Philadelphia 76ers vs Houston Rockets

Jimmy Butler and the Philadelphia 76ers look to take down the surging Houston Rockets and their offensive juggernaut James Harden on Friday, March 8th at 8:00 PM EST at the Toyota Center in Houston, TX. The broadcast is available on ESPN, NBC Sports Philadelphia, and AT&T Sportsnet - Southwest; radio is available via 97.5 The Fanatic and 790 AM.

How to Watch

What: Philadelphia 76ers at Houston Rockets

Where: Toyota Center in Houston, TX

When: Friday, March 8th at 8:00 PM EST

How (TV/Radio): ESPN, NBC Sports Philadelphia, AT&T Sportsnet - Southwest | 97.5 The Fanatic, 790 AM.

Philadelphia 76ers (Away)

Head Coach: Brett Brown {All-Time 168-306 | PHI}

Brett Brown's Philadelphia 76ers are primed to make a run for the top of the Eastern Conference. Sitting in the unfavorable fourth spot, the Sixers are just a half game back from the Indiana Pacers and 4.5 games back from the Toronto Raptors.

They've been doing their utmost to close the gap with their leaders. The Sixers are 7-3 in their last ten matches and have dropped games to only the Warriors, Blazers, Raptors, and Celtics in that time. Outside of the Celtics, those are some of the top teams in the NBA.

The Sixers will face off against a red-hot Houston Rockets team who are coming off of an impressive win over the Toronto Raptors. The Sixers blew out the Houston Rockets in their last meeting and are sure to aim for a similar result. Both teams boast slightly different lineups since then, so it'll be interesting to see how the gameplan changes.

Houston Rockets (Home)

Head Coach: Mike D'Antoni {All-Time 614-495 | DEN, PHX, NYK, LAL, HOU}

The Houston Rockets have come from behind and snuck up on the rest of the Western Conference. Once in the fifth position in the Western Conference table, the Houston Rockets have snagged third in the West via an impressive six-game win streak.

The Rockets haven't lost since February 23rd and it hasn't been a string of weak competition. They hold wins over the Warriors, Celtics, and Toronto Raptors in that time, proving they're ready for a playoff run. Health may still be a problem, but D'Antoni's management of the squad seems to be paying dividends.

The Philadelphia 76ers swung for the fences when they acquired Tobias Harris and Boban Marjanovic from the Los Angeles Clippers. While the results have been mixed for the Sixers, their talent is undeniable. The Rockets will have their hands full competing against a team with five legitimate offensive options.

What's At Stake?

The Houston Rockets and the Philadelphia 76ers maintain a back and forth history regarding the regular season series. In 142 games, the Houston Rockets lead the Philadelphia 76ers 72-70.

A win for the Rockets would separate themselves from the Thunder and Blazers and give them sole possession of third in the West.

A win for the Sixers would bring them equal to the Indiana Pacers who are third in the Eastern Conference.

Questions to answer

What should the Sixers do with Jimmy Butler?

Can the Rockets bench continue their run?

We are going to compare the Philadelphia 76ers and the Houston Rockets in an attempt to see who has the advantage in this matchup.

Jimmy Butler's Role Has Diminished

Jimmy Butler came into the Philadelphia 76ers this season seemingly the savior of their season. After a rough start to the year, the Sixers hoped that he would be the boost that their team needed to take the next step.

Unfortunately it was a trade without much regard for the team as Jimmy Butler is yet to truly fit in with the squad. He's not a pure spot-up threat and is best as the primary playmaker. Considering Ben Simmons is that player and can't shoot, Butler is limited to spot-up three's and cutting to the basket - the latter of which he is one of the best in the league at.

Since Tobias Harris joined the Sixers, Jimmy Butler's field-goal attempts have dropped from 14.0 per game to 12.2 per game. It's not say that he is delegating responsibility, but he is certainly not the team's first option. What is certain is that Butler is a versatile offensive threat that the Sixers need to utilize to his maximum if they want to make a deep run into the playoffs.

