Utah Jazz vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Thursday, December 9, 2021- 7:00 PM EST at Wells Fargo Center
The Utah Jazz have won five in a row. They come into the game with an impressive 10.1 point differential. The Jazz is coming off a decisive 32 point win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The victory moved the Jazz to 17-7 on the season. The Jazz has their eyes on the number one seed in the West.
With their immense home-court advantage, the number one seed would greatly increase the chances of making their first finals appearance in over 20 years. Because the Jazz is so good at home, sometimes their performances aren't necessarily reflected by their overall point differential, so keep that in mind when betting on a Jazz game. At this point, 28 games in the season, the differentials are pretty close. This is not a trend that I expect to hold up for the whole season.
Jazz are led in scoring by Donovan Mitchell, who is averaging almost 25 points a game. The Jazz has the reigning defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert, who is averaging 14.5 rebounds per game and is arguably the best rim protector in the league. Mike Conley runs the offense for the Jazz. Conley is a great floor general averaging 5.4 assists per game.
The Jazz has a very clean injury report. The only player of note that could be missing is Hassan Whiteside, the backup center. Whiteside is questionable with a game-time decision because of a groin injury.
The Philadelphia 76ers have overcome a myriad of injuries to find themselves with a respectable 14-11 record considering all they've been through. Both of their stars, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid have recently recovered from Covid. Sixers head coach Doc Rivers has mentioned that they are still working to return to their full conditioning levels.
The Sixers seem to have squelched the Ben Simmons controversy hanging over their head with the improved play of Tyrese Maxey. Maxey currently leads the offense as the point guard and is averaging 17 points and 5 assists per game. Maxey's defense is also improved.
The Sixers like to play inside out. Most of their offense has been generated through post-ups of Joel Embiid. He either beats his man one-on-one or makes the pass to find a quality 3-point shot. The Sixers have done a good job adding shooters around Embiid.
With Seth Curry, Tobias Harris, Tyrese Maxey, and Furkan Korkmaz are being fairly efficient from behind the arc, the Sixers can beat you inside and out. Like the Jazz, the Sixers are much better at home this season. The Sixers have been a pedestrian 5 and 5 at home this year mainly because of the multitude of games they played without their best players. The Sixers are a paltry 3-7 ATS at home this season.
Joel Embiid vs. Rudy Gobert
While I have criticized Embiid in the past for his conditioning and leadership, one cannot deny that he always plays his best against the other top centers in the league. Some teams' stars get shut down when going against the top defenders in the NBA, but Embiid can score against even the best.
The Sixers will need that quality to be on display tonight when they take on the Jazz. If Gobert can slow down Embiid and turn this game into a perimeter shooting contest, the Jazz has a great chance to get the victory. If Embiid scores constantly and easily down low, the Jazz will be in for a long night.
I think the Jazz are a more complete team as of right now. The Sixers are great but having a max slot being filled by a player who has yet to see the court definitely hurts their depth and ability to compete against the NBA's top teams.
Embiid's conditioning is never the best and oftentimes he and the team fade and fourth quarters when fatigue sets in. The Jazz is balanced, well-conditioned, and plays a smart brand of basketball. For my best bets, I expect the Jazz to get it done on the road tonight and come away with the big primetime victory.
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