Utah at Philadelphia
Time: 6 PM CST (NBA TV)
Spread: PHI -5
odds c/o 5dimes
The Philadelphia 76ers is 14-6 and enters Monday night’s showdown with the Utah Jazz as 5-point favorites according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes. The Sixers are riding a three-game win streak and last defeated the Indiana Pacers 119-116. The betting total for this matchup Monday against the Jazz is set at 208 points, per oddsmakers. The game will air as the first of an NBA TV doubleheader and begins at 6 PM (CST).
Philadelphia is rolling along after suffering a defeat to the Toronto Raptors four games ago. It has won seven of its last eight overall, and it sits at third place in the Atlantic division. The Sixers are just one game back from division-leading Toronto, though. Boston is wedged between. The division crown will be closely contested, and that is something of a surprise since most expected the Toronto Raptors to decline far more than its 14-4 mark has shown us thus far.
Philly center Joel Embiid is putting together another MVP caliber season. The former Kansas big man is averaging 22.8 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.3 blocks/steals per game. His 25.65 PER leads the team. No. 2 scorer Tobias Harris also looks far more comfortable in his first full season with the team. He had some struggles adapting last season, particularly in the playoffs, but has come around now to average 18.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Harris’ court stretching is the most valuable aspect, opening up the floor for Embiid and Ben Simmons to do their work.
Simmons still is not really taking outside shots, but it has not mattered a lot. The Aussie is tallying 13 points and 8.4 assists per game, as definitely the NBA’s most unique point guard standing 6’9.” There are some lingering issues as to whether he and Embiid are definitely the best duo to continue to build around, but there is no denying the individual talents of either.
Josh Richardson has seamlessly stepped in as a third scorer behind Embiid and Harris, essentially assuming the role Jimmy Butler once did, but doing so at a much younger age. That gives the Sixers core some continuity and longevity since none of its core players are old veterans. That excludes the presence and name of Al Horford, whose talents have allowed Philly to keep Embiid’s playing time hovering around 30 minutes per game.
There were questions as to the purpose of signing Horford, but his 14 points and seven rebounds per game are a perfect way to supplant Embiid and keep him fresh for later in the season and postseason. Lastly, Furkan Korkmaz is developing into a vital second unit player and spark. The guard is averaging nine points per game, but his shot and presence on the arc keep teams away from Embiid and Simmons, much the same way Harris does while he is playing his team-high 34.2 minutes per game.
The Utah Jazz is 12-8 thus far this season, but it enters Monday night’s game as losers of three of its last four. Things have been slower coming together following the addition of point guard Mike Conley, perhaps than anyone may have expected. The veteran is coming around after a horrid start to this season and now averaging 14 points and 4.6 assists per game. His ball-handling and offense helps keep Donovan Mitchell ready to find his scoring spots, and Mitchell is blossoming into a true superstar in his third season.
“Spida” as Mitchell goes by, is averaging 25.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game while talking a PER just over 20. Perhaps the biggest surprise for the Jazz has been that Bojan Bogdanovic is far more than a role player, but more of a second star. This changes a lot.
Bogdanovic is averaging 22 points per game while shooting 46.8 percent from behind the arc on seven attempts per game. His offense helps the Jazz continue to play its slow, defense-first style of basketball, of course, cued by the defense of Rudy Gobert. Gobert is averaging 13 points and 13 boards per game, but his 2.9 blocks/steals help further illustrate his importance to Utah. His rim protection is among the league’s best, and he covers the occasional blunders of Mitchell and the Jazz’s other perimeter defenders nearly flawlessly.
Also, Utah has stepped up its scoring to 106 per game this year, and with the way that Utah defends, that should be adequate to put together another very nice season. While few are quick to credit the Jazz in the realms of the elite and true contenders, it arguably is the strongest of the dark horse contenders in either conference.