The Philadelphia 76ers will take on the Indiana Pacers Saturday evening in what is the second game of a back-to-back for Philly. In the first, the Sixers overcame a deficit of as many as 16 points to defeat the New York Knicks 101-96 in Madison Square Garden. Fortunately for Philly, the Pacers also played the evening prior, needing overtime to put away the Atlanta Hawks 105-104. On the season, both the Pacers and the Sixers are 1-1 in SEGABABAs.
The Sixers are looking to extend a two-game winning streak that includes the aforementioned victory over the Knicks and a bounce-back win against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday after an excruciating loss to the Raptors on Monday. In that Raptors game, Joel Embiid looked like a shell of himself, putting forth one of his worst performances of his career. But Jo used that poor outing as motivation, powering the Sixers to their two W’s over the Knicks and the Kings while averaging 30.0 points, 16.5 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks. Ben Simmons was also a major factor in those wins, as he’s been playing some of the best defense of his young career.
The Pacers have played well of late, riding a five-game win streak into Philadelphia, including an impressive 19-point win over the Utah Jazz. Despite playing thus far without their MVP Victor Oladipo, who is still recovering from a traumatic knee injury suffered last January, the Pacers are at 12-6, a winning pace of a 54/55-win season, good enough for 6th in the Eastern Conference. Malcolm Brogdon deserves a heap of praise for the Pacers solid start. He’s running at per-game career highs just about across the board: points (18.8), assists (8.4), rebounds (4.9), FGA (14.9), minutes (31.4), and FT% (96.3%). Domantas Sabonis has also been crucial to the team’s success, even while experiencing scoring struggles for much of the season. He’s been an absolute beast on the boards, averaging 13.2 rebounds per game with just under four of those being on the offensive end.
The Sixers should be getting Al Horford back, who sat out against the Knicks for rest. He wasn’t the only starter missing from the usual rotation against New York, as Josh Richardson has been bothered by hamstring issues. He’s currently listed as a game-time decision. Indiana on the other hand is mostly healthy, of course with the exception of Oladipo, but this edition of the Pacers hasn’t known things any other way.
Tonight’s matchup carries more weight than your typical late-November regular season game. The Sixers and Pacers are separated by just a half-game in the standings, meaning whoever wins tonight’s game will be ahead of the loser in the standings. Not only that, but the Sixers, Pacers, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat are all separated by no more than a game. While the Celtics and Heat are off tonight, they return to action tomorrow, so by the end of the weekend the Eastern Conference standings could shift a bit.
In the spirit of Black Friday (hey I’m only a day late), it’s worth noting you can get into tonight’s game for just $20.00 (plus fees at checkout) as of this writing from our friends over at StubHub. I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to top off what is in my opinion the best five-day stretch on the American calendar.
What to watch for
Size vs. Size
The Sixers have been widely discussed as a team bucking the “going small” trend, looking to zig while others zag. But Indiana is pretty big themselves, starting two players in Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis who are in the mold of a traditional big. Both squads rebound well and it will be interesting to see the Sixers take on a squad that can match their size.
I’m in Philadelphia as I write this, returning to my native city for the holiday weekend. As such, I’m able to have a little fun on the Fanduel Sportsbook, which I can’t normally do thanks to the Puritans down in Maryland. Let’s run through the ways I plan to become rich in a very short amount of time. It’s fool proof.
This is a little wider of a spread than I’d like, but I think the Sixers could end up routing the Pacers. No disrespect to Indiana, either. While both teams are on a back-to-back, Philly gets the home court advantage. On top of that, the Pacers went to overtime last night, forcing all of their starters to play over 35 minutes, and Sabonis and Jeremy Lamb each played over 40 minutes, with Brogdon (39 mins) and Turner (38 mins) not far behind. They then had to hop on a plane to Philadelphia. The Sixers’ may not feel the wrath of a short recovery, traveling back to Philly from the short trip to NYC on top of two starters possibly returning to play after an evening off. Even without a routing, the Sixers should do enough to be in front toward the end of the game and intentional fouling could create the deficit needed to cover the spread.
Again, the back-to-backs factoring into my thinking here. Both of these teams have been mostly pedestrian on offense this season and both have been among the elite defenses in the NBA. If both teams become fatigued, that could affect both team’s defensive effort. But I think it more likely that tonight’s game is a slog that drags it’s way to a finish with one or both teams unable to crack 100 points.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Indiana Pacers
When: 7:00 pm ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
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