The Philadelphia 76ers are in good shape to finish as the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference and the Los Angeles Clippers have a shot at the same in the West. They could easily meet in the NBA Finals in July. Their final regular-season matchup is Friday in Philadelphia (7 p.m. ET on ESPN) with the Clippers set to have Paul George available but listing Kawhi Leonard as questionable. Tobias Harris and backup center Dwight Howard are in question for the Sixers, who opened as 3-point favorites on the William Hill Sportsbook NBA odds.
Needless to say, if Leonard does play and Harris doesn't, this spread would move toward the Clippers; if Harris plays and Leonard doesn't, it would move toward Philadelphia although not as much as the first scenario.
While the Clippers love to rest Kawhi (26.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 5.0 apg), he's actually dealing with a foot injury and has missed the past three. Los Angeles has won all three and enters on a seven-game winning streak, the longest active in the NBA. George (23.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.5 apg) sat out Wednesday's comeback win in Detroit but that was simply for rest. Patrick Beverley and Serge Ibaka both are out longer-term.
Philadelphia won a huge season series tiebreaker over Eastern Conference second-place Brooklyn on Wednesday in a 123-117 victory – although it was a terrible beat for those who wagered the Sixers at -7 as they were up as much as 22 late in the third quarter. Philly backers would have at least gotten a push but Ben Simmons missed a free throw in the final seconds, and with time ticking down the Nets opted not to foul for some reason.
Harris played Wednesday and had a terrific game with 26 points and five rebounds in 34 minutes but he was pulled late because of a sore knee that has been bothering him for a while: "He was limping around," said Coach Doc Rivers. "I felt we could win the game without him. We didn't want to take a chance and we did so, that was the reason." Rivers is the winningest coach in Clippers history with a 365-208 record during his tenure that ended after last season.
Harris is averaging 20.5 points and 7.2 rebounds and surely will push to play in a marquee matchup. The Sixers are then off until Monday. Howard missed Wednesday's game with a sore left knee and spells Joel Embiid when he does play. Howard averages 6.8 points and 8.3 rebounds in about 17.5 minutes per night.
The Clippers beat the 76ers 122-112 on March 27 in Los Angeles behind 28 points from Leonard and 24 from George. Embiid was out injured. Harris had 29 to lead Philadelphia. L.A. is 0-5 against the spread in its past five in Philly, however.
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