The Philadelphia 76ers continue their five-game road trip with a matchup against one of the NBA’s top duos, Luka Dončić, and Kyrie Irving. Philadelphia is riding high after the Sixers took care of business in last night’s game against the Heat; now they have the difficult task of following that performance up the very next day.
Mavericks vs. Sixers game info
Who: Philadelphia 76ers (40-21) at Dallas Mavericks (32-21)
When: 7:30 PM EST
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
Eye on the Sixers
From the latest injury report, the Sixers will be without All-Star center Joel Embiid. Embiid missed last night’s game against the Heat and has been battling some foot soreness for the past few weeks. With Embiid out, like last night, look for guards James Harden and Tyrese Maxey to step up their games, as Maxey will, again, be in the starting lineup.
Maxey thrives when playing with Harden, and it’s not hard to see why. He’s more relaxed on the floor, and opposing defenses don’t have the ability to key on him like they do when he’s running the bench unit. Starting a lineup of Maxey, Harden, DeAnthony Melton, PJ Tucker, and Tobias Harris should be good enough against the Mavericks.
Tucker only played 19 minutes against the Heat, while coach Doc Rivers had Paul Reed on the floor for 29 minutes, and it paid off. Reed finished the Heat games with 16 points and 14 minutes, which may be a foreshadowing of things to come, as Reed is an energetic player who can do much more on the floor than PJ Tucker can at this point in his career.
The Sixers also had extended minutes for guard Shake Milton, Daniel House Jr., and newcomer Jalen McDaniels, with the three of them combining for 22 points, four rebounds, and five assists. Having a more diverse and well-rounded bench will be the key for the Sixers going forward, and hopefully, the coach recognizes this and doesn’t go back to his starters being pulled for an all-bench lineup, as has been the case a lot over the past month.
Eye on the Mavericks
The Mavericks are coming into this game having lost their last two games to the Lakers and then the Pacers on Tuesday night. NBA scoring leader, Luka Dončić, is having an MVP-type year for the Mavericks as he’s averaging 33.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 8.1 assists, while the Mavericks are currently the 7th seed in the Western Conference.
The Mavericks also have guard Kyrie Irving, picked up at the trade deadline, who’s been playing very well since the acquisition. In his eight games for the Mavericks, Irving is averaging 24.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 6.9 assists to go along with a 49.7% shooting percentage. While his shots are down slightly, Irving has improved all of his shooting percentages and lowered his turnovers for the Mavericks. The combination of Irving and Dončić gives the Mavericks a pick-your-poison type of offense for opposing teams to focus on.
Christian Wood (6’9″ 214 lbs) and Maxi Kleber (6’10” 240 lbs) should also be starting for the Mavericks and giving them some size against a smaller Sixers front court that won’t have Joel Embiid. Wood is averaging 17.5 points and eight rebounds per game. The duo combined for 21 points and six rebounds in the loss to the Pacers. While both should see something similar against the Sixers, they could have some trouble if the Sixers choose to give minutes to Paul Reed and Jalen McDaniels, who both have the length and size to defend those players well.
What to expect
There’s no official word on whether or not Joel Embiid will be listed as out for the game, but if he is, you would think that the Sixers would have a tough time in store, given that the Mavericks do have some frontcourt size and Dončić and Irving in the backcourt. That may not be the case, though, as Tyrese Maxey would likely start after once again proving himself just last night. Against the Heat, Maxey had 27 points, four rebounds, and seven assists, but more importantly, he shot 10-17 from the floor and 4-7 on three-pointers, which is a huge step up for the young guard.
You can’t count out the athleticism that the Sixers can put on the floor if both McDaniels and Reed see minutes with Harden and Maxey, so it will present the Dallas defense with issues. For the Mavericks, the key will be if Dončić and Irving can get going early and provide a big portion of the scoring to keep the Sixers’ defense on their toes. In the end, it shouldn’t matter much, as Embiid can cheer on his team from the sidelines as they march towards the post-season.