchup against the Cavs in what may end up to be the team’s last game without Embiid
This is an important game for the Sixers as they will look to solidify their success on the recent road trip and pick up a necessary win. While on paper it should not be a tough matchup, the Sixers have struggled with the Cavs this season and need a much stronger showing than their lackluster effort in their previous game.
Importance to Roadtrip for Sixers
This game will be the last of six straight on the road for the Sixers. After notching a win over the Knicks, the Sixers traveled out to the west coast and picked up victories over the injury-ridden Warriors and Lakers. The road trip took a turn as the Sixers have then dropped the last two in disappointing efforts against the Clippers and Nuggets.
Doc Rivers spoke on the importance of this game following the Nuggets matchup. As Rivers put it, “We got one more game. We win that, and we’ve had a very successful trip.” Doc continued to emphasize the importance of this Cavs game in ending the road trip on a high note throughout his presser.
While it seemingly should be no problem for the 32-15 76ers to knock off the 17-30 Cavs, this has not proven to be the case this season. In the first game without Joel Embiid this season, the Cavs cruised past the Sixers by a score of 118-94. More recently, the Sixers lost to the Cavs once again on February 27th by a score of 112-109 despite a 42 point performance from Joel Embiid.
The Cavaliers have struggled this season as they sit at 13th in the East. They rank last in the league in points per game on the season with just 102.9 points per game and have scored only 99 points per game in their previous ten games.
The youthful Cavs squad is led by an exciting young core of Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, and Isaac Okoro. They will be without the 17.5 points per game the team relied on from Andre Drummond as he agreed to a buyout with the Cavs and recently joined the Lakers.
It is unclear exactly who will be active for the Cavs as Mathew Dellavedova, Jarrett Allen and Kevin Love are all nursing injuries and may not be available. Dylan Windler is set to return to the lineup while Larry Nance Jr. is questionable due to non-covid illness.
The Sixers are simply a better team than the Cavaliers and they need to show that in this matchup. The team will continue to be without Joel Embiid, but positive reports recently surfaced regarding his potential return. Joel has progressed through his rehab and is now targeting Saturday’s game against the Timberwolves as his return date.
It also appears unlikely that George Hill’s debut will be tonight as he continues to recover from a thumb injury that occurred in his time with the Thunder. Daryl Morey recently indicated that he wanted to make sure Hill would be “at full tilt,” come playoff time, so the Sixers have been in no rush to get Hill out there.
That being said, the veteran point guard has also progressed through his rehab and should see the court at some point this week. The Sixers will also be without Mason Jones and Iggy Brazdeikis.
The Sixers made a change to the starting lineup in the previous Nuggets matchup by sending Mike Scott to the bench and giving Dwight Howard to start. While it obviously did not result in victory for the team, Dwight looked good in his start (and didn’t get ejected!) and should be expected to take the floor again in this matchup.
Dwight will likely be tasked with matching up with the Cavaliers’ new center, Isaiah Hartenstein. In his first game with the team, the 7-footer snatched 14 rebounds and also dazzled with his passing ability by picking up 7 assists. While he has only played in 82 total NBA games, the 22-year-old has a unique skill set and has been given a chance to earn a spot in the Cavaliers’ future plans.
The message of ending the road trip on a high note was also echoed by Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons following the Nuggets loss, so it appears the team is taking this game seriously. In what may end up being the final game without Joel Embiid, the Sixers will look to prove how good of a team they are even without their superstar.
The Sixers are listed as 10 point favorites over the Cavaliers going into this matchup. Expect for them to take care of business and attempt to make up for the disappointing losses the Cavs have handed the Sixers so far this season.
If they are to pick up a win tonight, the Sixers will have gone 7-4 in the absence of Joel Embiid and 4-2 on the road trip which should both be looked at as major successes.