What’s Rivalry Week in the NBA without some drama? In the night cap, Memphis and Golden State renew their rivalry born out of their six-game series last spring. Out east, we have the return of Ben Simmons to the city that drafted him, paid him, and then unceremoniously shipped him out.
Since Kevin Durant went down with a sprained knee, the 76ers (6-1) have passed the Nets (2-4) in the standings over the last two plus weeks and now sit at #2 in the East. However, Brooklyn has won two in a row on the road in Salt Lake City and San Francisco and wrap up their road trip in Philadelphia with Kyrie Irving on fire. In both wins, he scored 86 points combined on 30-of-51 shooting (13-of-22 from behind the arc) with 15 assists and just two turnovers.
The Sixers are also coming off a successful road trip out west. Philly was undefeated in five games against playoff/play-in contenders. Joel Embiid is questionable Wednesday with a left foot injury that kept him out of their final game in Sacramento.
In the night cap, it’s the Grizzlies visiting the Warriors. Unfortunately, Memphis will be without Steven Adams. Yesterday, the team announced that their starting center with a PCL sprain in his right knee that could sideline him for 3-to-5 weeks. Adams has been a large factor (pun intended) in the league’s best defense and the Grizzlies’ recent eleven-game winning streak. Memphis has been on the skids of late though; after two losses to the Lakers and Suns by a combined three points, they got drubbed in Sacramento by 33. After missing the Kings game, Ja Morant is off the injury report and is expected to play tonight in San Francisco.
The Warriors are scuffling around .500 with a L-W-L-W-L-W-L over their last seven games. With the team relatively healthy, head coach Steve Kerr has opted to go with a smaller starting lineup of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, and Jordan Poole in the place of eight-year veteran Kevon Looney. That move hasn’t exactly provided the offensive boost that Kerr expected and they’ll need everything they can against Memphis despite the absence of Adams.
With Embiid’s availability up in the air and Brooklyn back in the Eastern time zone on a two-game winning streak, the 76ers are just five-point home favorites against the Nets. The host Warriors have an even slimmer edge over the visiting Grizzlies at -3.5.
Outside of the outcomes of the games, the most intriguing storyline might be the return of Ben Simmons to Philadelphia. In his first regular season game in the City of Brotherly Love on November 22nd, Simmons put together a complete game of 11 points, 7 rebounds, 11 assists, 3 blocks, and 3 steals in a nine-point loss.
For much of his time in the league, Simmons has been a triple-double threat. Since getting his footing with the Nets, he’s averaging 7.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game in Brooklyn’s black and white. Our friends at DraftKings have an enticing player prop heading into tonight’s Atlantic Division rivalry game. They peg Simmons’ over/under output at 22.5 for points plus rebounds plus assists (-110/-120). That’s slightly over his season averages, but a rabid Philly crowd will add juice to an already juicy matchup.
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