The Philadelphia 76ers will be searching for their fourth consecutive win when they host the Utah Jazz on Monday.
The Sixers will also be looking to remain perfect at home after nine straight wins to start the season, the last a hard-fought 119-116 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.
Joel Embiid led the way for the Sixers with 32 points and 11 rebounds while hitting all 15 of his free throws. Tobias Harris scored 22 points, Al Horford added 15 and Ben Simmons had 15 points, 13 assists, six rebounds and four steals.
The Sixers scrambled for the win and Simmons sealed it with three steals in the final 14 seconds. Simmons has been criticized for the lack of a jump shot, but his defense has been stellar all season.
“The plays that he can make from an athletic standpoint and the plays he can make from a physical standpoint (late) in the game are just elite,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. “You hear me cheerlead the cause of him being on an NBA All-Defensive team, and it’s examples like that (late steal) that make it a no-brainer.”
Following the first scoreless performance of his career on the road against the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 25, Embiid has responded with three strong games. He also played in a back-to-back situation for the second time this season, which bodes well in the long run in terms of conditioning.
“Indiana is a pretty good team, so any time you get a win like that, it’s always great,” Embiid said. “There is so much more that we can improve on, so we are going to keep on getting better.”
Guard Josh Richardson (hip) missed the game against the Pacers, and his status remains questionable for Monday.
The Jazz defeated the Sixers by two points earlier this season and will be looking for a sweep.
Utah will also have some extra motivation after a difficult 130-110 loss Sunday at Toronto. The Raptors led 77-37 at halftime, making it the largest halftime deficit in Jazz history.
Mike Conley led Utah with 20 points, Jeff Green added 19 and Donovan Mitchell had 16. Mitchell is the 13th-leading scorer in the league, averaging 24.9 points per game. Rudy Gobert also had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
The statistics were virtually meaningless in the rout at Toronto. It was Utah’s third loss in four games on this five-game trip which concludes against the Sixers.
“We were awful. I think the important thing for us is to understand why,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. “There were a lot of issues — but our urgency to make certain things important defensively, whether that be an assignment, sprinting back and not jogging back against a team that runs the way they do. There were too many breakdowns and too many possessions where we lacked the urgency we needed.”
Snyder pulled his starters midway through the fourth quarter so they should be fresh in the finale of the road trip against the Sixers. But it won’t matter if the Jazz don’t start faster than they did against the Raptors.
“We were so far down in the first half it was difficult, no matter how well we played,” Snyder said. “Our focus in the first half has to be better.”
–Field Level Media