Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers Preview
The last night of 2019 is going to feature a fun matchup between two Eastern Conference teams trying to improve in the conference standings.
The Philadelphia 76ers sit in the fifth spot in the East with a record of 23-12 and riding a two-game losing streak. The Pacers–still without Victor Oladipo–are only two games from the Sixers in the sixth spot. The Pacers are also in the midst of a disappointing two-game slide.
Something will give before the calendar turns to a new decade. Who’s going to start it off the right way?
Time: 3 PM ET
Arena: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
Channel: NBCSP, FSIND
Sixers: Matisse Thybulle (O)
Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon (Q), Victor Oladipo (O), Edmond Sumner (Q)
Philadelphia 76ers Starting Lineup
The Sixers were last in action on Saturday as part of a 14-game Saturday slate for the NBA. Philly faced off against rival team, the Miami Heat, and lost 117-116 in an overtime thriller; the loss caused the Sixers to slide to the fifth seed in the East after some time sitting in the top three.
Team superstar, Joel Embiid, had a dominant performance. He scored a game-high 35 points on 11-for-16 shooting from the field and 11-for-12 from the free-throw line. Embiid also added 11 boards for good measure. His running mate, Ben Simmons posted a very Simmons-esque line, scoring 15 points, snagging seven rebounds, dishing 11 assists, and recording three takeaways in the contest.
Philly led by five on two separate occasions with less than two minutes left in the game but could not finish the job. (The Heat are too resilient of a team to give even a sliver of hope.) With 12 seconds remaining in regulation Jimmy Butler poked the ball free from Embiid at midcourt. The ball found rookie Tyler Herro who splashed home a 3-pointer with 6.9 seconds on the clock and put Miami up by one. Some free-throw drama ensued–Ben Simmons grabbed an intentionally missed free throw and scored–to send the game to overtime.
Overtime was not friendly to the Sixers: Butler was fouled by Al Horford on the Heat’s final possession–who hit the two free throws that would subsequently end the game–and Tobias Harris missed a game-winning attempt.
The Sixers will have a chance to start turning their road record around–they are 4-10 in their last 14 road games.
Indiana Pacers Starting Lineup
The Pacers dropped their last game against the New Orleans Pelicans 120-98 on Saturday night. The game was the second of a back-to-back (they played the frisky Heat the night before) and coach Nate McMillan’s team has now dropped three of their last four games after a strong start to the season.
Peering into the team box score was frightening: the Pacers were down by as many as 26 points; they shot 38.8 percent from the field and a sickening 21.4 percent from the 3-point line. Tough.
The Pacers were led in scoring by second-year guard Aaron Holiday, who scored 25 points on 7-for-14 shooting from the field. T.J. Warren chipped in 20 points on 6-for-12 shooting and Domantas Sabonis posted a double-double (15 points and 16 rebounds).
The Pacers have tried to keep their ship afloat as they eagerly await the return of their franchise player, Victor Oladipo. Their offseason signing, Malcolm Brogdon, has done an admirable job of stepping in and assuming the responsibility of the offense, but he’s also been in and out of the lineup with various injuries.
The Pacers lack the firepower of the five Eastern Conference teams ahead of them in the standings, but they’re set to become a much different team when they get Oladipo back. I’m excited to see what a Brogdon/Oladipo backcourt looks like.
Key Player Matchups
Myles Turner vs. Joel Embiid
Embiid got bullied into being dominant again. The crew on “Inside the NBA”–primarily Shaq and Chuck–went at Embiid and called out his effort and consistency. Well, Embiid heard them loud and clear. In his last 10 games, Embiid is posting 27.0 points, 12.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists on 50.6 percent shooting. The scoring is what draws my attention, especially when I watch the games. Embiid is playing…I guess you could say, angry? But the good kind of angry. He’s channeling his frustrations with himself and his performance during the early parts of the season into strong defensive possessions and dominant scoring in the paint. I pray for Myles Turner because he is a nice, quality big–who shoots 3s and blocks shots–but his slender build is going to give way to the most dominant center in the league tonight.
Malcolm Brogdon vs. Ben Simmons
Brogdon is questionable for tonight’s matchup against the Sixers but if he’s fit to play I’m excited to see this matchup. Simmons is not only a great defender–he’s one of the league’s five best defenders across all positions. We spend enough time talking about what Simmons can’t do on offense. (And trust me I know it’s a pretty big deal.) But let’s just enjoy his elite defensive chops. Brogdon is one of the headier guards in the league, always probing and watching the play around him while keeping his dribble alive. However, he won’t have too much time to think if Simmons is going to be hounding him all night.
The Sixers All-Star duo of Embiid and Simmons are always a safe bet for top-level fantasy production. Embiid is projected for 44 fantasy points tonight while Simmons is projected for 38.5, according to FanDuel.
The Pacers have their own combo of fantasy studs: Sabonis and Brogdon. Both guys will consistently provide upwards of 30 fantasy points on any given night. For tonight’s matchup, Sabonis is projected for 35 fantasy points and Brogdon is projected for 30.9, according to FanDuel.
Bet on Matchup
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