Tonight is the first home game where the Sixers will unveil their newest weapon. Member of the 2018 All-Star team, Second All-Defensive team, Third Team All NBA team, former last pick of the first round in the 2011 NBA draft, former Marquette product, slayer of dragons, ruler of the 7 kingdoms, Jimmy Butler, makes his home debut in Philly. Even if this was something you may have argued against the Sixers doing in the past, it’s pretty exciting isn’t it?
Tonight is a very good one too. The Sixers swept the series last year against the Jazz. You’ve got two playoff contenders both on a full days rest at relatively full strength. You’ve got the player who stole the Defensive Player of the Year from Joel Embiid, in Rudy Gobert. You’ve got second year phenom Donovan Mitchell, who shamelessly lobbied for Rookie of the Year and still got nearly swept by Ben Simmons for the honor. You’ve got a talented coach in Quin Snyder who stole some Coach of the Year votes from Brett Brown last season. And you’ve got a front office lead by Dennis Lindsey that has looked so smart that the Sixers considered hiring Jazz Assistant General Manager, Justin Zanik before promoting Elton Brand.
We’ll have final updates for you on the @Liberty_Ballers twitter handle. Last game the Sixers went with:
Butler, Redick, Embiid, Simmons, and Wilson Chandler, who was on a minutes restriction.
The Jazz last game started Gobert, Ingles, Mitchell, Favors, and Rubio.
This morning, ESPN’s Zach Lowe had this to say about the Jazz:
So to open up some points in the paint opportunities, the Sixers will want to both try to force him to the bench by picking up fouls defending Joel Embiid, and also force him out into space on high screens, the likes of which Houston has had so much success against him using. Now depending on the lineup, with Butler possessing the ball, those types of attacks may finally be possible to achieve.
We can expect not only some small ball tonight surrounding Gobert, because they do like to use that. But another thing to worry about are Ricky Rubio and Mitchell regressing and playing better than they have, as both come into the game not shooting as well as they are capable of. Joe Ingles and Jae Crowder have both been versatile and dangerous long distance shooters on the wings.
The Jazz have been one of the less predictable teams on a nightly basis. They’re road warriors, winning 5 of their 7 wins away from Salt Lake City. The Sixers are still undefeated on South Broad Street.
Let’s see what some fantasy stats can tell us about real basketball:
Per both major daily fantasy betting sites, Utah gives up some of the most points to point guards.
That might bode well for whoever the Sixers choose to task with implementing the offense, most likely Ben Simmons, although perhaps some Markelle Fultz, Butler, Landry Shamet or T.J. McConnell too. Because of how shifty Mitchell is, and how crafty, unselfish and smart Rubio is, this wouldn’t be the worst spot to give McConnell some minutes tonight. Especially because the Jazz have had some trouble limiting well-rounded guards who can really fill up box score like T.J. can.
On the other end, the Sixers have been a soft matchup for opposing front court bigs in fantasy. We know to worry about Mitchell and Gobert wracking up stats, but it could be a sneaky night for someone like Derrick Favors or Jae Crowder to make a significant impact.
Weirdly, the Jazz got rocked by the Dallas Mavericks in their last game, an especially dispirited effort. They’ll be looking to come out fast to shake off that feeling of only delivering 22 second half points and just 9 in the last period. Weird!
The Sixers of course are coming off a loss themselves where they squandered a lead and gave up an absurd 35 4th quarter points to the apparently turbo-charged Orlando Magic.
Off the court points of interest include this:
Last time he made an announced drop in to a Sixers game like this, he told broadcast team Marc Zumoff and Alaa Abdelnaby that he doesn’t use the phrase “trust the process.” On top of that some Sixers fans, like “(500) Days of Summer” screenplay writer, Michael Weber, let the NBA commissioner know how many Sixers fans feel about the perception that he used his influence to push out beloved former Team President Sam Hinkie, who drafted or accumulated the assets that helped acquire the Sixers core of Embiid, Simmons and Butler.
In the spirit of my Liberty Ballers running mate, Justin Carter, I’m going to quote his recent game preview and just leaving you with the following piece of high-level game analysis:
“Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here. Jimmy Butler is here.
Oh, and there’s a basketball game tonight.” - Justin Carter
Prediction: Sixers 106 Jazz 104
Time: 7:00 pm EST
Place: Wells Fargo Center Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philly
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Vegas: -3 Sixers