Sixers vs Rockets: How to watch, betting info & predictions

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Sixers
Miami Heat guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. (11) is fouled by Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey (0) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 25, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The Sixers are in Houston to take on the Rockets as they finish up their calendar year on the road. Having beaten the Magic on Wednesday night, 112-92, the Sixers will be looking to add to their win total against a slumping Rockets team. While the Sixers have won five of their last seven games, the Rockets have only won two, having lost most recently to the Suns, 129-113, on Wednesday night.

Sixers game specifics

Who: Philadelphia 76ers (21-9) at Houston Rockets (15-14)
When: 8:30 pm EST
Where: Toyota Center, Houston TX
Watch: NBC Philadelphia, NBA League Pass, AT&T SportsNet Southwest

76ers vs Rockets betting info

Spread: 76ers -1.5 | Rockets +1.5
Moneyline: 76ers -100 | Rockets +100
Total: Over/Under 224

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Whats going on with the Sixers

The Sixers will be looking to take down the Rockets without their leader, Joel Embiid, who’s listed as out again for the third straight game with a sprained ankle. They’ll also be missing versatile forward Nico Batum who, despite not filling up the stats sheets, has become a valuable player for the Sixers.

The Sixers will be playing with Paul Reed and Kelly Oubre Jr. starting at center and forward in the place of Embiid and Batum. In Wednesday’s win over the Magic, Reed finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds in 32 minutes of play. Oubre has 2 steals and 2 blocks in 29 minutes as he floundered from the floor, shooting just 1-7 from the field and finishing with 4 points on the night. The Sixers definitely need more from Oubre if they’re going to keep winning without Embiid.

Sixers
Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green (4) shoots a layup against Chicago Bulls center Andre Drummond (3) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 26, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Quinn Harris)

What the Sixers did get was more than twenty points from each of Tyrese Maxey, DeAnthony Melton, and Tobias Harris and more than 10 points from Pat Beverly and Marcus Morris. It’s that type of all-around team play that’s really going to help the team if they’re facing any more of an extended absence from Embiid.

What to know about the Rockets

While the Rockets have a young team, they’re currently just 1/2 game behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They’ve been playing well and ran into a rough spot over their past seven games, having lost five of them, including Wednesday night to the Phoenix Suns.

The Rockets are led by Alperen Senguin, their 6’11” 243 lb center, who is averaging 20.9 points and 9.3 rebounds to lead the Rockets in both categories. The size of Senguin could present problems for an undersized Philadelphia front court so Senguin should have himself his usual night.

After Senguin, the Rockets have Jalen Green, Fred VanVleet, Tara Eason, Amen Thompson, and Aaron Holiday to give them some good young talent and depth with some veteran leadership from VanVleet. The Rockets will be missing Jabari Smith Jr. and Dillon Brooks for the game but should still have enough movement to give the Sixers defense some issues.

What to watch for

The Sixers will be looking to take out the Rockets and get themselves a small winning streak as they close the calendar year and open next year with back-to-back games against the Chicago Bulls. Without Embiid and Batum they’ll be relying on Maxey, Melton, and Harris to continue to carry the scoring load while hoping that Oubre Jr. can get back on track with his shooting.

Sixers
Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) shoots a three point basket as Houston Rockets guard Daishen Nix defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 5, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

The Rockets should come out aggressive as the loss to the Suns, coupled with their recent losses has to have them wanting to come out on top of one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. There isn’t much of a chance for the Rockets though, as the Sixers have one of the better, all-around, defensive teams in the league and use their depth to give teams fresh looks on the floor.

Look for the Sixers to take this game and blow out the Rockets, as they’ve done recently to quite a few teams. Even with the team missing Embiid, they have enough of a scoring punch from Maxey that they’re not lacking in any star power, and the trio of Melton, Oubre Jr., and Harris should be able to put up good numbers.

Prediction

Sixers 127 – Rockets 108

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AP Photo/Lynne Sladky