The NBA has been suspended since March 11. This week we learned the NBA approved a return to action on July 31. It appears the Philadelphia 76ers will play the Indiana Pacers in the first game back. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid will be key to the Sixers success in this game.
The NBA’s Disney plan has been widely circulated since being approved Thursday. Each team will have eight regular season games before the playoffs begin. As Christopher Kline discusses, the Philadelphia 76ers’ schedule is boom-or-bust.
Based on current information, the 76ers will play the Indiana Pacers in their first regular season game. The Sixers have matched up with the Pacers three times so far this season, with Indiana winning two of the matchups. Unsurprisingly the Sixers won their lone home game.
Despite everything else going on behind the scenes, this game is critically important. If the Sixers win, they take the fifth seed from Indiana. Nobody knows how the Sixers will come back. But Ben Simmons has been healthy since April. Joel Embiid will be well-rested.
In their two losses to Indiana this season, Joel Embiid did not play. In the win, Joel Embiid dominated with 32 points and nailed 15 out of 15 shots from the charity stripe. The Pacers cannot and have not been able to stop Joel Embiid his entire career. This game starts with him. His ability to not only dominate Myles Turner on the offensive end of the court but on the defensive side as well, is big.
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Ben Simmons’ back is fine. The game against the Pacers will be a test for Ben. Ben has had a double-double in every game against Indiana so far, but more important for this game is the ability to get to the basket. Everyone has been talking about Ben shooting more, but in this game, he won’t need to. He needs to do what he does best — get to the basket and pass the ball. Defensively Simmons is a nightmare for Indiana and there is no reason to think that will change. His ability to shutdown Malcolm Brogdon will be a turning point in this game
A key thing to look for is how the Sixers handle T.J. Warren and Domantas Sabonis. He’s been the Pacers highest scorer against the Sixers in two games this season. With Simmons handling Brogdon and Embiid silencing Turner, the rest of the Sixers need to focus in on Warren and Sabonis.
Ben and Joel are rested. Either of them can turn it on and dominate the game when they chose too. This game is HUGE for playoff seeding. The Sixers have come out slow out of breaks before, but I doubt this will be the same. Of course, there will be rust but with Embiid and Simmons taking over, the Sixers should handle Indiana with ease.