Philadelphia 76ers (32-27) at Cleveland Cavaliers (36-24)
It was an easy win for us last night when we backed the Boston Celtics at home against the Charlotte Hornets. Charlotte had won five straight games, but it was all against easy competition, and we weren’t fooled. In the end, the game boiled down to a bad team playing the back end of a back to back against an elite team on the road. When you put it like that, you can start to see why I expected a blowout. And that is exactly what happened last night.
The Celtics dominated form the tip and used a huge third quarter run to put his one away for good. The Celtics eventually won 134-106, very easily covering the -7.5-point spread. Hot streaks need to be taken advantage of in the NBA, but you also have to be very aware how quickly hot streaks turn into cold streaks. We will look at a team that had a great run going only to lose its last two games when the Philadelphia 76ers play the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Philadelphia 76ers will travel to Cleveland Thursday night to face the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Sixers had their seven-game winning streak snapped earlier in the week and will be looking to avoid dropping a third straight game on the road tonight.
For the Cavaliers, Lebron and company are still trying to work out their new rotation with all of the new pieces in place, after a bunch of moves at the trade deadline. The Cavs are -3-point home favorites. The game total over-under is set at 223 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:00 PM PST from Quicken Loans Arena.
If the season ended today, tonight’s game would be a preview of a first-round matchup in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Right now, the Cavs occupy the three seed while the 76ers are in the six hole. I don’t exactly expect a playoff atmosphere tonight, but this could be a fun little look ahead of what the playoffs have in store for us this year.
Cleveland made by far the biggest splash at the trade deadline. They re-hauled their entire roster, making three moves. Including moves to ship off superstars Dwayne Wade and Isaiah Thomas. They sent away pieces that didn’t fit right and rebuilt this team from the ground up. Younger and hungrier, the Cavs are trying desperately to show Lebron James her doesn’t have to leave Cleveland to compete for a title next year.
The moves have seemed to work out OK so far for Cleveland. The Cavs are 4-2 since the deadline, which is a vast improvement on the free fall that was going on before they pulled the trigger on the massive re-haul. They made a huge statement in the first game after the deadline when they went into Boston, then the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and completely blew out the Celtics on their home court 121-99.
Only time will tell if this team is good enough to really compete for an NBA title this season, but my gut tells me that they just don’t have the talent to keep up with Boston and Toronto in the East and they certainly can’t compete with Golden State or Houston in the West. Every game matters for Cleveland at this point as they must figure out who this team is before the playoffs start in just a couple of weeks.
The Sixers put together a nice run in February to move from out of the playoff picture into a decent seed in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers seven-game winning streak was the longest streak in Philly since Allen Iverson was on the court for the Sixers. Philly was 8-1 in February before going 0-2 on this current road trip. However, if you take a closer look at this stretch for the Sixers, it was a very generous patch of the schedule.
Seven of those eight wins were at home. And six of those seven wins were against teams that if the season ended today, would miss the playoffs. The only team they beat that is currently slated to play in the post-season, was against the Washington Wizards, playing without their best player in John Wall. They played a total of one, what I would call good team during that stretch, the Indiana Pacers, and lost handily.
So, was this the Sixers really turning things around or was it just a nice soft spot in the schedule that allowed them to string together some wins? Well, when you look at what has happened to Philly once they had to play on the road against better competition, it might answer your question. The Sixers are 0-2 on this current road trip. They will have the toughest task of them all tonight when they are forced to go into Cleveland and play a motivated Lebron James.
The Philadelphia 76ers are frauds. Yeah, I said it. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are great pieces to build on, but this team is nowhere near the level of a team that is going to win a playoff series this year. I mentioned this would be a preview of the playoffs if the season ended today, and you can bet that Cleveland would easily take care of business in this series if it were to happen.
The Sixers have done an admirable job of winning games against bad teams and keeping their heads above water in the bad Eastern Conference this year. But make no mistake, this team is still several players away from really competing at a high level. Even the fans in Philly acknowledge the team isn’t quite ready for primetime, as somebody has paid to erect a billboard in Philly that says, “complete the process, we want Lebron.”
To make matters worse, the Sixers find themselves in a brutal spot on the schedule. This is their third straight game on the road. Then they go home for just one game, before heading back out on the road for four more games. Seven out of eight games on the road for a Philly team that does all their winning at home? This could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and knocks the Sixers out of the playoff chase.
I expect Cleveland to easily handle the Sixers tonight at home. They are gearing up for a playoff run, and Lebron has been great since the moves. More Lebron, less anyone else in Cleveland, seems to be a recipe for success. Give me the Cavs by double digits tonight laying -3-points at home.