The Philadelphia 76ers come into Los Angeles for the second game of their west coast trip. This time, they will be playing against LA’s “other” team. The last time the Sixers played against the Clippers, they blew a 24 points lead and wound up losing by one point, back in January, in Philadelphia. This time, they’ll be looking to knock off both LA teams in the span of a week. Philadelphia defeated the Lakers on Wednesday, 126-121, as the Lakers were missing both Lebron James and Anthony Davis.
The Clippers, currently in eighth place in the Western Conference, are without their two stars as guard Paul George (elbow) recently practiced for the team, and forward Kawhi Leonard (knee) has still not been cleared to participate. In addition to their two big stars, the Clippers may be without forward Robert Covington, who’s listed as questionable with a hand injury.
The Clippers will rely on guard Reggie Jackson, forward Marcus Morris, and shooting guard Luke Kennard to provide some offense against a 76ers team that hasn’t been starting games very well and isn’t exactly playing stellar defense. It won’t be enough.
The 76ers are 4-2 over their last six games, having beaten both the Lakers and Miami Heat in the past two games. Strong starts haven’t been the Sixers’ strong suit of late, but they’ve been battling back with an overwhelming amount of talent in the starting lineup.
All-Star center, Joel Embiid, is second in the league in scoring at 29.8 points per game to go along with his 11.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists. Embiid has continued his MVP level play throughout the season and doesn’t seem to be letting up. James Harden has been averaging 22.5 points, 10.2 assists, and 7 rebounds per game since coming over in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets. Both will be looking to set the tone early and keep the pace moving against the depleted Clippers.
The key to 76ers victory will be its secondary stars, Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris, continuing their high levels of play and the bench actually contributing to the team. Other than Georges Niang, the team’s bench has not played well or provided much for the 76ers. Furkan Korkmaz, Shake Milton, Danny Green, and Matisse Thybulle have all underperformed on the season.
Of late, Thybulle has been shooting 47% on three-pointers and over 91% from the free-throw line, which sounds great. But, Thybulle is still averaging just six points per game. Thybulle is going to need to start taking and making more shots if the Sixers are going to be successful in the playoffs.
Danny Green has lost more than a step as his career starts to wind down and doesn’t seem to be able to be counted on for much of late. Korkmaz was supposed to be the sharpshooter that was on the three-year, team-friendly deal that he signed last summer. For the season, he’s shooting just 29.8% on three-pointers and 39.7% from the field, and that’s nowhere near what the 76ers were expecting from him when they signed him.
The “big” issue of late has been the backup center position. Andre Drummond provided the Sixers with a huge security blanket prior to being traded to the Nets. In his place, Sixers coach Doc Rivers has insisted on playing Paul Millsap and recently signed DeAndre Jordan. Millsap, 37, and Jordan, 33, are nowhere near the players they may have been in the past and provide slightly more than extra fouls and a roster position at this point.
Rivers, as has been his style, refuses to give any type of minutes to Charles Bassey nor Paul Reed. For the reserves, Reed and Bassey would be a much better fit than Jordan and Millsap, with their youth, energy, and talent. Rivers, who is going to need a complete team come playoff time, doesn’t seem to realize that Jordan and Millsap won’t provide that relief.
Hopefully, the 76ers’ coach can be less stubborn than he is known to be and start to give some of the younger guys some minutes. At least see if they can contribute during the playoffs. They can’t be any worse than who he’s been playing. This game won’t see much of any of them unless it’s a blowout, and based on how the Sixers have been starting games, that won’t be the case. Once they get going, it will be easy for them, but you may want to wait until the second quarter to tune in.
76ers Final Score Prediction:
Sixers – 113 | Clippers – 102
Per Draft Kings, Philadelphia is the favorite to win tonight’s matchup.
- Spread: 76ers -5
- 76ers Moneyline: -200
- Lakers Moneyline: +170
- O/U: 218