Saturday, March 6

Leading East Sixers face red-hot Jazz in Utah


In an article published Friday, the Philadelphia 76ers’ most glaring problem was summed up in a simple sentence.

“The 76ers have a depth problem.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer article noted that this superficiality on the roster was “completely exposed” in a 120-111 loss to the Phoenix Suns in which the Sixers bench was outscored 49-20, and was evident during their 118 setback. -114 in Portland. In the past week.

It doesn’t help that the sixth man, Shake Milton, is out with a sprained left ankle.

“The bench,” said 76ers coach Doc Rivers, “hasn’t been bad this year, and it’s been bad lately; probably going back five games, in my opinion.”

That’s an unsettling situation, considering Philadelphia has a showdown Monday in Salt Lake City against a Utah Jazz team that has gotten used to wiping out opponents no matter how deep over the past month and a half.

This Sixers-Jazz game features the teams that bring the best records in the Eastern and Western conferences into action on Monday.

If depth is the 76ers’ weakness, it is the Jazz’s strength.

Not only has Utah overcome the absence of key players during part of its red-hot streak, winning seven straight and 18 of 19 games, but the Jazz have a half-dozen guys who could lead the team in scoring on any given night. . They also have a handful of collaborators who can make timely shots but also provide a defensive spark.

That offensive versatility was on display over the weekend.

In Friday’s 129-115 victory over Milwaukee, four Jazz players – Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson – each scored between 25-27 points. Mike Conley, who has missed four straight games with a hamstring injury, and Bojan Bogdanovic are also quite capable of hitting big offensive numbers.

The following night, in an equally impressive victory over Miami, six different players scored during a 14-0 streak that put the Jazz ahead for good.

Depth also strengthens Utah’s defense thanks to the efforts of unknown players like Royce O’Neale, Derrick Favors and Georges Niang.

“We are versatile,” O’Neale said this weekend. “Our 3-pointers weren’t going off, so we knew our defense was going to act.”

O’Neale didn’t score a ton against the Heat, but he did a good job against Miami star Jimmy Butler by compiling a complete stat line: eight points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocked shots.

Joel Embiid’s continued and consistent excellence is a big reason why Philadelphia has managed so well this season despite depth issues. The center will have his hands full against Gobert, but Embiid has been remarkably consistent, averaging 29.6 points and 10.8 rebounds with a league-leading 31.2 player efficiency rating.

This will wrap up a four-game trip to the West for Philadelphia, and will be the Jazz’s third home game in four nights.

–Field level media



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