Sixers-Hornets: Preview, Odds, and Predictions
The Philadelphia 76ers earned their third straight win and sixth straight victory in their last seven games as they beat the Indiana Pacers on the road in dramatic, comeback fashion 119-110. They improved to 15-6 and have a 2.5 game lead over the Brooklyn Nets for first place in the Eastern Conference. The Hornets enter tonight’s game on a three game winning streak of their own after beating the Miami Heat 129-121 in overtime on Monday night.
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have never lost to the Charlotte Hornets and the 76ers as a team have won the last 13 meetings, most recently on January 4th where they won 118-101 at home. At the time, Eastern Conference Player of the Week Tobias Harris scored 22 points to lead the way for the 76ers. Seven 76ers scored in double digits including all five starters. Joel Embiid tallied 14 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks and Ben Simmons added 12 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Both teams enter tonight with a significant amount of momentum, both winning three games. As we await news about the current MVP front-runner Joel Embiid’s status for tonight’s game, here’s what I’m keeping an eye on tonight.
The Bench Mob
During the 76ers comeback win against the Indiana Pacers, the Sixers bench scored a total of 52 points and sparked a late fourth quarter comeback. Defensively, Doc Rivers made a key adjustment in that game and switched to a zone in the 4th quarter with the Sixers down 16 points and Indiana was unable to recover. The zone defense allowed Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle to suffocate the Pacers offense. The duo ended the night with four steals each while Thybulle deflected over 10 passes in the game. The bench contributing is crucial for the 76ers, even more so if Embiid is out again tonight. Doc Rivers spoke with the media yesterday and said that Embiid did practice and looks to be ready to go.
Tonight against the Hornets, the Sixers will face a team that loves to shoot along the perimeter. Last game alone, the team shot 51.2% from three point range led by Devonte Graham (6-11) and Malik Monk (9-13). Gordon Hayward and Lonzo Ball were both 2-4 from three in the game as well. The Sixers perimeter defense needs to contend every three point shot that the Hornets attempt in order to keep this game out of reach. If the Hornet’s guards get hot, they can easily steal a game along the perimeter.
It’s always difficult to look at the odds unless it’s an hour before the game where lineups and injury news on who’s playing and not playing is typically set in stone. But taking a look at where things currently stand, the 76ers are currently -7.5 point favorites.
Player performance doubles are always something to keep an eye on. I’m currently looking at Ben Simmons Triple-Double / Philadelphia to win at +900. Another performance double that’s interesting would be Danny Green to score 15 points / Philadelphia to win at +1300. Green has scored 13 points against the Hornets in both games this season.
The -7.5 line indicates that the books are expecting Joel Embiid to play tonight. With or without Embiid, the Sixers are just too good of a team and should be able to beat the Hornets. The Sixers beating the Pacers last game without Embiid on the road should serve as a huge confidence boost for this team and Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, and the supporting cast should be able to walk out of Buzz City with their fourth straight win.
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