Steam at stake when Utah Jazz face Philadelphia 76ers

Utah Jazz (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Utah Jazz (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Utah Jazz’s next foe is also a conference top dog needing new momentum.

Wednesday’s 7 p.m. ET game will mark the second of two scheduled meetings between the Utah Jazz (27-8) and Philadelphia 76ers (23-12), who each sit atop the standings in their respective conferences.

When the two squads last met, Utah was riding a seven-game win streak; on the other side, Philadelphia had dropped two in a row and three of its past five.

And without their legit MVP contender, 2021 All-Star starter Joel Embiid, the 76ers suffered a 134-123 loss at the hands of the Jazz on Feb. 15 in Salt Lake City despite 78 combined points from Tobias Harris and All-Star Ben Simmons.

Utah’s Sixth Man of the Year candidate, Jordan Clarkson, was key in that contest with a season-high 40 points off the bench while shooting 8-for-13 beyond the arc.

Now, fast forward to the present…

A different setting for Round Two of the Utah Jazz vs. Philadelphia 76ers

First, this clash is in Philly.

Also, most importantly, Joel Embiid is set to be in the Philadelphia 76ers lineup this time. That, of course, gives fans an opportunity to witness arguably the best offensive big man in the league square off against a two-time Defensive Player of the Year in Utah Jazz 7-footer and 2021 All-Star reserve Rudy Gobert.

Meanwhile, Tobias Harris (knee contusion) is questionable this go-round. Furthermore, it’s worth noting Utah starting point guard Mike Conley was out of action for the first matchup but appears to be ready for a full workload now after missing half of February with hamstring tightness.

Finally, now both teams are in the midst of relatively lackluster stretches given their records. In what will be each’s last game before the All-Star hiatus, Utah and Philadelphia arrive with two losses apiece in their past five games.

Actually, make that three out of six for the Jazz in light of Monday night’s somewhat humbling 129-124 defeat in the Bayou to the New Orleans Pelicans, whose increasingly unstoppable All-Star sensation, Zion Williamson, managed 26 points on 17 shot attempts with only one coming outside the restricted area.


As for the Sixers’ immediate outlook, due to a 5-5 record across their past 10, they could drop to second in the Eastern Conference if they lose to the Jazz and see the second-place Brooklyn Nets beat the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night.

But back to the Utah Jazz. Sure, with a 3.5-game advantage over both the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers in addition to four fewer losses than the Philadelphia 76ers, Quin Snyder’s bunch will be in no danger of misplacing the best record in the NBA before All-Star Weekend regardless of Wednesday’s outcomes.

That said, a 3-4 clip in its seven games leading up to the break would look like quite a disappointing follow-up to the group’s preceding 17-1 stretch.

Yet snagging a W over one of the premier collections of talent in the East — with that collection now at practically full strength — would be exactly what these Jazzmen need.

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