Philadelphia 76ers at the Cleveland Cavaliers Preview
Thursday evening’s matchup features two squads on opposite ends of the Eastern Conference hierarchy. The 76ers are currently sit at 5th in the east with a record of 36-22. They have gone 2-1 since returning from the All-Star break. They missed Ben Simmons in their last contest against the Hawks and may be without their All-Star point guard on Thursday. Despite Cleveland struggling all year they have actually also gone 2-1 since returning from the midseason break. This winning stretch includes a split back-to-back with the 3rd seeded Heat which saw them steal a huge comeback, overtime win against Miami on Monday.
Time: 7 PM EST
Arena: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Channel: NBC Sports Philadelphia, Fox Sports Cleveland
76ers: Ben Simmons (Questionable), Norvel Pelle (Questionable)
Cavaliers: Dante Exum (Out), Alfonzo McKinnie (Out), Dylan Windler (Out)
Philadelphia 76ers Starting Lineup
Philadelphia was able to roll through the Atlanta Hawks on Monday despite a 3rd quarter I which they were outscored by 18. Philly came out complacent to start the 3rd quarter and blew 17-point halftime. Ultimately, they were able to dominant the 3th in route to a 129-112 victory. Philly was able to win this up-and-down game without their All-Star floor general Ben Simmons.
The 76ers win on was fueled by one of Joel Embiid’s most impressive performances. Embiid scored a career high 49 points to go with 14 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. Embiid’s dominance with Simmons sidelined will continue fuel the idea that their play styles would fit better if they were separated. Embiid and Simmons talked about their enjoyment with playing alongside the other over the All-Star break but until their potential is fully reached people will always jump to conclusions.
If, Philly is once again without Simmons on Thursday they will continue to run the offense through Embiid. This will lead to more post opportunities for Embiid and less of the transition oriented, fast-paced style that Simmons favors. Tobias Harris will also look to pick up the slack following his 25-point outing against Atlanta in what should be a favorably matchup. This is clearly Philly’s game to lose and should be able to score efficiently against a Cleveland defense that has allowed their opponents to shoot 49% from the field. Although they are a clear favorite this could be a trap game for the 76ers. They are 9-20 on the road and cannot underestimate this Cavs team that has looked improved during the small post All-Star break sample size.
Cleveland Cavaliers Starting Lineup
As I mentioned above this Cleveland team has looked better than expect in the 3 games following All-Star weekend. After surprisingly deciding not to sell at the trade deadline and acquiring Andre Drummond, they have gone 3-2 through 5 games. This is despite Drummond actually putting up lesser numbers than he did throughout the season in Detroit.
A reason for Cleveland’s improved play recently has been their improved depth and bench performances. This along with younger player providing more consistency has allowed them to go 3-2 over this 5-game stretch, although they also suffered their biggest loss in franchise history in that stretch as well.
Cleveland got a huge boost off the bench in their win against the Heat. The contributions came from Larry Nance, Tristan Thompson, and Kevin Porter all played 29+ minutes while putting up 15+ points to go with 8+ rebounds. Porter specifically stood up leading Cleveland in scoring with 30 points off the bench which was a career high for the rookie as was his 41 minutes.
Cleveland is looking for development this year and they are starting to see some more promising results as of late. Sexton has made strides all year long, Garland has scored in double digits his last 4 games (shooting 48% from the field and 40%), Osman has given scoring bursts as of late, and Porter is looking to build off of his career high in scoring. It’s not to say that these trends will continue but it is still encouraging for Cleveland. They will need good efforts from these 4 and to utilize their frontcourt depth to beat the 76ers.
Key Player Matchup
Joel Embiid vs Andre Drummond
This is a matchup of two premier centers in the conference and all of the NBA. Despite Drummond’s play lacking a bit since arriving in Cleveland he will still look to give Embiid a tough time with his defense and rebounding. The Cavaliers best chance to steal this win is to slow down Embiid and Drummond is their best chance to do so even if he doesn’t contribute much on the offensive end. That being said it will be an extremely tough task with Embiid playing with so much confidence and most likely having the reigns of the offense.
FanDuel doesn’t have prices up for the game as of the time I am writing this but there is some good plays in this matchup. Embiid has great value if Simmons does sit even at his high price and I expect Tobias Harris to see an uptick in production as well. There is also value with Porter and Garland if you want to ride the hot hand.
Bet on Matchup
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