Sixers vs. Cavaliers: Betting preview, predictions & how to watch

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Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (9) drives past Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, left, and forward Isaac Okoro (35) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The Philadelphia 76ers are at home, hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers, as both teams are on the wrong side of back-to-back games, with Cleveland having to travel to Philly after hosting the Magic on Thursday night.

The Sixers are coming off an awful loss to the Knicks in a game that they should have been able to win, with the Knicks missing Julius Randle and OG Anunoby. The Cavs will be looking for revenge after losing to the Sixers just before the All-Star break and should be healthy.

Latest on the Sixers

Philadelphia 76ers’ Kyle Lowry (7) goes up for a shot against New York Knicks’ Precious Achiuwa (5) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Sixers are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Knicks, who were missing two of their best players. The real problem for the Sixers is that Tobias Harris can’t seem to get himself right and be there when the team needs him most.

On February 1st, he had 28 points and shot 13-21 from the field against the Jazz, but since then, he’s gone over 20 points just one time and has been shooting 43.8% from the floor. If you count that game, where he was 0-5 on his three-point attempts, Harris is shooting 25% on the month, going 4-16 from deep. For a player who’s supposed to help the Sixers weather the storm of missing Embiid for a long stretch, he’s doing nothing to help the team.

The Sixers head coach, Nick Nurse, needs to figure out the best lineups for the team and he needs to start it tonight. The Sixers had nine points combined from Harris, Paul Reed, and Nico Batum against the Knicks, and that’s not winning basketball games, even if they were playing the Wizards or Pistons. The team, without Embiid, needs to find an identity and some consistency before it’s too late.

Tyrese Maxey and Buddy Hield were good, with Maxey scoring 35 points and Hield adding 14 points, but neither had a very good shooting night. It was the first game that Hield struggled with his shot, but that won’t phase him in any way. The two can be counted on to put the Sixers in a good position to win games if their teammates can add anything.

Philly fans welcomed home Kyle Lowry, who played in his first games since being signed by the team. In Lowry’s return to his hometown, he scored 11 points, which may not seem like a big deal, but he was injured in the first half, taking an elbow to the head, and still returned, shooting 5-7 from the field and getting four rebounds and five assists in just 25 minutes. If Lowry can add that sort of stat line as the season winds down, he’ll be a huge asset for the Sixers.

Latest on the Cavaliers

Sixers 76ers
Cleveland Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen (31) grabs a pass in front of Philadelphia 76ers guards Ricky Council IV, left, and Cameron Payne (22) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The Cavaliers have won 10 of their last 12 games and have looked every bit of a complete team as the season hit the All-Star break. The only question now is whether the Cavs are the team that won nine games in a row or the one that’s lost two of their last three games, including to the Sixers to end the winnings streak as well as to the Magic on Thursday night, in Cleveland.

What the Cavs can take solace in knowing is that Donovan Mitchell, who’s battling an illness, missed last night’s game and should be returning tonight against the Sixers. Mitchell is 4th in the league in scoring at 28.4 points per game and also adding 5.4 rebounds and 6.3 assists to go along with 1.9 steals. Mitchell is having arguably the finest season of his career, as he’s averaging career highs in the Big Four statistical areas. With Mitchell on the floor, the Cavaliers are a deadly team.

In addition to Mitchell, the Cavs are getting consistent play and production from Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland, and Isaac Okoro. The four, along with guard Max Strus, all had more than 14 points in the loss to the Magic and provided the Cavs with depth, scoring, and defense that has allowed them to climb to second place in the Eastern Conference.

What to watch for tonight

Philadelphia 76ers guard De’Anthony Melton (8) goes to the basket as Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (14) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 25, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

It would be easy to say that the excitement of having Lowry on the court again, in front of his hometown fans, is a huge plus for anyone who likes the Sixers. Tyrese Maxey and Buddy Hield leading the offense and providing nightly excitement and highlights is another good reason. Terquavion Smith, Ricky Council IV, and KJ Martin all getting some quality minutes and giving fans a glimpse at some future, maybe, stars for the team is great as well.

What you’ll watch for is to see if the Sixers head coach can come up with a lineup that’s going to be able to compete with some of the top teams in the conference that the Sixers will be facing over the next week. Are they able to put together steady minutes for players who are going to contribute on a nightly basis? Can the Sixers survive the next few weeks, with a very tough schedule, to keep themselves in the playoff picture as they await word on whether Joel Embiid will be able to return to the lineup either at the end of the season or to start the playoffs?

The Sixers, as they’re constructed, have some good players who aren’t able to compete with the top teams in the league or conference without their one true superstar. That’s not to say that Tyrese Maxey isn’t a star player in the league. It’s not taking anything away from Buddy Hield, his scoring and shooting abilities.

It’s not taking away from the depth that players like Kelly Oubre Jr., Cam Payne, and Kyle Lowry can provide for the team. Those things are all very good to have, surrounding someone of Embiid’s ability and stature. Without him, they’re a lottery team, and that’s going to hurt if they can’t squeeze out several victories in his absence.

Oh yeah, DeAnthony Melton should be back tonight as well.


Sixers 115 – Cavs 131