Road Trip Finale: What to Watch 76ers vs Jazz
Following disappointing back to back losses, the Sixers will wrap up their four-game road trip tonight against the Utah Jazz. The Jazz are currently the best team in the Western Conference with a 22-5 record, having won seven straight. The Jazz have run through the rest of the East their last few games, beating the Pacers, Celtics, Bucks, and Heat.
Here are three things to watch tonight:
The bench needs to pick it up:
Shake Milton’s absence once again led to a pathetic effort against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday. The entire Sixers bench was outscored by Dario Saric, who had 15 points to the Sixers 13. Saturday’s loss was the second straight game that just a single-player outscored the 76ers bench.
Jordan Clarkson has been putting together an excellent case for Sixth Man of the Year so far, averaging 17 and a half points on 45% shooting on Utah’s bench. Philly will need Tyrese Maxey to step up after regressing slightly on offense. Over his last five games, Maxey has averaged just five points per game on 36% shooting. Shake Milton will be out again with an ankle sprain. Milton’s injury has drawn significant attention to the fact that the Sixers need major scoring help off the bench soon.
The Unstoppable Force meets The Immovable Object:
Rudy Gobert has often been seen by many to be the NBA’s best defensive center. Gobert is one of the last traditional centers in the league, someone who can defend the paint but isn’t productive on offense outside of the paint. When considering someone who could slow down Joel Embiid in the post-game, Gobert is likely one of few valid options of standing a chance of doing so.
The two-time Defensive Player of the Year is averaging almost 14 points, 14 rebounds, and three blocks through 27 games. Embiid has gone through some of the best defensive big men with zero hesitation. Gobert has given Joel fits down low in previous outings, but Embiid is no longer that same player.
Rookie of the Year rematch:
One of the more fabricated storylines back in 2016 was the race for ROTY between Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell. While Simmons had it locked away, many pushed that Mitchell had a deserving shot at the award. Since then, the argument has been quiet, although both have grown into some of the NBA’s best young guards.
Spida is having a prolific season leading the Jazz, averaging just over 24 points and solidifying himself as a franchise cornerstone for Utah. Meanwhile, Ben Simmons is fresh off his best two-game stretch of the season and looks to continue that play. Ben played fantastic defense against Devin Booker, but Booker could not seem to miss no matter what the situation was. If these two are matched up on each other, it will undoubtedly lead to some exciting basketball.
The Sixers are going to need to step up to stay in this game. The starting five has been doing just fine, but Tyrese Maxey and company need to bounce back on offense without Shake Milton. If Philly can pull that off, they have a strong chance to win, but if they have another game like they did against the Suns, their chances are slim.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports