After an embarrassing 138-128 home loss to the struggling Los Angeles Lakers, the Oklahoma City Thunder have to be reeling. That’s 5 losses in the team’s last 6 games. It’s not difficult to figure out the defense has forgotten its role on this team, giving up a ridiculous 136 PPG over the last 4 games. There is no denying the Thunder offence is a force, but teams can’t win games if they don’t show up on both ends of the floor. The issue might have something to do with a lack of team depth on a team that has an over-reliance on Paul George (26.6 PPG) and the triple-double king Russell Westbrook (21.8 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 10.7 APG).
The Philadelphia 76ers finds itself sitting in the top 10 in most offensive categories, including 4th in scoring at 115 PPG and 4th in rebounding at 47.6 RPG. The offense’s performance in recent games has led the team to accumulate a fine record of 7-2 in the month of January. During that time, the team has been scoring at a rate of just over 120 PPG. If the defense, which allows over 112 PPG, could stiffen up just a little, this might well be the best team in the Eastern Conference. C Joel Embiid leads the team in scoring (26.6 PPG) and rebounding (13.3 RPG) while G Ben Simmons sits near a triple double average with 16.6 PPG, 9.4 RPG and 8.2 APG.
Prediction: The line is negligible. There’s simply no way the Thunder are going to go into Philly and stop this fine offense if they are unwilling play defense. The feeling here is the 76ers are really coming together with Jimmy Butler in the fold and they could be very tough the rest of the way to the playoffs. Play Philadelphia -2 (125 -115)