The Sixers promised Joel Embiid plenty of rest across 2017/18, and the injury prone center will get a chance for a breather when he sits out the trip to Utah. As Philadelphia management put it, Embiid’s absence is due to “load management”. It will be a telling absence for a 76ers side that is riding a four-game winning streak which Embiid has helped spearhead.
The Cameroonian has averaged 20.5 points and 8.1 rebounds an outing this season, leading his team in both categories. His absence will be sorely felt as the Sixers come up against one of the best defensive centers in the league in Rudy Gobert. Philadelphia do, at least, have Ben Simmons at their disposal, the early Rookie of the Year favorite coming off his second triple-double of the season in Friday night’s win over the Indiana Pacers.
The Jazz are looking to avoid their third straight defeat in this matchup. Quin Snyder’s men are coming off their heaviest loss of the season, a 137-110 drubbing to the red-hot Houston Rockets on Sunday night, which was preceded by a 109-100 reverse to Toronto. These results have seen Utah slip to 5-5 on the season and eighth in the Western Conference after games played through Sunday.
Three keys to the game
Utah’s out-of-sorts rearguard – The Jazz’s usually watertight defense has been leaky of late. Utah have conceded over 100 points in each of their last three games. They had kept opposition sides below the 100-point mark in four of their first seven games of the season, which unsurprisingly coincided with a winning run.
Home court prowess – The Jazz are 0-4 on the road this campaign but it’s the opposite story at Vivint Smart Home Arena, the venue for Tuesday’s game. Snyder’s side are 5-1 in on their own court, where they have toppled the likes of Oklahoma City, Denver and Portland.
Wounded 76ers – In addition to Embiid’s absence, the 76ers will be without injured guard Jerryd Bayless, who misses out with a sore wrist. While a backup to Simmons and JJ Redick, Bayless has proven handy off the bench and is averaging an impressive 11 points per 10 minutes played this season.
Matchup to watch
Amir Johnson and Richaun Holmes vs Rudy Gobert – Johnson and Holmes are the men that will step in to fill the void left by Embiid. Holmes is coming off an energetic six-point, five-rebound outing in just over 10 minutes on the court during the Sixers’ win over the Pacers. Johnson has managed 5.6 points and 5.7 rebounds across 15:44 minutes this season. Both will need to be at their best to handle Gobert, who is averaging 14 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.
Philadelphia 76ers projected starting line-up
PG – Ben Simmons | SG – J. J. Redick | C – Amir Johnson | SF – Robert Covington | PF – Dario Saric
Utah Jazz projected starting line-up
PG – Ricky Rubio | SG – Rodney Hood | C – Rudy Gobert | SF – Joe Ingles | PF – Derrick Favors
Both fantasy tips are linked to Embiid’s absence. For the Sixers, it’s hard to go past Simmons given the 18.0 points, 8.2 assists and 9.8 rebounds he is averaging this season. That’s a near triple-double average for a rookie, folks. Take into consideration that Embiid, the Sixers’ other fantasy gold mine, is out, and Simmons is the only play here. For the Jazz, Gobert is primed for a major performance given he no longer has to worry about facing Embiid. Ricky Rubio, the Jazz’s leading points scorer this season with 16.3 per game along with 5.8 assists and 4.1 rebounds, is another option.
Utah start as seven-point favorites, and rightfully so. The 76ers may be in form and well rested, but Embiid’s absence hurts them gravely. Couple that with Utah’s strength at home and expect the Jazz to cover.
The Jazz rediscover their rock-solid defense as they get back to winning ways and end the 76ers’ winning streak. Utah take it comfortably, 102-92.
Catch this game on NBC Sports, League Pass or AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain. Tip-off is at 9 pm ET.
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