The current top seed in the Eastern Conference will face the No. 1 seed in the West when the Utah Jazz visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.
It’s the last game for both teams before the All-Star break, however it might not be their last meeting if they advance to the NBA Finals this summer.
“Hopefully it’s a precursor to the end of the year,” 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said.
The Jazz posted a 134-123 victory over Philadelphia on February 15 in Salt Lake City.
The Sixers played a stellar complete game in a 130-114 victory over the visiting Indiana Pacers on Monday.
Shake Milton gave Philadelphia a spark off the bench with 26 points against the Pacers. Joel Embiid added 24 points and 13 rebounds, Furkan Korkmaz contributed 19 points and Ben Simmons had 18 in a balanced effort.
The bench registered 67 points, the best mark of the season, as the Sixers improved their home record to 15-3, the best in the Eastern Conference.
There have been some roadblocks for the Sixers this season, including a pair of losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers. For the most part, the team has really done well in Rivers’ first season.
“However, it’s something you work on,” Rivers said. “I didn’t think it would just happen. Chemistry is something that you work on every day, that you talk about every day. You sell the roles of every player. You give that player a lot of credit for playing his role. I mean, it’s not by accident. “
Tobias Harris is likely to return Wednesday after missing the last two games with a right knee contusion.
“We need it,” Rivers said. “Hopefully we can get it back in the next game.”
The Jazz hope to avoid their third loss in four games on Wednesday.
Utah lost a 129-124 decision on the road to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday despite Bojan Bogdanovic’s seven 3-pointers and 31 points. Donovan Mitchell added 21 points.
“This is a tough loss,” Mitchell said. “I think we’re all pretty upset about this because it’s things that we knew. It wasn’t like we were tired. It wasn’t like they did something (unexpected). We just didn’t have the urgency and that may not happen.”
Rudy Gobert, who had 22 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots, will need another stellar performance against Embiid as the Jazz close out a four-game road trip.
Individual matchups aside, the Jazz know they are likely to score with possibly the deepest roster in the league. Defensively, they allowed the Pelicans to shoot 56.5 percent from the field and score 74 points in the paint.
To win in Philadelphia, those stats must change.
“When we’re better on defense, offense takes care of itself,” Gobert said. “And we’ve seen it many times at the beginning of the season, when our minds are not in the right place. When we don’t play the kind of defense that we know we can play, it usually affects our offense as well. And those nights are usually not. our best nights. “
Head coach Quin Snyder echoed similar thoughts.
“There are a lot of things we didn’t do defensively,” Snyder said. “And that’s what we did after halftime: we raised our level on the defensive end and we were able to go out in transition and make people pay for those situations. But if we don’t have saves, it’s more difficult for us to play offense.”
– Field level media
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.