In an 82-game regular season, random games, win or lose, can be a blur and get lost in the shuffle in January and February. But when spring starts to come around after the All-Star break, a team’s fate can come into focus and what used to be a sleep walk in Charlotte or or Indianapolis suddenly has playoff implications.
Out in the Eastern Conference, tonight’s 76ers-Cavaliers game could be the difference of hosting a first-round series or setting up seeding against a second round opponent. For Philadelphia, the #2 seed is up for grabs. With the Celtics going 5-5 since the All-Star break and in the middle of a west coast swing, the Sixers have a chance to gain a game on their Atlantic Division rivals. They’ve won five games in a row with seven of their next eight games on the road starting tonight in Cleveland. Joel Embiid has been in a monster during the winning streak, averaging 37 points, 6.6 rebounds, and five assists with Philadelphia posting an impressive 9.6 net rating in March.
The Cavaliers have won five of their last seven games as they attempt to hold off the surging New York Knicks in order to retain home court advantage in a potential 4/5 matchup in April. Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland are averaging over 50 points per game combined since the All-Star break as Cleveland continues to boast one of the best defenses in the league with Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley in the front court.
Out west, the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers enter The Crypt with identical records (36-33). Any slip up could knock them out of the top-6 in the conference and send them tumbling down into the play-in tournament. The Warriors road woes have been widely publicized this season, but after two strong wins at home against the visiting Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns, Golden State could start this five-game road trip with a bang with a win in LA. Steph Curry still looks like Steph Curry after returning from injury. He’s scoring 31 points a night over his last five games and hitting a ridiculous 50% from behind the arc.
After a rocky start to the Russell Westbook-Clippers marriage, LA has rattled off three straight wins against postseason teams. Westbrook has proven to be a net positive in his eight games with the Clips, a +11.6 over 100 possessions when he’s on the floor. Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, et. al. are in the midst of a 9-out-of-10 game homestand, hoping to not just solidify their standing in the West, but gel fast enough before the playoffs.
The 76ers are two-point road favorites in Cleveland 7:30 pm EST on ESPN, but the Warriors are 2.5-point underdogs visiting the Clippers at 10 pm.
Our friends at DraftKings have some fun Quick Single Game Parlays for tonight’s games. For the Sixers, Embiid obviously hasn’t done it alone. After taking less money this summer to stay in the City of Brotherly Love, James Harden has proven to be that elusive brother in arms next to him this season. He’s averaging nearly 37 minutes a night and averaging nearly 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 11 assists. DK has a Quick SGP for Harden for 20+ points, 5+ rebounds, and 5 assists for +110. A month ago, Harden netted 19/4/12 against the Cavaliers in a game that the 76ers were up 28 points before a furious Cleveland comeback attempt.
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