76ers hit the road for primetime matchup with Mavericks
Just as fans were riding high after a dominant month of January, the 76ers decided to give us a reality check to kick off February. After taking down Ja Morant and the Grizzlies without Joel Embiid, they tarnished the perfect homestand with an ugly loss to the Wizards. It was a similar story of not enough offensive help for Embiid and lackadaisical defense against a team that can do damage on the perimeter.
Things aren’t going to get any easier for Philly either, as it is time for them to hit the road once again. The 76ers are set to take on Luka Doncic and the Mavericks on prime-time television Friday at 10 pm EST.
The Mavericks are coming into this matchup as one of the more inconsistent teams in the West. They hold a 29-23 record, good for the fifth spot in the standings. Despite their current fifth seed, the Mavericks have been up-and-down when it comes to their play. They have beaten the likes of the Warriors, Bulls, and Grizzlies twice over the past month, while also dropping back-to-back games against the Magic and Thunder.
Despite and ugly loss Wednesday, the 76ers are still one of the top teams in the East from a standings perspective. Philly currently holds a 31-20 record, good for the third seed. That spot could change with how packed the top six are, so any win before the All-Star break is crucial.
What’s interesting about the Sixers is their 17-9 record on the road. The only team with a better record away from home court is the Suns at 19-5. Phoenix also is yet to hit double-digit losses, so for Philly to be that close is impressive.
Dallas continues to lose the supporting cast around Luka Doncic, with another one dropping for tonight’s contest with Philadelphia. Tim Hardaway Jr underwent surgery on his foot earlier this week and will miss extended time. Combine that with Kristaps Porzingis being ruled out with a knee injury and the starting lineup for the Mavericks continues to thin out. Sterling Brown will also miss this matchup with a foot injury.
The 76ers injury report looks very similar to the last couple games. Shake Milton was unsurprisingly ruled out for the contest in Dallas with that same back injury. Furkan Korkmaz is set to miss his third-straight game with a knee issue. Seth Curry was a late scratch for the Wizards game due to back spasms, and is currently questionable to suit up for the 76ers tonight.
Finally, you’ve got Ben Simmons obviously missing this contest as he is too busy sliding into DMs of NBA legends.
Contain Luka Doncic
With Porzingis and Hardaway Jr going down for the Mavericks, there is one gameplan for the 76ers to get a win down in Dallas, contain Luka Doncic. It is a situation Sixers fans have had to deal with, which makes this matchup somewhat ironic.
In their last two games against the Magic and Thunder, Doncic scored 74 points, grabbed 18 boards, and recorded 22 assists. What Philly needs to do to win is contain some of that playmaking ability, and not allow other players on this Dallas team to beat them.
Someone Else has to Step Up on the Offensive End
What makes this ironic is the way to beat this Mavericks team is exactly how to take down the 76ers. If Philly wants to pick up a big win on the road, it cannot just be Joel Embiid efficiently scoring on the offensive end.
When two of your starters combine for five points, you won’t be able to beat good teams like the Mavericks in their own building. It is no secret Dallas has nobody who can match up remotely well with Embiid, but he will see his fair share of double teams as the game progresses. That means Tobias Harris, who has put together some great games as of late, needs to get out and score early.
Bench Players Continue to Step Up
While the loss to the Wizards was painful, it did show a couple of solid guys off the bench the 76ers can lean on going forward. Andre Drummond continues to be one of if not the best backup center in the league, absolutely swallowing rebounds on the defensive end and playing the pick-and-roll fantastically on offense. Georges Niang has been the other consistent bench piece for this squad, coming into the game and giving Philly much needed spacing with his three-point shooting.
With the Furkan Korkmaz injury, another bench piece has stepped up in his additional minutes. Isaiah Joe has shown nice flashes over the past couple games. Joe has put together back-to-back double-digit scoring games, all while shooting 55-percent from deep. Finding shooting off the bench is all about riding the hot hand, and Joe seems to have found his stroke with the absence of Korkmaz.
Tonight’s odds brought to you by Parx Sportsbook, the official gambling partner of The Liberty Line.
|Philadelphia 76ers||+100||+1.5 (-110)||O 210.5(-112)|
|Dallas Mavericks||-121||-1.5 (-112)||U 210.5(-109)|
While Luka Doncic is a star in this league, the last time he faced the 76ers he was limited by Matisse Thybulle and Philly won by 18. There just isn’t much reasoning in my mind to why the Mavericks are favored. They have a worse record, uglier losses as of late, and don’t have an MVP frontrunner on their team.
The game will be high-scoring but I just don’t see the 76ers dropping back-to-back games for the first time since December 16th tonight.
Mandatory Credit: Tim Nwachukwu.