Brooklyn at Philadelphia
Time: 6 PM CST (ESPN)
Spread: PHI -7
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Philadelphia 76ers have lost its last two games overall as it prepares to face the visiting Brooklyn Nets Wednesday night at 6 PM (CST) on ESPN. The Sixers are 18-2 at home, and the Nets are just 7-12 on the road. NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes have set the line 7-points in favor of Philadelphia with the over/under set at 223 total points.
BRK NEWS & NOTES:
Brooklyn enters as winners of two of its last three overall. The Nets are 18-21 but still very much in the playoff chase. Brooklyn is in the chase, but the real question most have is “Did Kyrie Irving actually make the Nets a better team?”
A superficial glance at his stats would indicate “yes,” but there is far more to it than that. Irving has been questionable in terms of his leadership, and he is doubtfully really making his teammates better while he is on the court. Even so, LeBron James’ former sidekick is putting up numbers: 28.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game. Perhaps what has really enabled the success though is the play of Spencer Dinwiddie, who is a legitimate All-Star this season. Dinwiddie was expected to regress with Irving joining the fold, and the opposite has happened: He is having his best career year.
Dinwiddie is averaging 22 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game while posting the third-highest PER of any Net (18.54). Caris LeVert has missed the majority of this season after suffering an injury early in the season. Prior to going down, LeVert was averaging 15.6 points and 3.4 assists per game. He is needed as a third scorer in the starting lineup, and his subtraction only appears to be minor. LeVert has a penchant for finding his offense and he would take some pressure off of Irving and Dinwiddie, and indeed, the Nets will be far more formidable when he returns to the fold. The injury to his thumb was expected to cause him to miss 4-to-6 weeks after having surgery, but there is no real time table on his return even so.
PHILA NEWS & NOTES:
The 76ers are 18-2 SU at home where it hosts the Boston Celtics tonight. Philadelphia trails Boston by just 3.5 games for the lead of the Atlantic Division.
Philadelphia averages 109.8 points per game, ranking No. 16 in the Association in scoring. It allows 105.9 per, and the Sixers have a win-differential of +3.9 points. Joel Embiid is the team leader. He averages 23.4 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.2 steals/blocks in just 31.1 minutes per game. The signing of Al Horford has helped the Sixers manage the load of Embiid much better.
Horford is averaging the same 30 minutes per game, and he averages 12.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals/blocks per game. The Sixers have Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson starting on the wings, and both are producing, combining to average 34.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
Ben Simmons is certainly a unique point guard, but he has not been without his issues. The 6’9” point-forward is averaging 14.9 points, seven rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game, but the mantra that he “cannot shoot” is not dying any sort of quick death. While Simmons shoots a very fine 56.3 percent from the floor, he is still passing on most jump shots, and he very rarely (0.1 per game) shoots the triple.
It does affect matters. Teams do not respect Simmons’ shooting ability and that makes it easier to double team Embiid and Harris. Until Simmons gains a respectable mid-range jumper and potentially even a three, it is tough to imagine the Sixers making that final step towards true contention. Philadelphia is a good team, but in some senses, it is an easy team to prepare for. While Embiid is extra-worldly, Simmons’ upside is quite mitigated by his errant shooting.