For what could have been a great night of basketball, extenuating circumstances might lend itself to blowouts over competitive matchups for TNT’s Tuesday night doubleheader.
The Brooklyn Nets have had their fair share of issues all season long which has led to their product on the basketball court suffering. They have had some good moments on the court, but they have been merely flashes and not consistent. Still, the return of Ben Simmons to Philadelphia to play against his former team is must-see TV for many; well, if the 76ers were not so unbelievably banged up.
Following that Eastern Conference showdown, the Los Angeles Lakers will take on the Phoenix Suns in Arizona looking to keep their positive momentum. Unfortunately, their opponent in the Suns are one of the clear elite teams in the league this season and the Lakers might be without LeBron James once again.
Let’s dive into each game.
Philadelphia 76ers vs Brooklyn Nets
Tuesday, 10/25 at 5:30pm MST on TNT in Philadelphia
This game, while it has the look of a marquee matchup, is likely to fall flat.
Not only is the Kyrie Irving-led circus known as the Nets making yet another TNT appearance, but they will be taking on a bruised, battered, and decimated 76ers roster.
James Harden is dealing with a right foot tendon strain which is expected to keep him out until sometime around the start of December so he will not be playing. Tyrese Maxey just fractured his left foot and will be out somewhere near a month. Joel Embiid has a left mid-foot strain which will keep him out against the Nets. Lastly, Tobias Harris will thankfully return from his non-COVID illness to help the remains of the 76ers roster prepare for their nationally televised game against the Nets.
This injury luck could not have come at a worst time for the 76ers either. They are just 8-8 after 16 games and are now staring down a stretch of game without their three best players. How is that team — who posted just the 17th-best offense over the season thus far — supposed to score with so many dynamic offensive players out? Conversely, how can their top-five defense stay afloat without Embiid anchoring them down low? Finding a way to win will not be easy for Philadelphia.
That being said, despite the improved play by the Nets when Irving was away from the team, Brooklyn is still 8-9 on the season and average in about every distinguishable way. They are 13th in offensive rating, 19th in defensive rating, and 15th in net rating.
When it comes to Irving’s continued issues stemming from his sharing of a blatantly antisemitic film full of holocaust denial and a false Adolf Hitler quote, I will leave the nuance in the hands of those more qualified to speak on the subject such as Yaron Weitzman of Fox Sports who’s writing on this subject has been essential. Read his most recent story here.
Beyond the chaos of Kyrie, there are still basketball things taking place in Brooklyn such as the Ben Simmons resurrection. After struggling to begin the season, it appears Simmons has found confidence and a rhythm. In Brooklyn’s last three games, Simmons is averaging 16 points, 8.7 rebounds and five assists per game and is shooting an absurd 85% from the field. He has 15 assists against eight turnovers and looks to be turning a corner.
His improvement comes just in time for his return to Philadelphia as an active member of the Nets roster.
- With so many injuries hampering the 76ers, DraftKings Sportsbook has Philadelphia as home-court underdogs which could provide strong value for bettors. On DraftKings, the 76ers are +250 on the money line.
- Thinking of good value, with Embiid sidelined, his value as the MVP is strong. DraftKings has Embiid as +1000 to win MVP and those odds might only become better value for bettors until he returns. Betting Embiid for MVP is something to keep an eye on.
Phoenix Suns vs Los Angeles Lakers
Tuesday, 10/25 at 8pm MST on TNT in Phoenix
Well, hopefully the Lakers recent strong play is indication of an impending good game because there are not many other trends that point toward the outcome being anything other than a blowout.
Yes, at one point the Lakers had hope they could exceed expectations, but any faith in their long-term outlook feels forced after their 5-10 start. Sure, Los Angeles is on a three-game winning streak even with LeBron James on the bench injured, but they are an abysmal 28th in offensive rating this season which is dragging down their net rating like an anchor. Despite being eighth in defensive rating, their overall net rating is all the way to 24th.
They require both James and Anthony Davis to play at near-MVP levels in order to contend. They lack talent everywhere else and have little chance of keeping up in high scoring affairs. There is just not reason for optimism.
Currently, James is a game time decision for their battle with the Suns. Russell Westbrook is also a game time decision with a thumb issue.
The Suns are the exact opposite. Despite all of their injuries and the drama swirling above their franchise, they just keep grabbing win after win like a machine and sit top-10 in both offensive rating and defensive rating. Overall, they have a net rating of +7.0 which is second-best in basketball to only the Boston Celtics.
Devin Booker is quietly flirting with a possible 50/40/90 season as a top-10 scorer in the league. Oh, and he is creating for teammates with an ease unseen from him over his prior years. He is putting together an MVP-caliber season.
There is a chance that Chris Paul could return for Phoenix’s game against Los Angeles, but nothing is official yet. In addition to Paul, Landry Shamet could return from his time in concussion protocol. Cam Johnson will continue to be out with his torn right meniscus.
There is no reason to expect the Suns do anything but continue to improve as well as demolish the Lakers on TNT.
- Devin Booker being 12th in MVP odds despite being the best player on the arguably the best team in the Western Conference is beyond puzzling to me. He is averaging 27.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.9 assists while flirting with a 50/40/90 season. DraftKings has him at +4500 to win the award.