The Phila Killa five finally return after an All Star Break that felt more like a Summer Break — but one left knee joint presents one big buzzkill.
The final 24 games for the Sixers should be about integrating”>https://www.metro.us/sports/bet/advice/pa/are-sixers-nba-title-worthy-fo… Tobias Harris to a lineup that already needed to integrate Jimmy Butler, a sort of chemistry run for the playoffs. But the left knee of Joel Embiid has had an unfortunate, familiar flare up and the team says he’ll miss at least a week.
With his brilliant but somewhat fragile history, Embiid’s status for the week is every bit a hold your breath moment. For the Sixers to go deep into the playoffs it is paramount for this group to learn to play with one another. For Harris to be the effective stretch four spacemaker and Butler to be the wing drive/shoot component next to Ben Simmons’ facilitating and J.J. Reddick’s Three-point bombs. EMBIID”>https://www.metro.us/sports/philadelphia/macnow-ranking-the-top-philly-a… HAS TO BE ON THE FLOOR.
The offense is built for everything to flow around him and through him so his presence is mandatory for cohesiveness.
The other issue comes in the standings. The Sixers are vying with the Pacers and Celtics for the 3-4-5 seeds and homecourt could play a huge role in how deep a possible run. Heading into Thursday’s game against Miami, they were 23-7 at home, compared to 14-14 on the road.
And while the Sixers could still face a road challenge in a series against Toronto or Milwaukee, it would be a distinct advantage against a possible Eastern Finals matchup against Boston. The Celtics are 7-1 against the Sixers, including a 4-1 playoff win last spring and a win over this current group before the break.
Without Embiid, a great rim protector, the Sixers also lose their biggest defensive piece it will be interesting to see how they fare in the coming games: Saturday against the Blazers, then at New Orleans and at Oklahoma City. Then mark on your calendar a March 2 game against the Warriors prime time in Philly.
Without Embiid in the lineup, take a look at the Sixers going over the total. Not only do they lose on the defensive end but the offense is sped up without the big man on the floor.
Even with Nurkic potentially running amuck on Saturday, I still like the Sixers to win, especially with the game being at 1 pm eastern — distinct body clock disadvantage for Portland.
LAST WEEK: 4-2
THE GOOD: We nailed both sides of the”>https://www.metro.us/sports/bet/advice/pa/nba-all-star-game-mvp-odds-joe… All Star game with Team LeBron and the over — a cigar piece.
We also hit the Flyers over the Red Wings and forecast Villanova’s loss to Saint John’s.
THE BAD: We missed out on the skill competitions with our longshot plays and took a bad header with Kentucky upending Tennessee.
In addition to the Sixers overs and Saturday’s game against Portland, take a look at the Flyers in the outdoor Winter Classic against the Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field.
In college basketball, we like Louisville to bounce back against Virginia after it’s loss to Syracuse; Tennessee to win at Baton Rouge, Florida State at North Carolina with the Heels in a letdown spot and Texas Tech at home against Kansas.
Also, take a look at Florida State as a future to make the Final Four. A veteran team that plays defense, thinking the Noles can make another impressive run in the Tourney.