Sixers Host Jazz in Butler’s Home Debut
The Jimmy Butler era began for the Philadelphia 76ers (9-7) on Wednesday, but the four-time All-Star will play his first Sixers game inside Wells Fargo Center on Friday night in front of what is sure to be a close-to-capacity crowd. The Sixers will be playing host to a rival of sorts in Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz (7-7). Last season, Mitchell and Sixers' Ben Simmons went head-to-head for the Rookie of the Year with Simmons ultimately winning. Past is past, but these are two franchises with some strong young talent, so this game should be a fun one.
The Sixers are coming off of a disappointing 111-106 loss in Orlando on Wednesday night, a game that saw them blow 16-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Turnovers continue to be an issue for Philadelphia, who had two in the costly ones in the final minute, resulting in a momentum change for the Magic. Overall, the Sixers turned the ball over 15 times, leading to 26 points for the Magic.
"We just came up a little bit short," said Butler after his first game with the Sixers. "We’re OK. We just have to go back to the drawing boards at practice and get the W next time."
The Sixers newest addition finished with a quiet 14 points, not touching the ball much down the stretch, something he was brought in to do. Butler is among one of the best fourth quarter scorers this season in the NBA, so hopefully Brett Brown gives him more control as the two parties adjust to each other.
While Butler's debut was semi-underwhelming, Joel Embiid looked like he was poised for another monster game in Orlando, breaking out to score 11 first quarter points before he hit the bench for his first rest. The big man finished with his first career triple-double, but Embiid said he was "pissed" after being taken out, even though he knows the reality of the rotations.
"I'm pissed. I just felt like I was hot," Embiid said. "I made three 3's to start the game & felt like I was going to beat Klay's record."
Although Jojo ended with a joke, expect him to come out with a vengeance after scoring less than 20 points, which has only happened four times in the Sixers' first 16 games. Philadelphia will be looking to extend their unbeaten streak to eight at home.
On the other side of the court, the Utah Jazz aren't coming off of a stinging loss, they are coming off of an embarrassing defeat. On Wednesday night, the Jazz scored just 68 points in a 50-point loss to the Dallas Mavericks, their worst loss since the team moved to Utah in 1979. The Jazz scored just 22 points in the second half after trailing 58-46 at the half.
"There was a point where we stopped competing," Utah coach Quin Snyder said. "We all have to own that and obviously the scoreboard reflected that."
In his second year, Utah guard Donovan Mitchell is off to an up-and-down start, shooting 41.4 percent from the floor (down from 43.7 last season) and 30.3 percent from beyond the arc (down from 34 percent last season). Still, the former Louisville product is dangerous on the court, with the ability to create off the dribble and hit shots from all-around. He's averaging 20.4 points and 4.3 assists this season through 12 games.
Friday will also feature a match-up between reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert, and DPOY hopeful, Joel Embiid. Let's take a brief look at how their stats compare so far this season:
While Embiid dominates in the scoring department, Gobert is equally as solid on defense. The two didn't get the opportunity to square-off in the team's two meetings last season, with one or the other missing with injury/rest.
In two games against Utah in his career, Embiid is averaging just 14.5 points and 10 rebounds in 23.1 minutes, which will obviously increase after Friday's game. Meanwhile, Gobert is averaging just 8.3 points and 9.7 rebounds in seven career games against the Sixers.
As for reigning Rookie of the Year, Ben Simmons, he's averaging 14.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 7.6 assists this season compared to runner-up Donovan Mitchell's 20.4 points and 4.3 assists.
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Wells Fargo Center
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Radio: 97.3 ESPN
Stream: NBC Sports app, MyTeams app