A pair of solid teams in the Eastern Conference will square up on Saturday night in the NBA bubble as the 76ers meet the Pacers. They both hold records of 39-26 and hope to make a run in the playoffs.
This game will play an essential role in their seeding in the playoffs.
The 76ers will be looking for revenge against the Pacers. They lost to them both times before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they were without their star big man Joel Embiid.
Embiid will be a big part of their success, if they have any, during the NBA bubble. He can provide a big lift for this team. But when he is playing poorly, it limits the chances that they have.
They will also be relying on Ben Simmons, who was able to get rested during the break. He was dealing with an injury but will now enter this game completely healthy.
Simmons has been lifting weights and put on a bit more muscle in the downtime. He joins several athletes in the NBA that put the break to good use by staying in the gym.
Philadelphia struggles on the road. Before games stopped, they had a 10-24 record for away games. If this bubble is a benefit to anyone, maybe it is this team.
Unfortunately for the Pacers, they are currently dealing with some injuries. First-time all-star, Domantas Sabonis, will not play in this one due to a foot injury. This type of ailment doesn’t provide a clear timetable when the big man might be available again.
Myles Turner also missed the scrimmage on Thursday, so his presence is unknown. Victor Oladipo will have to pick up some slack, but he isn’t even 100%.
There was a lot of doubt that Oladipo would even be ready for these games, but Sabonis’s absence has put a spark in him. If they want to have any chance, Oladipo not only has to play, he needs to play well.
He says he is trending in the right direction in his recovery. For the Pacers, the time off didn’t give them enough to get their team back healthy again.
Sixers vs. Pacers is a game that the delay indeed affected. The break in action allowed the 76ers to regroup and enabled injured players to recover. If Simmons and Embiid were sidelined, they probably wouldn’t enter as the favorites.
The 76ers hope that they play in the bubble as they play at home. If this arena acts as an away game for them, they could have a rough time in the restart.
To beat a talented 76ers team, the Pacers need to be at 100%. They don’t have enough role players to carry them to a win in this one without all-star Sabonis, as well as others not being at 100%.
Expect the 76ers to come out with a new sense of life after the delay for the NBA. Take Philadelphia to win, -5.5 on Saturday night.