- East-leading Philadelphia 76ers in Indiana to battle the Pacers
- Powered by Joel Embiid, Philly has won five of their last six
- Check the odds, analysis and betting preview below
The Philadelphia 76ers have jumped to the top of the East on the power of MVP candidate Joel Embiid. On Sunday, he’ll be put to the test when Philly visits the Indiana Pacers, who have an all-star big man of their own in Domantas Sabonis and a budding Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Myles Turner.
Both the Sixers and Pacers have done well within the conference: Philadelphia is 12-4 in the East, and Indiana is 7-4.
Oddsmakers have made the home team slight underdogs in this one.
76ers vs Pacers Odds
|Philadelphia 76ers||-2 (-110)||-130||N/A|
|Indiana Pacers||+2 (-110)||+110||N/A|
Odds from FanDuel taken January 30. Tip-off is Sunday at 7pm ET
Embiid Leading The Way
Credit new head coach Doc Rivers for establishing a hierarchy and offensive system with the hulking Embiid as the offensive hub. The 7-footer has thrived. Looking fit and dominating whoever is in front of him, Embiid is averaging 28.3 points and 11.1 rebounds on 54.4% shooting from the field and better than 40% from three-point range (though, thankfully, he’s putting up less than three attempts per game).
[email protected] continues to make a good case for himself.
37 PTS / 11 REB / 3 AST
? presented by @IBX | #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/STjYX9iPyV
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) January 30, 2021
He’s putting that up on just 31.6 minutes a night and is a legitimate early favorite for NBA MVP.
Perhaps the most marked improvement is his work getting to the stripe. Embiid is averaging 11.3 free throw attempts a night, about three more a game than last season, and his 181 total free throw attempts ranks second in the NBA to Trae Young.
TOBIAS HARRIS BEATS THE LAKERS pic.twitter.com/lmpZ0XjQz6
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) January 28, 2021
Philly has won five of their last six, and those wins include a mini-set sweep of the Celtics, while handing the Lakers their first road loss of the season. In their most recent outing, Embiid hung 37 and 11 on the hapless Timberwolves.
The other work Doc has done is getting better balance up and down the roster. Five players are scoring in double digits, with Tobias Harris just under 20 points a game, while Shake Milton (14.6) and Seth Curry (14.2) add more perimeter pop.
Doc Rivers on Ben Simmons’ triple-double and massive impact on the win:
“[Ben’s] brilliance – sometimes – is missed by a lot of people.”
— Lauren Rosen (@LaurenMRosen) January 28, 2021
The odd man out, it seems, is Ben Simmons. He’s averaging a career-low 9.2 shot attempts per game. And while he’s still doing plenty of other things to help the Sixers win, averaging 12.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, a team-leading 7.9 assists and 1.6 steals, he’s too good to not make a bigger impact.
Pacers Keeping Afloat
No matter how you cut it, the Pacers are a tough out, night-in, night-out. New head coach Nate Bjorkgren has been able to keep this squad afloat and competitive even though they’re down major firepower in Caris Levert (who’s yet to play since being acquired after having surgery to remove a cancerous mass from his kidney) and TJ Warren (foot). They’ll may also be down Doug McDermott for Sunday, who’s day-to-day with a back injury.
Domantas Sabonis finishes with his 6th-career triple-double!
22 PTS | 11 REB | 10 AST | 48.2 FPTSpic.twitter.com/vZTxp9KPJZ
— NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) January 28, 2021
What they do have, is a big-small combo that may not be the flashiest, but definitely devastating. Domantas Sabonis has leveled up this year, averaging 20.5 points, 12.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists while shooting 54.8% from the field and 36.2% from deep. Guard Malcolm Brogdon has shifted nicely into the next option next to Sabonis, leading the team in both scoring at 22.7 points and assists at 7.2 per night.
have you voted for the @NBA’s leading shot blocker today?
RT to make @Original_Turner an #NBAAllStar#MylesTurner x https://t.co/T6jmxAXvtp pic.twitter.com/gZuYFGDrUw
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) January 29, 2021
Where this game may be decided is with how Myles Turner handles Embiid. Turner leads the NBA in blocks this season at over 4.2 rejections a game, but Embiid has feasted in this matchup recently. Last year, Turner had more fouls (5) than points (3) or rebounds (3) in 29 minutes in their first meeting. The second, Embiid hung 41 points and 21 rebounds against the Pacers in the bubble.
What’s The Best Bet?
Despite their perch atop the East, the 76ers are just 6-19-1 ATS in their last 26 road games against a team with a winning home record. On the other side, the Pacers are 4-0 ATS in their last four against opponents with a .600 win percentage. We might have to throw those out, though, as Indiana probably doesn’t have the horses to run with Philly.
Maybe the most important stat is this: Indiana is next-to-last in three-point shooting defense, allowing teams to shoot 39%. If Embiid starts wreaking havoc inside, all that help down low should open up some three-point shooting to make a difference in this one.
The pick: 76ers -2 (-110)