The Rockets Bench Dominated the Raptors

The Houston Rockets' bench is still not at the level of what they had last season. Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, and Luc Mbah a Moute are likely still better than Austin Rivers, Kenneth Faried, Danuel House, and Gary Clarke. On the plus side, this Rockets team has experience and grit that they had seemingly lost at the beginning of the season.

Against the Toronto Raptors, the Rockets bench was absolutely brilliant. As a whole, the Rockets starting five was dominated by the Toronto Raptors' starting five. Chris Paul and James Harden were outclassed by Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, and Serge Ibaka. When the benches came in though, the story changed.

Defensively and offensively, the Houston Rockets bench performed better than the Toronto Raptors'. Gerald Green and Austin Rivers led the Rockets bench with 18 and 13 points respectively and that is without Kenneth Faried and Iman Shumpert. If this is any indicator of what the Rockets bench can do, they might be right back in title contention.

Philadelphia 76ers Roster Notes

C Jonah Bolden - 5 Mar 2019 - Day To Day (Illness) - Bolden is listed as OUT for Tuesday's (Mar 5) game.

C Joel Embiid - 4 Mar 2019 - Out (Left Knee Soreness) - Embiid has been ruled OUT for Tuesday's (Mar 5) game.

G Furkan Korkmaz - 26 Feb 2019 - Out (Torn Right Meniscus) - Korkmaz will be out at least another four weeks.

C Boban Marjanovic - 4 Mar 2019 - Out (Right Bone Bruise and Sprain) - Marjanovic has been ruled OUT for Tuesday's (Mar 5) game.

G Shake Milton - 5 Feb 2019 - Out (Finger) - Milton broke his finger and there is no timetable for his return, according to Rich Hofmann of The Athletic.

G Zhaire Smith - 13 Feb 2019 - Out (Foot) - The 76ers expect Smith to make a return this year, according to Serena Winters of NBCS Philadelphia.

Houston Rockets Roster Notes

F Kenneth Faried - 5 Mar 2019 - Day To Day (Sore Left Hip Flexor) - Faried has been ruled OUT for Tuesday's (Mar 5) game.

G Iman Shumpert - 5 Mar 2019 - Day To Day (Sore Right Calf) - Shumpert has been ruled OUT for Tuesday's (Mar 5) game.

Head-to-Head: Jimmy Butler (PHI) vs James Harden (HOU)

Two of the NBA's most lasting All-Stars come head to head when the Houston Rockets and the Philadelphia 76ers face off. Jimmy Butler will be taken to task when he is asked to defend James Harden for the majority of the match against the Sixers. Harden is coming off of a tough shooting night against the Raptors but is unconscious from the field. It likely won't affect his play at all.

Jimmy Butler

Shooting Guard | 6-8, 232lb (203cm, 105kg) | Marquette | Exp. 7 Years

18.5 PPG | 4.0 APG | 5.1 RPG | 1.9 SPG | 0.5 BPG | 1.5 TOV | .473 FG% | .345 3P%

Jimmy Butler will need to provide more than just defensive duties for the Sixers when they take on the Rockets. The Sixers are short on players with the amount they have injured. While Tobias Harris has provided additional scoring punch, Jimmy Butler needs to put on his captains' hat and lead the Sixers if they want to take down the dangerous Houston Rockets.

James Harden

Shooting Guard | 6-5, 220lb (196cm, 99kg) | Arizona State | Exp. 9 Years

36.7 PPG | 7.5 APG | 6.5 RPG | 2.2 SPG | 0.8 BPG | 5.2 TOV | .439 FG% | .363 3P%

James Harden is coming off of a poor performance against the Toronto Raptors, despite a Houston Rockets win. While he still scored 35 points, he shot an abysmal 12-30 from the field and he couldn't seem to get past the likes of Danny Green or Pascal Siakam all night. The Sixers are mobile defensively and are sure to employ similar defensive principals of switching every wing player on to Harden. If his shooting isn't up to standard again, Harden will have to ensure his playmaking is up to task.

Philadelphia 76ers at Houston Rockets Predictions and Odds

The oddsmakers have the Houston Rockets favored over the Philadelphia 76ers by 5.5, with an over/under of 110.

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