There will be plenty of star power on the floor on Thursday night when the Oklahoma City Thunder host the Philadelphia 76ers. One player who won’t be present is Philadelphia 76ers forward Joel Embiid, who will miss his fourth straight game with knee soreness. Oklahoma City has had the Sixers in the last decade, winning 19 straight games against Philadelphia dating back to the 2008-09 season. Playing the Thunder without Embiid is not going to help the Sixers end this remarkable streak.
Oklahoma City has actually been struggling since the All-Star Break, losing two straight games and two of their last three. The Thunder are still in great shape in the Western Conference and look like a real threat to reach the NBA Finals. The Thunder come into this game with a 38-22 record and sit in third place in the west. Philadelphia is in the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference with a record of 39-22. The Sixers have won three of the last four. The Thunder are -5.0 over Philadelphia in this game.
Thunder Have Two Lead Dogs
The Oklahoma City Thunder have been Russell Westbrook’s team for a while now, but Westbrook suddenly has a running mate this season. Former Indiana Pacers star Paul George is leading the Thunder with 28.6 points per game this season and has taken a ton of pressure off of Westbrook. Westbrook actually looks like he is having fun on the court this season, and is still putting up a triple-double average. The Thunder have always been a contender with Westbrook, but George might push them over the top.
While George and Westbrook will get much of the credit, the Thunder actually have a ton of offensive talent on the team. Oklahoma City is averaging 115.9 points per game, which is the third-best scoring average in the league this season. The starting unit for OKC does much of the damage, but Nerlens Noel and Dennis Schroeder usually provide a spark off the bench. The Thunder love to play fast and score points, and they should do both in this game.
Sixers Starting Unit Can Score
Speaking of scoring points, the Philadelphia 76ers starting unit might do that better than any team in this league. All five of the Philadelphia regular starting lineup is averaging more than 17.0 points per game, which is best in the NBA. Losing Joel Embiid’s 27.3 points and 13.5 rebounds per game will hurt them in this game, but Philadelphia still has plenty of offense to keep this game close. Look for point guard Ben Simmons to step up and look to be more aggressive without Embiid. Simmons is averaging 17.0 points and 7.8 assists per game this season but is capable of more.
The Sixers are right behind the Thunder in scoring, putting in 115.7 points per game this season. The biggest problem in Philadelphia has been the play of the Sixers defense. The 76ers are giving up 112.3 points per game and will be missing their two best big men to protect the paint against the Thunder. It’s hard to get a young team to buy in on the defensive end of the floor, but it might end up costing the 76ers a chance to make a deep run.
Thunder Beat Sixers Again
It really doesn’t make sense that the Thunder have beaten the Sixers in 19 straight games. Philadelphia has had some great teams during this stretch, but they just can’t figure out the Thunder. Without Embiid on Thursday night the streak is going to continue and grow to 20 straight losses for the Sixers. Bet the Oklahoma City Thunder -5.0 over the Philadelphia 76ers.