Preview: 76ers host Mavericks to close out season series
While everyone is busy watching March Madness (and more importantly following Joe Pops’ amazing bets) the 76ers are winding down their regular season. After a big Embiid birthday win on Wednesday in Cleveland the Sixers are back home to close out their season series against the Dallas Mavericks.
The Mavericks come into the matchup with a 43-26 record on the season, good for the fifth seed in the West. Dallas is currently tied with the Utah Jazz for that coveted fourth spot, with tiebreakers preventing them from moving up. With Golden State still three games ahead of the pair at the three seed and the Nuggets falling further behind at the sixth spot, the 4-5 matchup of the Mavs and Jazz is looking more and more likely.
The 76ers enter tonight’s contest with a very similar 42-26 record, slotting them into the third seed in the East. Philly is still hunting that top seed, currently only three games back from the Heat and one back from the Bucks for the second spot. The Sixers don’t have much breathing room of their own, as the red hot Celtics are now in fourth only a game back from Philly. Every game going forward is going to matter for the 76ers with how packed the top of the East is.
- Marquese Chriss (Probable)
- Reggie Bullock (Out)
- Theo Pinson (Out)
- Tim Hardaway Jr (Out)
- Joel Embiid (Questionable)
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76ers Can’t Come Out Slow
The Mavericks are in the midst of their biggest east coast road trip all season with games in Houston, Boston, and Brooklyn. Tonight’s game in Philadelphia will be their fourth road game in the last week, so the Sixers need to come out the gate hot if they want to take advantage.
Luka Doncic is one of the premier superstar talents in the league today, but his off nights seem to completely revolve around how he starts the game. If the 76ers and likely Matisse Thybulle can frustrate him early on, it could dictate his play for the rest of the night. Doncic is too good not to get some buckets, but if the Sixers want to keep him from dropping 37 like he did on the Nets a couple days ago, getting to him early will help immensely.
With Embiid having participated in shootaround this morning despite the same questionable tag on the injury report due to back soreness, it looks like the 76ers will be at full strength tonight. Embiid will unsurprisingly have another favorable matchup against two slower centers in Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber. Let Embiid cook early like he did in Cleveland and the worn down Mavericks could fold early on.
|Dallas Mavericks||+3.5 (-110)||+135||O 216.5 (-110)|
|Philadelphia 76ers||-3.5 (-110)||-160||U 216.5 (-110)|
While I expect Luka Doncic to show why he’s a superstar, this Mavericks team hasn’t faced the 76ers with both Embiid and Harden yet. I like the Sixers in this one solely based off the idea that Powell and Kleber will have no shot at containing the Harden-Embiid pick and roll. Give me Philly to hand the Mavericks their first road trip loss by two scores.
Pick: Philadelphia 76ers -3.5 (-110)
Mandatory Credit: Tony Gutierrez.