You can’t deny the Sixers season has been entertaining. The season has been a bit of a roller coaster but there’s definitely been more highs than lows when you get past the pre-season expectations.
Last week was another bittersweet week, starting off with a huge victory over the Lakers and ending with a letdown against the Hawks. It’s been an emotional week in the NBA following the death of NBA Legend, Kobe Bryant.
The Clippers/Lakers game was actually cancelled this week and the league has put out numerous tributes. I’m not going to add to it other than saying it was a tremendous tragedy and I feel awful for all nine of the victims families.
With that being said, let’s talk about the games from the past week and go over the futures bet of the week this week, “Pacific Division Winner.”
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Lakers vs 76ers Jan 25
I love how the Sixers won by 17 and yet the headline on ESPN reads “Lebron Passes Bryant on NBA scoring list in Lakers’ loss.” Even when Lebron loses, he still gets seemingly every headline in every game. I mean, I’m pretty sure most of us assumed Lebron had already passed Kobe but whatever. It’s like how every year, Drew Brees seems to break the same passing record on a Monday Night Football game.
Congrats to Lebron on his lifetime achievement award, but the Lakers got stomped by the Sixers without Embiid playing and Lebron had eight turnovers. The Sixers took the lead midway through the first quarter and never let it go. It was a truly strong performance all-around by the Sixers as they were +6 on rebounds, even on turnovers (21), shot 52% from the field and went 13-37 from deep.
As much as I’ve vocalized my opposition to the Sixers shooting threes, no Embiid against a team with an inside advantage of Anthony Davis really justifies the 37 three-point attempts. The effort was huge on the Sixers end in this game as they managed to win the rebounding battle despite the absence of Embiid. Ben Simmons was huge, posting a +15 with 28 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, and 4 steals. Simmons stepped up big on a big stage and the Sixers played their hearts out in a much needed, high-profile game.
Warriors vs 76ers Jan 28
On paper, this wasn’t a challenging matchup. In reality, it was closer than we probably expected it was going to be. The Sixers pulled away in the fourth quarter but struggled to get separation throughout the game against the Warriors. It was a triumphant return for Joel Embiid as Embiid logged 24 and 10 in just 26 minutes of action.
Though his play was a bit rusty (5 turnovers), it was a good tune-up game for Embiid as his presence was critical to the Sixers’ advantage in the paint (+12) and on the boards (+4). Al Horford was pleasantly involved in the game as he put up 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists. Following the win, the Sixers would get a full day off before heading to Atlanta to face the Hawks.
Hawks vs 76ers Jan 30
The Sixers won the Points in the Paint battle (+2) and the turnover battle (+4), but were beaten on the boards (-6), so we all know how these games go when they lose the rebounding battle. Despite the ancillary victories in the stat sheet, the Sixers lost by ten. Furkan Korkmaz was 0-7 from the field and 0-3 from deep. Trae Young did most of his damage from the free throw line (18-20) as he racked up 39 points in the big home victory.
They were a little better from the field and from three, but the big story was John Collins. Collins went 8-13 from the field and pulled down 20 rebounds, willing the Hawks to victory. This game said a lot about the Sixers and their issues.
With the return of Embiid, Sixers fans could finally relax about the rebounding void and put to bed all these rumors about there being chemistry and production issues with the team. So much for that. The drama continues next week; stay tuned.
SugarHouse and BetRivers futures bet of the week: Pacific Division Winner
With all the drama around the loss of Kobe Bryant, both LA teams have voiced their desire to win the title this year for Kobe. As of right now, the Lakers have a four-game lead over the Clippers in the division with 36 games to go. So, who is the smart pick here?
Los Angeles Lakers -250
The Lakers have been a pretty straightforward team this year. Even when Joel Embiid has missed time this season, Lebron has carried the team in most of those games. The Lakers are thin on the roster for overall talent when compared to the Clippers, but the Clippers are taking a lot more games off, seemingly satisfied with settling for the #2 or #3 seed.
Home court doesn’t matter for these two as they play in the same arena, but I like the Lakers more, since the intensity seems to be there more consistently. I’m sold on the Clippers saving their energy for playoff mode and ensuring the team’s priority is to be well-rested. Also, a four-game lead is huge in the NBA, especially with 36 games to go and a motivated franchise out in front.