The Philadelphia 76ers will face a couple interesting matchups in the Central Division — including the potential Eastern Conference favorites.
Last week I put out a piece detailing how the Philadelphia 76ers match up with the teams in their division. Since we’re in the doldrums of the offseason, and since I had fun writing that, I decided I am going to do a matchup breakdown for each division. Today, we will be tackling the Central Division. I will go from least threatening to most threatening for this one, and I will also go a little more in-depth on the teams that actually might make the playoffs from this group, and I will be using statistics gathered from Cleaning the Glass in those sections, unless otherwise noted.
Cleveland Cavaliers Projected Starting Five:
- Darius Garland
- Collin Sexton
- Cedi Osman
- Kevin Love
- Tristan Thompson
- Other Notable Players — Jordan Clarkson, Marquese Chriss, Kevin Porter Jr., Dylan Windler, Larry Nance Jr., Ante Zizic
Tristan Thompson was famously quoted last year saying the “East still runs through Cleveland”. He was partially right, as every team in the NBA ran through Cleveland with ease culminating in the Cavs’ 19-63 record.
On paper, the Cavs have not improved. They drafted point guard Darius Garland, who is coming off an ACL tear and will likely take time to adjust as all rookie guards do. They could have a full season of Kevin Love this time around, which barring a trade would give them a consistent scoring threat.
There isn’t much to breakdown matchup-wise here, other than to say that the Sixers just outclass them at every position. Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson will be suffocated by a focused Horford and Embiid. Young point guards Sexton and Garland will get a steady dose of feisty defense from Josh Richardson, Ben Simmons and Zhaire Smith.
On offense, the Sixers should feed their big men in the post. By big men, I’m referring to the four starters not named Richardson, since two of them will be guarded by a smaller player most of this game. Young guards are usually a disaster on defense, and the Cavaliers are set to play two heavy minutes, with Love, Nance Jr., Zizic, and a most likely uninspired Tristan Thompson backing them in the frontcourt.
Needless to say, the Cavaliers should be mincemeat against this Sixers team. Last season, the Sixers won the season series 3-1. The one loss was one of their most lackadaisical defensive performances on the season. As long as a majority of the Sixers roster is playing, and they don’t indulge in the famous Cleveland nightlife for too long, they should sweep this season series.