Sixers vs Cavs: Game Preview, Betting Info, & More

Tyrese Maxey, 76ers
CHICAGO, IL – FEBRUARY 06: Philadelphia 76ers Guard Tyrese Maxey (0) dribbles the ball past Chicago Bulls Guard Malcolm Hill (14) during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Chicago Bulls on February 6, 2022 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire)

The Sixers are preparing to host the Cavaliers tonight in the City of Brotherly Love. Here is all you need to know.

The Cavaliers are falling

As recently as three weeks ago, the Cavaliers were near the top of the Eastern Conference standings and seemed like the surprise team in the East this year. That’s all been falling apart of late. Although they’re 5-5 over the last ten games, they’ve lost five of their last six. That’s dropped the Cavaliers down to 6th place in the standings. They’re only two games up on the Raptors, but five above the 8th place Nets. It hasn’t been going well.

They lost 119-98 to the Hornets on Wednesday night. It doesn’t seem like it will be getting any easier going into Philadelphia. Guard Darius Garland is not listed on the injury report at all, as he’s been coming back from a back injury. But, the Cavs will be without Caris Levert (sprained foot), and guard Rajon Rondo is doubtful with a foot injury as well.

The Cavaliers will have a hard time stopping Joel Embiid. Garland, while pretty much doing it all for the Cavaliers, won’t be able to shut down the James Harde & Tyrese Maxey backcourt combination all by himself. This doesn’t look like the game where the Cavaliers right the ship.

The Sixers are rolling

The Sixers are coming into this game on a four-game winning streak. They’re 7-3 over the last ten games but they’re undefeated in the three games that they’ve played since James Harden returned from his hamstring injury. The Sixers look to be healthy and hitting on all cylinders since Harden has started playing.

Joel Embiid had a feast at the expense of Mobley and Allen, the last time these two teams met. Embiid finished with 40 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists in the 103-93 victory. While Embiid doesn’t need to put up the monster triple-double this time around, he’ll be eating the Cavaliers up, I’m sure, as he’s done to pretty much everyone in the league this season.

The arrival of James Harden in Philadelphia has given hope to the team that they’ll be in the NBA Finals this year and if the first three games he’s played in are any indication, those hopes may turn into reality. Harden has been every bit as advertised and even more. In the three games he’s played, Harden has averaged 27.3 points, 9 rebounds, and 12.3 assists while shooting 59% from the floor and 50% on three-pointers. Just your average, every day, Harden production, I suppose.

Harden has had an even bigger impact on the teaching he’s done with Embiid and guard Tyrese Maxey. The leadership is on and off the floor. Embiid and Maxey have both shown off their ability to hit the Harden “step-back” jump shot, after being seen working with Harden on it in practice. Maxey has taken his game to another level, completely, with Harden on the floor.

Not having to bring the ball up the court and being the primary ball-handler has allowed Maxey to use his lightning-quick speed to get open whether in the half-court offense or on the fast break. He’s been virtually unstoppable.

Since the arrival of Harden, Maxey has put up 24.7 points per game to go along with 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2 steals per game. Where Maxey has really excelled is his shooting. He’s hitting on 64.3% of his shots. While that number is virtually impossible to keep up, it’s a very good sign that he’s taking better shots. He’s also at the same 64.3% on his three-point attempts, which is ridiculous. Maxey has shown, all season, that he belongs in the league and that he looks like a future star but with Harden, he has been playing on another level.

This game is really going to be a continuation of the Harden/Embiid/Maxey showcase. While the Knicks gave the Sixers some fits, early in the games, the talent the Sixers possess took over later in the games and wore those Knicks teams down. The Cavaliers are heading the wrong way in the standings and they’re running into a Sixers team that’s headed the other way, like a freight train.

Betting lines:

Spread: 76ers -7.5
Total: 217.5
Moneyline: Sixers -320

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