Sixers vs. Spurs: How to watch, betting preview, and predictions

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Embiid
Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid goes up for a shot during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Friday, Jan. 5, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

After surviving the Hornets in Charlotte, the Philadelphia 76ers are returning home tonight to take on the San Antonio Spurs as they look to extend their five-game winning streak. The Sixers will play this one game at home before heading off on a five-game road trip. Meanwhile, the Spurs come to town having beaten the Wizards 131-127 in Washington on Saturday night.

Sixers
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Sixers game info

Who: San Antonio Spurs (8-34) at Philadelphia 76ers (28-13)

When: 7:00 pm EST

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia PA

Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBA League Pass, Bally Sports Southwest

Latest on the Sixers

The Sixers are returning home from a weekend road trip that saw them take down the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets. While the Magic game was out of control quickly, the Hornets game was a tough night for the team as they battled poor shooting which allowed the Hornets to stick around until the end.

Sixers
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid celebrates after their win against the Charlotte Hornets in an NBA basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Reigning MVP Joel Embiid is just dominating the league this season for the Sixers. After last year’s career-best season, which resulted in finally being named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, it seemed like Embiid had reached the top of his craft and was considered to be one of the top players in the league.

This season, Embiid has taken his game to an entirely different level. He’s leading the league in scoring, and his overall stat line is the best of his career. He’s currently averaging 35.0 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game, to go along with 1.9 blocks. He’s been more dominant than ever through the first half of the season.

Embiid has a new partner in crime this year, and while guard Tyrese Maxey isn’t “new,” it’s the first season that Maxey has been given a huge role, and he’s exploded this year. Maxey is currently averaging 25.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game while giving Embiid a true, dependable star to go alongside him. Maxey has been better than anyone could have imagined, short of John Calipari, and he’s proving that he’s a star in the league.

Latest on the Spurs

The Spurs are at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, coming into the game against the Sixers. They’re a young and talented team, and they’re led by the first overall pick in last year’s draft, Victor Wembanyama. The rookie, who just recently only turned 20 years old, has shown throughout the early parts of the season, why he was the first pick in the draft.

Sixers
Washington Wizards guard Bilal Coulibaly, left, shakes hands with an Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama, right, both of France, after an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Wembanyama is averaging 19.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game in his first season while also leading the entire NBA in blocked shots at 3.1 per game. He’s been everything that the Spurs and the NBA had thought when he was drafted. While he’s not going to get the Spurs to the playoffs this season, his talent and the talent around him have to have Spurs fans excited for the future.

In addition to Wembanyama, the Spurs have players like Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, Jeremy Sochan, Tre Jones, and Malaki Branham, who offer the Spurs a bright future for the team. Vassell is currently second on the team in scoring at 17.8 points per game, and Keldon Johnson is right behind him with 17.2 points per game.

San Antonio is one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league, and facing a defense like the Sixers will make it even harder to get off quality shots, so the team will rely on a lot of interior scoring and Wembanyama using his height and athleticism to get after the Sixers frontcourt defenders. Even with players like Doug McDermott on the team, who’s shooting 45.5% on his three-point attempts, he’s still only playing 15 minutes per game and making way for the development of the younger players.

What to watch for tonight

As the Sixers return home, they’re welcoming the NBA’s next big, literally, star in Wembanyama. He’s been everything that was advertised prior to last year’s NBA draft and is showing the Spurs, their fans, and the NBA that he’s going to be a huge star in the league.

What Wembanyama hasn’t done is run into a player like the Sixers’ biggest star, Joel Embiid. while Wembanyama towers over the NBA at 7’4″ tall, he’s still only 210 lbs. and matching that up against Embiid, who’s listed at 7’0″ and 280 lbs. is going to be a problem.

Sixers
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid shoots over Charlotte Hornets center Nathan Mensah during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

The reason that Embiid is leading the league in scoring this season is that he’s unstoppable underneath the basket, and teams are forced to put big bodies on him in the low post, yet he’s so good from mid-range that those players can’t keep up with him. Embiid is so dominant on the offensive side of the ball that Wembanyama will be getting a masterclass tonight on what he should be looking to do moving forward with his own career. On the defensive side, Embiid is just as good. It’s going to be a rough night for the Spurs rookie.

Sixers
San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama, right, goes up to try to block the shot of Portland Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant, front left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Dec. 28, 2023. AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

In addition to the Embiid and Wembanyama matchup, the Sixers will be up to their usual against a team that just can’t compete with them. While the Sixers didn’t necessarily “play down” to the Hornets, they only shot 20% on their three-point attempts and looked out of sync for most of the game. That should change tonight against the Spurs. Getting back into a rhythm is needed for the team as they gear up to play teams like the Nuggets, Pacers, Jazz, and Warriors over the next few weeks. They’ll need to use these games against lesser opponents to get everyone in tune and operating on the same page.

Either way that the night unfolds, this game will be a treat for fans to get to see a player, Embiid, who’s having arguably one of the most dominant offensive seasons in NBA history while also getting a look at the player, Wembanyama, that could be the most dominant players in the league for the next 15 years.

Prediction

Sixers 133 – Spurs 118