The Philadelphia 76ers (41-26) look to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers (39-29) Wednesday night on the road in Cleveland. After a disappointing loss Monday to Joel Embiid’s western counterpart in Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets, the Sixers are looking to clinch the series against the Cavs with a win tonight.
Joel Embiid: Questionable (Back)
Jarrett Allen: Out (Finger)
Rajon Rondo: Out (Ankle)
Dean Wade: Out (Knee)
Collin Sexton: Out (Knee)
This matchup against the Cavs will be looking different this time around as their best defense against Joel Embiid will be sidelined with a fractured finger. While Jarrett Allen never posed as a threat to Embiid and his dominating playing style, the Cavs still have big men in their arsenal that can give the 76ers issues, especially when Embiid is off the court and Jordan takes his place. With Allen out, Evan Mobley has stepped up in his place. Normally manning the 4, the 7’0 rookie out of USC has averaged 22 points since moving to the center position while Jarrett Allen has been sidelined. It will be interesting to see how this young big man puts up a fight against Embiid.
With the Cavs being without their star center, the Philadelphia 76ers can focus their attention on guarding Darius Garland, who has taken his game to the next level this season, earning himself a spot in this year’s All-Star Game. Garland has been on a tear as of late, putting up 41 points last week in the Cavs win over the Indiana Pacers and shooting close to 38% from beyond.
Happy Birthday Joel Embiid
March 16th marks Joel Hans Embiid’s birthday and what better way to celebrate turning 28 with a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite the loss against the Nuggets, Embiid still put up 34 and 9 with 2 gigantic blocks. With Embiid’s upsetting injury last season that resulted in the Joker getting the best of him in the MVP race, Embiid is proving to everyone this season that this is his year. Leading the league in total points this season, averaging close to 30 PPG and improving his three-point shot to 36%, Embiid has solidified himself at the top of the MVP race this season.
As of this moment, Embiid is listened as questionable and he may very well miss tonight’s game. If he does play though, expect him to be more than motivated to re-establish his dominance.
The 76ers’ Transitions
The Philadelphia 76ers have big fish to fry looking at their transitions. Even Kevin Durant commented after the blowout loss to the Nets that the Sixers are just a downright bad transition team. . Giving up almost 30 fastbreak points to the Nuggets Monday night, if the Sixers are looking to make a championship run, patching up their transition to defense is crucial. For a team that has been known for their defense in the last few seasons, it is upsetting to see what little effort they put into getting back on defense. With major defensive pieces in Embiid and Matisse Thybulle, Doc Rivers needs to put a plan in motion to get his guys going on defense, as teams have started to notice this big hole in their playing style and are openly taking advantage of it.
The 76ers have opened as 4.5 favorites over the Cavaliers but have since fallen to -2.5 while the money line sits at -135. Tip-off is at 7 pm in Cleveland.
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