Contrary to what you might expect given the contents of this blog, there are in fact 30 teams in the NBA, and while the 76ers as an organization put out just about as much writable content as anyone, sometimes the other 29 teams need a little love, especially in times where things are quiet on the Process side of the NBA. I’ll be using this little segment to touch on some other interesting match-ups coming up, and what they mean within playoff races, seeding perspectives, and just anything else story-line oriented. While this is supposed to be a non-Sixers segment, I’ll usually still include a blurb about their upcoming schedule.
Tonight: Monday 11/19
Suns @ Sixers: The Sixers host the Phoenix Suns tonight, who are currently scraping the bottom of the barrel much like the Cavaliers. I’m expecting Embiid to do work on defense against No.1 overall pick Deandre Ayton, and probably beast on him on the other end of the floor as well. Ayton isn’t known for his defensive presence, and not many people can handle Embiid in the post anyway. In all honesty, this wouldn’t be a bad game to finally give Embiid a night off, but I doubt he’d want to pass up an opportunity to followup on the preseason shit-talk he had for Ayton.
Jazz @ Pacers: Both of these teams came into the season expected to be middle of the pack teams with a chance to really take a leap forward. Indiana is considered the next team below the East’s top-heavy tier of Boston, Philly, Toronto, and Milwaukee. While Vic Oladipo has been a stud this year, it’s become pretty clear that the Pacers are in big trouble when he’s not on the court. They really are just one or two minor injuries away from dropping into the lower seeds and facing a potentially more threatening first round opponent. The Jazz have been a pretty major underachiever thus far this season. They’ve struggled at home, failed to reproduce their killer defense from last year (even with reigning DPOY Rudy Gobert on the court) and star-guard Donovan Mitchell hasn’t quite been shooting the lights out, and his efficiency has dropped significantly. Mitchell had a famously Kobe-esque game against the 76ers last friday, in which Mitchell posted 31 points on 35 FG attempts, with a big ol’ donut in both the Offensive Rebounds and Assists categories. Both of these teams have something to prove, but the Jazz have more to figure out going into the next stretch of the season if they hope to not get bounced in the first round, as the West is much less comfortable with an extra loss or two on your record than the Pacers’ East.
Nuggets @ Bucks: In somewhat opposite fashion to the Jazz/Pacers match-up, both of these teams had reasons for optimism entering this season, and then took a bigger leap than perhaps some might have expected. The Nuggets offense is deep at the guard position even before potentially adding Isaiah Thomas back in, although Mike Malone will have to figure out how to keep the defensive intensity high when working the back-court into lineups with Jokic, who, for all his smooth passing and scoring capabilities, might get exposed against athletic bigs or small lineups like the Bucks can roll out. Much less on the line for both of these two, although it should be an interesting game nonetheless.
The Rest of the Week:
Pelicans @ Sixers: The Sixers have the opportunity to carry a lot of momentum into the game this Wednesday night against Anthony Davis and the Pelicans, who might just regret their decision to not put up a better deal for Jimmy Butler. Davis has played well all year, but his frequent nights off keep him rested and he might just spoil the Sixers’ streak assuming a win against Phoenix Monday night. As the VP has always said, this match-up is particularly fun because Embiid and AD are the only two guys in the league capable of handling one another, so our eyes are peeled.
Lakers @ Cavaliers: Lebron returns to the Quicken Loans Arena for his Lakers debut on the court he used to call home. Other than that this match-up offers nothing as the Cavs will probably finish the season with the worst, if not close to the worst record in the NBA.
Blazers @ Warriors: The Warriors have a chance to dispel the drama in their locker room (which I hope they do because I’m so tired of hearing about it) with a win at home against the Trailblazers. The Blazers’ backcourt has been stunning, and their bench looks more strong and deep defensively than they did last year. With Steph having missed some time with a hamstring injury, the Warriors will have to dig deep to their secondary deep-threat Klay Thompson and star forward Kevin Durant to outscore the dead-eye Blazers guards.