Sixers look for fourth straight win in battle with red-hot Cavs

By Josh Liddick, Sports Talk Philly editor 

It feels like a dream come true that this day has finally come. It's Sixers/Cavs on Monday night and it's of course highlighted by the highly touted matchup between LeBron James and Ben Simmons.

For as accomplished as LeBron is in this league, just getting put into the same sentence and being compared to the King is an unreal feeling for Ben Simmons and Sixers fans.

But tonight, we get the first glimpse of the matchup between these two players. And in reality, this game is much more than a matchup between two similar players.

It's battle for bragging rights, a battle for power in the Eastern Conference. The young Sixers come in riding high on a three-game winning streak, while the aging Cavaliers are as hot as teams come in the NBA right now, winners of their last seven games.

It comes as no surprise at this point in the season, but the Wells Fargo Center is about to be hopping tonight in Philadelphia. The Sixers are looking to prove that they can play with the NBA's better teams and actually win games that they start hot in.

One thing's for sure, the Sixers aren't looking for a repeat of both of their matchups with the Golden State Warriors.

Simmons is back and ready for the biggest game of his young career

As a young, promising player in this league, you're surely going to be compared to some veteran at some point of your rookie season. Many rookies crumble under the pressure of having to fill someone's shoes.

But for Ben Simmons, those shoes are LeBron James' shoes.

On paper, these two guys look exactly similar in terms of their size, wingspan, and style of game.

Both James and Simmons bring team-first attitudes to the floor, and their passing game is their greatest asset. Sure LeBron can score, he's been that kind of player for most of his career. And more recently, we've seen Simmons bring out the scoring attribute as well.

But to be compared to someone with credentials like LeBron has is daunting. In fact, it's downright frightening.

Simmons has played 17 games this season, and this game, by far is the biggest one. However, coming off of an elbow injury, the outcome and performance that Simmons might have tonight shouldn't dictate his quality of long-term play against the Cleveland legend.

Fans will want to see Simmons thrive one-on-one with LeBron, when in actuality, he might come out of the gate a little rusty.

Simmons will almost surely make plays against LeBron, but expect to see it vice-versa as well.

LeBron told the Philly media on Monday afternoon that he doesn't want people to compare him to Simmons.

"That's for you guys (in the media)," James said after shootaround Monday. "You guys do that comparison stuff. I think Ben is his own makeup of speed, power, quickness, competitive basketball and being able have a feel for the game. You know, Ben is Ben. And I am who I am. And so on and so on. So you guys kind of do that comparison stuff."

But obviously, other players wanted to elaborate on their stances on the LeBron/Ben debate.

Dwyane Wade:

"Yeah, look at the stat line," he said. "A guy that does multiple things on the floor. A big guard, exciting. So definitely (see similarities)."

JJ Redick:

“The size and the ability to handle and pass. They’re both very dangerous in transition,” Redick said. “There’s really very few players, I’m trying to think if there’s anybody besides LeBron, that’s had that combination of speed and size and athleticism and strength. Look, LeBron is, I think, the greatest player to every play. It’s a tough comparison to make for someone who’s played, 17 games. So, LeBron is obviously in a different category, but I think it’s a valid comparison from where LeBron was early in his career to where Ben is now.”

Joel Embiid could be in for a huge game

Joel Embiid is known for having big games against tough teams, but he is absolutely dominant when he doesn't have a player matchup with someone who is similar in his stature.

He absolutely dominates certain matchups, and for Monday night, the Cavs are going to send Kevin Love in to guard Embiid, which is a matchup nightmare for this team.

There is no doubt that Love has all of the tools to be a standout defensively, but going up against Embiid is a whole other monster.

Cleveland is seriously missing Tristan Thompson, who would've posed a greater threat in the post to Embiid than Love is.

With the Cavs short in the center position, Love cannot afford to get fouled by Embiid, who is notorious for getting players into foul trouble. 

That will almost definitely open up the inside and allow Embiid to score underneath easier.

Expect Embiid to put up over 30 points tonight, because this is a situation that he absolutely thrives in.

Sixers enter tough stretch starting tonight vs. Cavaliers

For the most part this season, the Sixers have had a pretty easy stretch of games, aside from Golden State twice in the same week.

The Sixers are still a little bit away from the schedule loosening up when they take on Phoenix, Brooklyn, and other weak opponents.

However, for the next week or so, we're going to really see how the Sixers can handle themselves against better teams, especially on their tough road game on the slate.

The Sixers finish up their home-stand on Wednesday against the Wizards, but then travel to Boston to take on the Celtics on Thursday night.

They will then take on an up-and-coming Detroit Pistons team at home on December 2.

The Sixers are 11-7 and after blowing out Orlando on Saturday and putting 130 points up on the scoreboard, this team is looking like they can play with and stay with any team that gets thrown their way.

The schedule may look tough at times, but this is the moment where we see what kind of team the Sixers really are right now.


Matchup Preview  |  November 27, 2017
Cleveland Cavaliers
  Philadelphia 76ers
Projected Starters
Jose Calderon Point Guard Ben Simmons*
J.R. Smith* Shooting Guard JJ Redick
LeBron James Small Forward Robert Covington
Jae Crowder Power Forward Dario Saric
Kevin Love Center Joel Embiid
Injury Report
Derrick Rose
  Ben Simmons
game-time decision
Tristan Thompson
  Nik Stauskas
game-time decision
J.R. Smith
game-time decision
  Justin Anderson
    Markelle Fultz

Broadcast Information

Where: Wells Fargo Center

When: 7 p.m. ET

Watch: NBCSP+

Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic

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