A pair of 2018 NBA Playoff teams will meet up in Utah as the Jazz host the Philadelphia 76ers. Both the Jazz and Sixers played on Christmas Day, and will be back on the court after just one day off. Utah blew out the Portland Trail Blazers, 117-96, to wrap up an exciting day of NBA basketball. Philadelphia lost an overtime thriller to Eastern Conference rival, Boston, earlier in the day.
The Sixers come into this game with 22-13 record, but have gone just 3-4 in their last seven games. Philadelphia currently sits in second place in the rugged Atlantic Division, trailing the Toronto Raptors by three games. The Jazz have won three of their last four games to improve their record to 17-18 on the season. Utah is in fourth place in the Northwest Division, and are six games behind division-leading Denver. The Jazz are a five-point favorite over the Sixers in this game.
Embiid Doing It All For Philly
All-Star center Joel Embiid is doing a little bit of everything for the Sixers this season. Embiid is averaging 26.6 points and 13.2 rebounds this season, and his talent was on full display on Christmas Day. The excitable young star poured in 34 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in a losing effort. Philadelphia has been much improved since the arrival of Jimmy Butler via trade earlier this season. Butler is averaging 18.8 points per game, while also playing terrific defense. Philadelphia has plenty of star power, but they are still looking for more depth from their roster.
Offense hasn’t been a problem for Philly this season, as the Sixers are averaging 114.5 points per game. The Sixers have been one of the best passing teams in the league, averaging 26.8 points per game. Point guard Ben Simmons is dishing out nearly eight assists per game and sets the tone for the Sixers offense. Philadelphia has struggled to defend this season, allowing opponents to score more than 112 points per game. The Sixers will need to be sharp on both offense and defense against the Jazz.
Gobert, Mitchell Carrying Struggling Jazz
The Jazz won a playoff series a season ago, but they have not gotten off to the start that they had hoped for. Utah has struggled at home this season, winning just seven of their first 14 games. The Jazz will need to fix this issue going forward if they are going to challenge the Nuggets in the division. Utah is giving up just 105.6 points per game, but are scoring just over 107. The Jazz have struggled to find offense all season long, but their offense was clicking on Christmas Day. Look for Utah to try to use that momentum to get another win over a good Sixers team.
Second year shooting guard Donovan Mitchell and veteran center Rudy Gobert have been the two brightest stars for the Jazz this season. Mitchell leads the team with 20.2 points per game, but is shooting under 30 percent from the three-point line. Gobert leads the team with 12.3 rebounds per game, and is also scoring more 14 points per contest. If the Jazz are able to find more consistent offense from the rest of their roster, Utah could go on a nice run.
Utah Wins At Home
Philadelphia suffered a disappointing loss on Christmas Day in Boston, and having to travel to Utah won’t make things any easier. The Sixers should be able to score in this game, but their defense doesn’t always show up. Utah looked solid in their big victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, and are starting to look like the team from a season ago. Look for the Jazz to stay hot in beating the Sixers at home. Bet the Utah Jazz -5.0 over the Philadelphia 76ers.