The Philadelphia 76ers enter play with a 28-16 record, second in the Atlantic Division. However, they have lost two of their last three and narrowly got by the woeful Knicks on Sunday. At 18-4 at home, they look to take down the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are 21-22 on the season and just 6-15 on the road.
Looking at the match up more closely, the 76ers have decided advantages in scoring and rebounding. They are sixth in scoring versus 14th for Minnesota. With the likes of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, Philadelphia is fourth in rebounding compared to 18th for the Timberwolves. The teams are nearly identical in terms of points allowed per game, but Minnesota has a huge advantage in terms of taking care of the ball. They rank third in turnovers versus 28th for the 76ers. Generally, Philadelphia gets into trouble and loses games when they are excessively sloppy with the ball.
The big match up in this one should be in the middle. Karl-Anthony Towns leads Minnesota in scoring at 22.4 per game, to go along with 12.6 rebounds and 38 percent from beyond the arc. Embiid is an MVP candidate, averaging 26.9 points, 13.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and nearly two blocked shots per game. Another great battle will be between the swingmen Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. Rose is having a comeback season, averaging 19 points and hitting 47 percent from three-point range. Butler is also averaging 19 points since coming over to the 76ers and hitting 38 percent from long range.
Other key contributors for the Timberwolves include Andrew Wiggins (18 points) and Jeff Teague, who is commanding the court nicely, dishing out 8.4 assists per game. Former Sixer Dario Saric is hitting 37 percent from beyond the arc and likely will want to perform against well against his former team.
JJ Redick is having a career season at age 34, averaging 18 points per game and hitting 37 percent of his long range shots. Simmons is slowly beginning to add a jumper to his arsenal and is averaging 16.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game. A weakness for the 76ers is a thin bench, as rookie Landry Shamet leads in scoring at only eight per game.
In an otherwise evenly matched game, the key difference is the home and road performance. Philadelphia is one of the best at home and clearly Minnesota struggles on the road. Because of this, the 76ers should prevail in a close, entertaining game decided in the last few minutes.