The Sixers ended up splitting the Atlanta Hawks mini-series 1-1, winning 121-109 last night. Celebration for a solid win won’t last long, however, as they look to match up against one of the biggest surprises in the NBA: the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz currently sit at second in the Western Conference, with an impressive 10-4 record. This is the same team that hit the reset button several months ago by trading away Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Now, they’re being led by Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson, Kelly Olynyk, and Mike Conley — who is still there for some reason?
As time goes on, the Jazz’s early season success looks less and less like a fluke. They currently have the second best offense in the NBA, scoring 115.6 points per game. Their defense is also respectable, ranking eleventh in the entire league. Regardless of who isn’t there, this team plays hard and demands some respect.
Markkanen, in particular, has been an excellent story. His tenure in Chicago ended poorly, as the team lost confidence in him. He eventually went to Cleveland where he underwent a complete position and role change — and thrived. Now, he’s been a huge part of Utah’s success, averaging 22.7 points and 8.8 rebounds while playing with a ton of confidence.
Philly has also been on the other end of “Jordan Clarkson time” numerous times. He put up 40 against the Sixers just two years ago as a sixth man. Keeping him in check will be a huge factor in whether or not they win this game.
On the other hand, the Sixers are still shorthanded. De’Anthony Melton, who has been filling in for the injured James Harden, sat out their Atlanta game with a back injury. Furkan Korkmaz left the game last night with a knee injury. Even Doc Rivers wasn’t available at the end of the game, as he was tending to a personal matter. Players such as Shake Milton, Matisse Thybulle and Danuel will need to step up if these absences continue into this game.
Fortunately, the Sixers should have Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid — both coming off respective strong performances against the Hawks. This is the second end of a back-to-back, so the risk of Embiid potentially resting is there.
Update, 1:05 p.m.: Embiid is not listed on the injury report; Furkan Korkmaz is OUT with left knee effusion.
Some huge news worth mentioning: the Sixers will debut their new city edition uniforms and court tonight. They aren’t the gorgeous spectrum jerseys from last year, but I think they’ll look sharp in action.
Let’s hope the Sixers don’t wander into Wells Fargo Center half asleep like they’ve done so often this year.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Utah Jazz
When: 7:30 pm ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic