The Oklahoma City Thunder look to keep up their current five-game winning streak when they visit the slumping Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night. Oklahoma City has won nine of its last 10, while Philadelphia has dropped a season-high four in a row.
All of a sudden, Oklahoma City has gotten red-hot and looks like it is going to likely be a playoff team this year. Despite three new starters from last year and its two stars being traded away in the offseason, it just won’t fade away.
The team with one of the league’s best home crowds has finally started to also win games away from home. The Thunder have been hard to slow down of late and will look to keep the winning train rolling Monday night. What a story they have proven to be.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, has not had any good news in weeks. The losses have continued to pile up as questions about the lack of success do too. Like why did they paid Al Horford so much money to play next to Joel Embiid, when they virtually both thrive as centers? Paying Tobias Harris $180 million to play a position he hasn’t been used at in several years and then having a point guard who cannot shot from outside of 10 feet.
So many problems with this team, and perhaps they don’t even have the coach for the long term in Brett Brown, not exactly running the best systems.
The struggling 76ers are seven-point favorites, with the over/under set at 213 points.
New Year, Same Hot Streak
The Thunder are the one team in the NBA that features three point guards capable of playing together and being able to take over the game. Trading Russell Westbrook to Houston netted them Chris Paul, who has proven to be a leader on and off the floor, making all the smart plays. Sending Paul George to the LA Clippers netted them several first-round picks, and also Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is averaging nearly 20 points per game as the team’s primary shooting guard and end-of-game small forward.
Then you have Dennis Schroder, who has been fantastic in fourth-quarter situations, dominating from off the bench. Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel have been effective as a 1-2 punch at center this season.
Oklahoma City will need to contain Embiid Monday night, so it needs Adams to play some big minutes. If Noel (ankle) is out, Mike Muscala will have his hands full.
Trying To Get Right
Nothing has gone right for the 76ers of late, but they do have a 16-2 record at home to fall back on. When they are in Philadelphia, they have proven to be tough to beat. But it is still clear that they have no real offensive system in place, looking almost clueless on the final possession in their last game, a loss to Houston.
The issue is pretty clear here. Because Ben Simmons can’t shoot, the 76ers do not have a player who can isolate for a late basket. They have to set screens and move around because whatever they plan to do is usually going to be predictable.
If only Jimmy Butler had actually wanted to be in Philadelphia. That would have made things much better.
Thunder Surprise On The Road
The 76ers are going to drop to 16-3 at home this season. We should see a great effort from the Thunder, who will win for the 10th time in 11 games. Take Oklahoma City.
Free Play: OKC +7
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