Sixers vs Trail Blazers Preview
by Dave Gloeckner (4th and Go)
first posted on www.4thandgo.com
As I wind down from a long day of shopping, returns and video games (with my kids of course), I started to settle in and get ready for the Philadelphia 76ers to take on the Portland Trail Blazers. I love West Coast games in late December. I’m usually off work and by that time at night the house is quiet and everyone is asleep. Which allows me to watch a game in peace instead of having to multi task my watching with hundreds of mundane questions or comments. As I pulled back the rocker chair arm, I opened my phone and saw something I thought was stunning. The Sixers are a 1.5 favorite in RIP City. Really? I mean, the Blazers are 2 games better than the 76ers in the standings and they do play in a much tougher conference. Something just seems out of place with that line. Vegas must be up to something.
So I flip open the old Surface and start digging a little deeper. We all remember the homeboys thrashing of Portland in late November. A 20 point victory that never felt in doubt. The Sixers held the Blazers to a season low 81 points and the Process moved to a season high 3 games over 0.500 at that point with a record of 10-7. Joel Embiid put up 28 points and 12 rebounds while Ben Simmons chipped in with a stat line of 16/9/8. The Sixers arrow pointed straight upwards after that game. Momentum mounting and expectations soaring.
But things haven’t been so good since then. They Sixers are 5-11 and struggling to find an identity on both offense and defense. Portland has been a roller coaster ride themselves, putting together alternating winning and losing streaks since leaving Philly. They arrive back at home after a quick trip to L.A. where they left with a victory. However, it’s the road where the Blazers have actually played better to date. At home, in the Moda Center, the Trail Blazers are a dismal 7-10. Growing up and watching basketball religiously, Portland was always one of the harder places to play in the NBA. But not this year.
Which brings us back to tonight’s tipoff between Philly and Portland. The Sixers are looking to sweep the season series for the first time in almost a decade. They are looking to build momentum off an exciting win on Christmas Day. And Brett Brown’s team actually plays better on the road as well, posting an 8-9 mark. Combine that with Portland’s struggles at home and the Sixers recent dominant game against Damian Lilliard’s crew and I can start to see why the books favor Philly.
I’m excited to sit back, enjoy a few adult beverages, and see our Sixers walk away with a W. I feel much more confident now that Vegas is also on my side. I just have to make sure not to cheer too loud so I don’t wake up the fam. Peace and quiet and basketball! Let’s Go Sixers!