76ers Face Suns in Battle of the Top Seeds

NBA: FEB 06 76ers at Bulls
CHICAGO, IL – FEBRUARY 06: Philadelphia 76ers Center Joel Embiid (21) waits for the play to set 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 will face-off against the red-hot Phoenix Suns in the final game of their three-game road trip today at 6:00 PM. The top teams in their respective conferences will battle it out in a thrilling matchup that is a potential preview of the NBA Finals.

Injury Report

Philadelphia 76ers

It’s odd, but the Philadelphia 76ers are heading into tonight’s game with a clean bill of health. Joel Embiid and James Harden will play tonight, and the bench is a full go as well, which bodes well for Philadelphia.

Phoenix Suns

  • JaVale McGee – Out (illness)
  • Cameron Johnson – Out (quad)
  • Frank Kaminsky – Out (knee)
  • Dario Saric – Out (ACL)

The Suns are missing some key depth at the forward/center position. That’s been a reoccurring theme for Phoenix, but they have been able to overcome that in large part thanks to Bismack Biyombo‘s career rising — for lack of a better term — like a Phoenix.

What to Watch

Tonight’s game with be a star-studded affair, but there are two specific matchups to follow tonight:

Joel Embiid vs. DeAndre Ayton

Joel Embiid is a five-time All-Star and seemingly now a perennial MVP candidate, so it’s not surprising when he plays at a high level. With that being said, he turns it up to eleven when he plays against the Suns DeAndre Ayton.

In five career games against Ayton, Embiid boasts career averages of 36.4 points, 14.4 rebounds. Embiid has a history of enjoying competition against the NBA’s top centers, but it seems to be something more against Ayton. Not anything personal against Ayton, no, but quite the opposite.

Embiid has been vocal about his opinion of Ayton, and as it turns out, he’s a believer in Ayton. That’s part of the reason he talks so much trash and is so motivated against the Suns’ big man, because to Embiid, it’s a sign of respect. This approach to showing respect is something we’ve seen a few times between Embiid and Kevin Durant, who have always butted heads but also always felt nothing but the utmost respect for the other.

While the wins haven’t always come with the impressive performance, things may go a bit differently tonight as the Sixers have finally acquired a legitimate co-star — none other than James Harden, of course — for their franchise player.

James Harden vs. Chris Paul

Speaking of Harden, the other matchup to watch is between former teammates James Harden and Suns’ star Chris Paul. Not only will this game be a battle of two of the top teams in the NBA but two of the top point guards in the league as well.

Harden has performed well — albeit inconsistent — against CP3 in recent history, but the Sixers will need him in peak form if they hope to win tonight. Without a doubt, the Phoenix Suns are the top team in the league at this moment; anything less than a top-tier performance from Harden will result in a likely loss for Philadelphia.

As difficult of an ask as it is, a win is nearly a necessity for the Philadelphia 76ers as they push to clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

76ers/Suns Betting Lines

Per Draft Kings, the Phoenix Suns are the favorites to win tonight’s matchup.

  • Spread: Suns -4
  • 76ers Moneyline: +150
  • Suns Moneyline: -170
  • O/U: 226.5
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