According to Stats LLC, in the 108-94 victory over the visiting Charlotte Hornets, Ben Simmons picked up his third triple-double in four games with one of the cleanest games by a rookie in NBA history: 11 points, 12 rebounds, 15 assists, three steals and zero turnovers — the first such stat-line for a rookie in NBA history.
This is no coincidence — Simmons is more attuned to the Sixers offense and has continued to develop chemistry with several teammates, especially Dario Saric. This will be vital as the Sixers prepare themselves for the playoffs — it’s not farfetched to suggest the Sixers will go as their rookie ball-handler goes.
We know the Sixers are not strangers to playing up or down to their competition. In fact, the Sixers have tallied several losses to the league’s worst teams, including: the Lakers, the Kings twice, the Suns, the Nets. and the Grizzlies (before they went South).
When they square off with the 19-51 Grizzlies squad tonight, they will be facing a team that recently snapped a 19-game losing streak, beating the Nuggets on Saturday. The champagne popping didn’t last long — they began their new losing-streak against the Nets the night after.
There was hardly any explanation regarding the Grizzlies’ surprise firing of Dave Fizdale a few months ago, but the picture is getting a little clearer — Memphis really wants Luka Doncic. 538 projects the Grizzlies to have the best chance at securing a top-3 pick in the NBA draft, and I imagine Fizdale was not on the “tanking bandwagon.”
Below I’ve copied the Player-Impact Plus Minus numbers from the last 10 games for each team, plotted on the same graph. This model uses a box-score prior, luck-adjusted on-off data, and luck-adjusted net rating.
Basically, the farther to the right you are, the better your offense has been. The farther up you are, the better your defense has been (and vice-versa).
For their adjusted Net Ratings, you will find the Grizzlies plus-minuses combine for approximately -12 points per 48 minutes, while the Sixers come-in at a solid +4.5.
This means if the teams played at the same level as the average of their last 10 games, the Sixers would win by around 16 points. Under these circumstances, the model projects a score of 113.68 to 105.27 — or 114 to 105 in whole numbers.
One of the few bright spots in the Grizzlies lineup has been Marc Gasol, but he’s a game-time decision. I would like to see a rematch between the two big-men, as Embiid struggled in the first matchup going 5-for-13 from the field. If Gasol sits, I find it hard to believe the Grizzlies have enough firepower to beat a fully-manned Sixers team (sans Fultz).
The last time these teams squared off, it was an enigmatic game: Ben Simmons registered 6 points while Timothe-Luwawu Cabarrot had 20. The Sixers trailed 98-100 in the final minute of the game before Robert Covington’s turnover and 3 missed threes — sealing the Sixers’ fate.
Game Time: 7:05 PM EST
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
Vegas: -12.5 Sixers