The in-form Philadelphia 76ers will look to continue their roll without MVP candidate Joel Embiid when they visit the Staples Center for a battle with the LA Clippers. Tyronn Lue's Clippers are also in solid form at the moment, and both teams are in the hunt for the best record in the entire 2020-21 NBA season.
Early in the season, Doc Rivers' Philadelphia 76ers usually struggled when Joel Embiid was not available for the starting lineup. However, since the Cameroonian big man went down on March 12th, Philly has a 6-1 record.
On the LA Clippers' side, the team was in the news during the NBA Trade Deadline Day after they acquired Rajon Rondo from the Atlanta Hawks. The LA Clippers are also on a hot streak right now, as they have won their last four games and six of their last eight.
This game will be the first matchup between the Philadelphia 76ers and LA Clippers in the 2020-21 NBA season.
Philadelphia 76ers vs LA Clippers prediction
The Philadelphia 76ers are coming off a victory over the shorthanded LA Lakers at Staples Center, and the game was closer than many would've thought. The LA Lakers were without LeBron James (ankle sprain) and Anthony Davis (calf) but still managed to compete, although the Philadelphia 76ers took a 109-101 win.
The LA Clippers defeated the San Antonio Spurs in their last two outings. First, they blew the Spurs off their home court with a 134-101 win, and then allowed the lowest scoring tally of any of their rivals when they held San Antonio to 85 points on March 25th.
At 32-11, the Philadelphia 76ers are just one game behind the Utah Jazz for the best record in the entire NBA, but they lead the East with a two-game advantage over the Milwaukee Bucks. Meanwhile, the LA Clippers are third in the West with a 30-16 record.
The LA Clippers should be favored for this matchup, as they'll play at home and should have Kawhi Leonard back (he missed the second game against San Antonio because of foot soreness).
Though the LA Clippers are known for having some defensive specialists on their roster, they rank 12th in the NBA in Defensive Rating, but are second in Offensive Rating. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers have the 14th-best offense, but rank second in Defensive Rating.
Philadelphia 76ers vs LA Clippers combined starting 5
Point Guard - Ben Simmons | Shooting Guard - Kawhi Leonard | Small Forward - Paul George | Power Forward - Tobias Harris | Center - Dwight Howard.
Ben Simmons has played his role fantastically for the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2020-21 NBA season. The Australian point guard has put up 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists per game so far and has also been one of the team's best defenders.
Simmons also ranks second on the team in Defensive Rating (eighth in the NBA).
The LA Clippers did not have Kawhi Leonard in their previous game against the San Antonio Spurs due to foot soreness. However, the small forward could return to the court on March 27th to face the Philadelphia 76ers and try to keep LAC's solid run alive.
Leonard is posting 25.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game so far with 52/40/88 shooting splits. The other half of the LA Clippers' All-Star duo is Paul George, who started the year with brilliant performances, but has slowed down since. George is averaging 22 points, six rebounds and five assists per game so far for the LA Clippers with 47/43/88 shooting splits.
Behind the Philadelphia 76ers' exciting duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris has been a monster for the team in the 2020-21 NBA campaign.
Harris' case for an All-Star selection this year was quite strong, as he is posting 20 points, seven rebounds and three assists per game while making 51% of his field goals, 41% of his threes and 89.5% of his free throws.
In the paint, both the Philadelphia 76ers and LA Clippers are missing their starting centers. Embiid is out with a left knee injury, while Serge Ibaka has missed LAC's last six games and has been dealing with a back injury.
Marcus Morris is another good option to be our small-ball center, but he is day-to-day with calf issues. Ultimately, we will go with eight-time All-Star Dwight Howard for the center spot.
Even though Howard is past his prime, he is giving Doc Rivers' effective minutes in the paint. In just over 17 minutes per game, Howard is averaging 6.6 points, eight rebounds and a block per game. Beyond his statistical impact, he will be a big asset for the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Playoffs when needed, as was the case for last year's LA Lakers' title-winning side.