San Antonio at Philadelphia
Time: 7 PM (CST), Friday (ESPN)
Spread: PHI -7.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Philadelphia 76ers is 9-5 on the season and enters tonight’s game as winners of its last two. The Sixers are a perfect 5-0 at home this season where it is 7.5-point favorites in NBA odds over visiting San Antonio. The over/under is set at 223 total points according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes, and the game will tip-off at 7 PM (CST) Friday night as the first game of an ESPN doubleheader.
Philadelphia last defeated the New York Knicks 109-104, and the contest before that it knocked off the Cleveland Cavaliers 114-95 on the road. The Sixers average 109.7 points per game while limiting opponents to 106.5 per game, and Philly ranks No. 5 in the NBA in assists per game at 26.4. All five of Philadelphia’s top scorers average at least three assists per game, and Ben Simmons leads the team with 7.6 per contest.
Joel Embiid has quietly had a monster season, and he is doing it in less than 30 minutes per game. In his 10 games (10 starts) he has tallied 22.9 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 2.3 blocks/steals per game with a PER of 25.72.
Credit Al Horford for decreasing the pressure on Embiid. He is now able to rest knowing Horford can step in and play meaningful minutes at the 5. The veteran Horford has averaged 14.4 points and seven rebounds per game while playing great defense in place of Embiid for his needed rest periods. Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson are providing solid scoring on the wings, with the duo combining to average over 32 points and 11 rebounds per game.
The Sixers still have something of a secret weapon in Furkan Korkmaz, a guard who can really light it up when he gets his shots. Korkmaz is averaging 36.9 percent on his three-point shooting and 44 percent on his overall shooting while averaging just under nine points per game. Trey Burke has been a welcome addition as the backup point guard, and he is producing, albeit with humble statistical contributions.
The Sixers also have managed to get rookie Matisse Thybulle on the court some, and he is a top-notch defender whose offense will have to catch up. Overall, this Sixers team is built around the talents of Embiid and Simmons, but there are some real diamonds in the rough if Philly is able to get Korkmaz, Thybulle, and James Ennis to become productive members of its young second unit.
The San Antonio Spurs is just 5-10 on the season and it sits in last-place of the Southwest Division, trailing the first-place Houston Rockets by six full games already. This may be the year the Spurs finally return to the realm of the NBA’s lottery teams.
Looking at the Spurs roster, it is understandable as to why: San Antonio is led by two high-scoring veterans, but this team’s defensive outlook is nowhere near as bright, and it lacks depth unless one is to overrate the talents in it and what they have done so far.
San Antonio is giving up 116.2 points per game while scoring 113.5 itself. Over its past seven games, all losses, the Spurs have given up 110 points or more in all of them—including having allowed 120 or more in four of them. The last game the Spurs allowed the lowly Washington Wizards to rack up 138 points, while San Antonio lost by 16 points. The defense has been simply too poor to defeat any teams in the Association.
The Spurs are offensively led by the two veterans DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. Both post-PERs of 20, but after that, the depth really thins out on this roster. Bryn Forbes has provided a boost with 14.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game, but he is really playing right at “replacement level.” The same applies to Patty Mills, whose defense is partly to blame for teams tallying so many points on the Spurs. Rudy Gay is washed up, and Dejounte Murray has been decent but the Spurs were hoping for even more.
All of this comes together to spell a team that is almost lucky to have won one-third of its games thus far in 2019-20. Without a step-up in defensive intensity, it will not even win that many moving forward.