The Sixers have some tough games ahead. After a grueling match with lots of impressive play by your boys out in Portland, they dropped a really tough one to the Blazers. It was probably the first game of the season I thought to myself “oh man, they could really use someone like Josh Richardson” because as good as Ben Simmons was at containing Damian Lillard, he could have used a few spells occasionally. And nobody else stood a chance. Everyone else they threw at Dame Dollar seemed to quickly foul him either behind the arc or at the rim. Let’s see how the upcoming schedule looks, keeping in mind Daryl Morey, Elton Brand, and Doc Rivers will be watching this stretch very closely to decide what additional reinforcement they may need.
At Phoenix today, and I have a bad feeling about this one. It’s Philly’s third consecutive game on a west coast road trip facing a team whose strength is a sweet-shooting back court in Chris Paul and Devin Booker. The Suns have won four in a row, and per Clean the glass, based on their differential per game, PHX could be expected to win about two more games than the Sixers overall in a normal 82 game season. They may be due for some positive regression and I think it begins today. Ben Simmons is a wonderful defender, and that may be an understatement. But it’s tricky for him to chase shooters 30 feet away from the hoop all game as well as run an offense on the other end as we saw in Portland. He could use some help on the perimeter defensively.
(Could this be something they address via trade, are there any hard-nosed defenders who can also stick a 3, at the guard spot?)
I’m also a little concerned with injuries in this game.
Prediction: an L and now a 2 game skid with a heightened “paranoid gut index injury” meter.
The Jazz have been the best team in the NBA per record (21-5) and per differential per game (8.9). They’re winning and they’re winning big, and when they lost Mike Conley recently to a hamstring injury, they simply slid in point Donovan Mitchell and didn’t miss a beat. I want to give the Sixers credit for being in one of the next two games (either Phoenix or Utah) but I think one of them they’ll get simply worked.
Prediction: L, and we’re now on a three-game skid and Sixers twitter is demanding Daryl Morey get some guy who probably wouldn’t have made a huge difference in the last two games anyway. “We don’t shoot enough 3s! These Dwight lineups limit the spacing for Ben Simmons! Why doesn’t Doc Rivers stagger Joel and Ben’s minutes more, the units without both really struggle! Where’s Kyle Lowry, where’s Nemanja Bjelica, where’s Lonzo Ball, where’s Zach LaVine, DO SOMETHING! And many of these are valid points.
After Utah, your boys are back at the crib hosting the Rockets. Victor Oladipo isn’t 100 percent, PJ Tucker isn’t 100 percent. John Wall isn’t 100 percent, DeMarcus Cousins looks terrific. But this one will be a much needed victory.
Prediction: W! We’re back in the winners column at a respectable 19-10.
This one should be another dubya. If not it means Zach LaVine went nuclear and you’re wondering why Daryl Morey didn’t make a massive offer for him this off-season before he broke out; or because we’re suddenly dealing with a slew of injuries or safety protocols.
Prediction: Win, record, 20-10.
The Raptors just have’t been the same this year playing down in Tampa. You figure the chances are the teams split this back-to-back series unless there are some health and safety protocol issues. Things aren’t great down in Florida at the moment. The team will have to be sharp to avoid another positive test with all of this traveling. Maybe Joel Embiid style Tyvek suits and two masks for everyone?
Prediction: 1-1 split the pair with Toronto. Overall record 21-11. But there will be someone on WIP radio talking about how the team has now lost 4 out of 7 games and it’s time to panic and many of the callers will agree. But don’t worry, there will be hundreds of tweets aimed at that host to let him or her know not to panic. Dems the rules.
I wanted to find a picture of a “Maverick” and fascinatingly, I learned that it’s both a “unique-minded individual, or iconoclast,” as well as an “unbranded calf or yearling.” So given that the internet often wins, I found this image of Elon Musk with a cute photobombing cow. So this is our Mavericks image. I think the Sixers will win this one, but it’s certainly not going to be a bunny with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis trending up, and having won 4 straight.
Prediction: let’s call this one like vegas would and say 0.5 wins.
Final prediction over the next handful of games: 21-11-.5
There does exist a worse world, however, where the team winds up winning just 2 out of an 8 game stretch. And fans will be asking for a major trade instead of a cheap stretch 5 and a backup point guard. Time will tell where we stand and what we really need. Enjoy the game today, at 3pm Eastern. Hopefully Sixers Sadie has something to play later on the piano later.