76ers Return Home to Face Red-Hot Mavericks

NBA: FEB 06 76ers at Bulls
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 Philadelphia 76ers are returning home, Friday night, against the red-hot Dallas Mavericks, starting a three-game homestand. The Sixers are coming back home where they’ve lost their last two games, getting blown out by the Brooklyn Nets then losing to the Denver Nuggets. The Mavericks are coming into the game on fire, having won three in a row on the road, including a dramatic 113-111 win over the Nets.

Keys to Victory

It all starts with Joel Embiid. The center is listed as questionable with back soreness, having sustained a big fall against the Nuggets. If Embiid is good to go, and it’s looking like he will, then the Sixers will rely on their All-Star center to control the Mavericks from punishing the 76ers

down low. A big need for the 76ers is that their team step up defensively tonight, as they look to contain Luka Dončić, who’s averaging 28.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 8.6 assists on the season. Matisse Thybulle should be getting the start as he’s their best defender on someone of Dončić’s stature.

The 76ers’ defense has been falling, and of late, it’s been downright dreadful. They’re currently 17th in the league in defensive rating at 115.5, and it hasn’t been getting any better.

James Harden is going to need to get out of the shooting slump that he’s been mired in the last few games, as well as guard Tyrese Maxey having to step up against the Mavericks. Where the Sixers really need to improve is their bench shooting and scoring. While forward, Georges Niang has been making the most of his minutes of late; players like Furkan Korkmaz, Danny Green, and Shake Milton have been playing nowhere near their abilities. The Sixers will need a complete team effort on both sides of the floor in order to stop the Mavericks.

Dallas is Hot

The Mavericks are coming into Philly, having won three in a row on the road after a huge win over the Nets on Wednesday night. As has been the case over the past couple of years, the team goes as superstar guard Luka Dončić goes. This season he’s averaging close to another triple-double and is currently fourth in the league in scoring at 28.2 points per game. Dončić has been nothing short of amazing this year, and he’s going to need to be even more so tonight against a 76ers team that’s had a rough week and will be looking to start back on their winning ways.

Reggie Bullock and Tim Hardaway Jr. are both out with injuries, so the Mavericks are going to have to rely on Dorian Finney-Smith and Jalen Bruson to provide Dončić with some assistance. Spencer Dinwiddle will try to build off the magic of hitting a game-winner against the Nets, but he’s one of only two players averaging double figures for the Mavericks, besides Dončić.

The big “if” for the Mavericks is what they do against the Sixers “if” All-Star Center Joel Embiid is playing. Embiid is averaging 29.9 points per game this season which is good for first in the league. For the Mavericks, Dwight Powell and Davis Bertans are not going to cut it in the low post against Embiid.

The Mavericks are coming in confident and looking to keep their winning streak on the road, going to four games. The Sixers need to reestablish themselves as the team that looked so dominant immediately after acquiring James Harden. The 76ers should be on the winning side tonight with the help of the home crowd and a determined roster, looking to get things straight.

Final Score Prediction: Dallas Mavericks – 114 | Philadelphia 76ers – 119

Spread: -3

Total: 217.5

Money Line: -150

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