NBA Saturday December 17 Preview: Philadelphia 76ers v LA Lakers & Utah Jazz v Dallas Mavericks

Philadelphia v LA Lakers | Saturday, December 17, Noon (AEDT), Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia

It has been lean pickings for the Philadelphia 76ers and LA Lakers in recent seasons, but that could all change in the not too distant future as their respective young rosters develop into the league’s elite.

There’s little doubt they both possess some of the richest talent in the NBA and most of those players will be on show on Saturday.

One player though who won’t be suiting up will be Aussie sensation and NBA no.1 draft pick Ben Simmons, who has been sidelined with a foot injury sustained in the 76ers’ pre-season training camp.

The prodigious talent out of LSU, who bypassed the Rio Olympics to focus on his NBA debut, is yet to make his long-awaited debut but that could all change in the new year.

This week, 76ers coach Brett Brown revealed the son of former Aussie NBL star David Simmons, took a giant step towards his comeback by taking free throw shots without the aid of a walking boot.

Simmons (pictured below) is on track to return to action early next year and while the 76ers remain cautious about pinpointing a return date, he’s projected to make his NBA debut sometime in January.

The Verdict

The Lakers also boast an abundance of talent with the likes of Russell, Young, Randle and Ingram but it has been 30-year-old veteran shooting guard and former 76ers player Lou Williams with the hot hand of late.

This match however, could rest in the hands of 76ers big man Joel Embiid who has been playing restricted minutes in addition to being rested for certain games, as determined by Brown and his coaching staff.

If Embiid suits up, the 76ers look good to grab the W here but if he’s rested, it’s worth taking the Lakers. Check the line-ups closer to tip-off.

Unibet Odds: Philadelphia 2.02 LA Lakers 1.82

Tip: Philadelphia

Utah v Dallas | Saturday, December 17, 2.30pm (AEDT), Vivint Smart Home Arena, Utah 

Utah’s pair of Aussie stars Dante Exum (pictured above) and Joe Ingles face contrasting fortunes this week as the Jazz host the Mavericks.

Ingles (pictured below) surprisingly leads the NBA in 3-point shooting at 48.4 percent and the Aussie Boomer looms as another perimeter threat on Saturday.

Exum, meanwhile, is again under an injury cloud after sitting out practice earlier this week in the lead-up to Thursday’s (AEDT) match against Russell Westbrook’s Thunder.

Exum has had a wretched run with injury in the early part of his professional NBA career and was forced onto the sidelines for the entirety of last season after succumbing to an ACL injury.

The Aussie point guard is battling tendinitis in his left knee and his status for Saturday’s game is unclear.

What’s clearer for the Jazz is the return of shooting guard Rodney Hood who is a welcome return to the side after spending time on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.

The Verdict

Utah is usually a decent bet at home and against the scuffling Mavs, they’ll like their chances of clinching the win here.

While the possible loss of Exum is a blow, the Jazz welcome back Hood in the backcourt and their stifling defence, which is one the best on the NBA, will keep the Mavs in check.

Expecting the Jazz to be on song in this one.

Unibet Odds: Utah 1.14 Dallas 6.40

Tip: Utah

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