The Philadelphia 76ers are at home tonight to take on the NBA’s top team, the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Sixers are coming off an unexpected loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday night, 108-104, while the Wolves are coming into town having just beat the Miami Heat, 112-108.
Sixers vs Wolves game info
Who: Minnesota Timberwolves (20-5) at Philadelphia 76ers (18-8)
When: 7:00 pm EST
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBA League Pass, Bally Sports North
Sixers vs Timberwolves betting info
Spread: Sixers -3.5 | Timberwolves +3.5
Moneyline: Sixers -162 | Timberwolves +126
Total: Over/under 226
What you need to know about the Sixers
The Sixers were riding a six-game winning streak when they went up against the Bulls on Monday night and ultimately lost, 108-104. It was a surprising loss and not something that Sixers fans nor the team expected when facing the twelfth-ranked team in the conference.
The duo of center Joel Embiid and guard Tyrese Maxey continues to be one of the top combinations in the league and Monday was no exception as the two combined for 69 points, 19 rebounds, and 14 assists. They’ve operating on a whole different level this season and have served notice that they’re not to be taken lightly. Maxey has answered any questions and silenced any doubters throughout the season as it’s been the best of his young career so far.
What the Sixers need is to have their role players and bench players operating well as the the team is as deep as it’s been in years. Tobias Harris, Nico Batum, and DeAnthony Melton combined for 12 points on Monday night. That can’t happen, ever.
Harris should be playing better as there’s no pressure on him. Taking three shots in a game is unacceptable for the starting forward.
Batum, while not a scorer like Harris, has been helping out with quality shooting, good passing and defense, yet still only finished with three points as well on Monday.
Melton, the last of the three starters, has fallen on hard times. He had a stretch of games in November where it seemed that he couldn’t miss and now he’s having trouble getting close. In his last three games, Melton has shot just 35.3% from the floor and 20% on his three-point attempts.
Kelly Oubre, coming off the bench and getting back into game shape after an early season injury, needs to give the team starters minutes and points when coming off the bench. He’s been one of the most valuable players on the team, when healthy, but shot 2-10 from the field against the Bulls. In addition, Pat Beverley, Robert Covington, Daniel House, and Paul Reed can’t all have bad games at the same time. They should be able to get right against a really good Wolves team.
What you need to know about the Wolves
The Wolves come into Philadelphia with the league’s best record and when you look at their roster, there’s not a question as to why they’re the tops in the league. Led by guard Anthony Edwards, they boast a roster of Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, Mike Conley, Jaden McDaniels, and Naz Reid.
Edwards, at 6’4″ and 225 lbs. is as explosive a player that you’ll see in the league. He’s leading the Wolves with 24.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game. As Edwards goes, so do the Wolves. Behind Edwards is Karl-Anthony Towns, who was the star in Minnesota and now seems like a third wheel since Gobert’s arrival. Towns is still putting up 22.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Edwards and Towns make for as strong a duo as there is in the league and are just behind the Sixers combo of Maxey and Embiid.
Rudy Gobert is trying his hardest to average more rebounds than he does points, something he last did during the 2015-16 season in Utah. He’s currently averaging 12.6 points and 12.2 rebounds to go a long with 2.4 blocked shots per game. It’s easy to see how and why Gobert has won three Defensive Player of the Year awards.
After their big three players, you still have to deal with Conley, McDaniels, and Reid and that’s before the Wolves start using their bench. They’re getting quality minutes from players like Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Kyle Anderson, Troy Brown Jr., and Philly favorite, Shake Milton. The team boasts a deep bench, length and athleticism that not many teams can rival.
What to watch for tonight
The Wolves are the best in the league and the trio of Edwards, Towns, and Gobert is a tough trio to break. What the Sixers have in their favor is a guy named Joel Embiid. Embiid makes it a habit of crushing both Towns and Gobert whenever they play against each other. Embiid is on some sort of stretch right now as he’s leading the league in scoring at 34.4 points per game, he’s 5th in rebounding at 11.8, and he’s 19th in the league in assists at 6 per game. He’s been doing a lot of that while not playing the fourth quarter of a lot of games. Tonight, for Embiid, it should be another one of those nights as he truly takes pride in shutting down Gobert and Towns.
What the Sixers will need, if there’s a chance to win tonight, is for DeAnthony Melton to try to shut down the explosive Edwards. The Sixers may have to use a rotation of Melton, Beverly, and Oubre to try to slow Edwards down. They’re going to need a complete game from the team and not just depend on Maxey and Embiid to do it all.
If Harris and Melton can get their shooting at least up to a respectable level and the defense can contain Edwards, the Sixers have a very good chance of walking away with a victory. The way the Timberwolves have been playing, that’s going to be a tall task but it’s one that the Sixers should be able to accomplish. The last time the two teams met, the Wolves walked away with a 112-99 victory, which is a close game, but Embiid didn’t play that game. This could be the comeback game for Joel and company.
Sixers 125 – Wolves 123
AP Photo/Matt Slocum