The Sixers (4-2) play host Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers (3-3) Monday night. It is the third game on a four-game homestand for the Sixers.
They have won the first two games of the homestand, with its most recent win, a blowout win, against the Atlanta Hawks 122-94. Portland comes to town on a four-game east coast road trip. Monday night’s matchup is the second leg of a back-to-back for the Trail Blazers. Portland lost the first leg of its back-to-back against Charlotte Sunday night.
Monday night’s matchup should be interesting, to say the least. It is the first matchup this season since a long offseason of trade speculation between the two teams, with Ben Simmons, Damian Lillard, and CJ McCollum at the centerpiece of those rumors.
The Sixers will need to slow down Portland’s guard tandem Monday night. Fortunately for them, Lillard has struggled this season for his standards. He is averaging 18.3 points per game while only shooting 34.9 percent from the field and 23.2 percent from three. Lillard is a career 43.8 percent shooter from the field and 37.4 percent from beyond.
Danny Green and Tyrese Maxey will most likely draw the matchup against Lillard early. The Sixers’ best defensive player Matisse Thybulle should see his minutes guarding whoever is the most threatening guard on the floor for the Trail Blazers. Portland’s guards are always threatening on the offensive side of the floor; they are quite the opposite on the other end of the floor.
Maxey and Seth Curry could have big nights against the weaker defensive side. Portlands focus defensively should be to double the All-NBA big man Joel Embiid. Teams so far this season have sent double teams and triple teams at Embiid to get the ball out of his hands.
This should free up Curry from beyond the arc with extra passes from the Sixers. With Damian Lillard, not being a great on-ball defender, the Sixers should run pick-n-rolls with Maxey against him the entire night. Maxey can easily get past any of the Portland bigs after they are drawn out to the top of the key, and Lillard doesn’t have the recovery speed to contest Maxey near the rim.
So far this season, the Sixers are 3-3 covering the spread, but with an extra day of rest, the team has a better chance of covering the -5.0 line Monday night.