Home Columns Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz emerge as top title contenders in the NBA

Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz emerge as top title contenders in the NBA

Joel Embiid Rudy Gobert Philadelphia Utah
Photo: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers and the Utah Jazz have entered the title picture in the NBA, thanks to their great start in the season.

Both the Jazz and Sixers have been seen as two of the hottest teams in the league over the last few weeks, improving their odds for the championship, per SportsBettingDime.com

Despite their loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night (114-118), the Sixers remain on top of the Eastern Conference, with an 18-8 record.

With Joel Embiid leading the way (29.1 points, 11 rebounds), Philadelphia has become a top title contender this season. Head coach Doc Rivers has created a deep and versatile team that can play impressive basketball on both ends of the floor.

Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and Tobias Harris form a great supporting cast alongside Embiid, which has transformed the Sixers into a championship-caliber team.

Given what president of basketball operations, Daryl Morey, said in offseason, this is the last chance for Embiid and Simmons to lead the franchise to the title.

If that doesn’t happen, it is possible one of the two superstars will get traded next summer. For the time being, though, the Sixers are a legit contender and want to continue that way, as the NBA is getting closer to the end of the first part of the season (early March).

On Saturday, Philadelphia will clash with one of the top contenders in the West, the Phoenix Suns (15-9), and will seek to return to the winning track.

Photo: Matt Slocum/Associated Press

For their part, the Utah Jazz can be considered the best team in the NBA at the moment. The franchise has won 16 of its last 17 games and has the best record in the NBA (20-5).

The Jazz won 11 straight games and became the first team to reach the 20-win mark this season. Now, they are on a five-game winning streak and want to extend it to six, when they host the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.

Utah has the momentum on its side, playing excellent basketball on both ends, just like the Sixers. They are among the top teams in most categories and have seen Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert lead the way.

Mitchell (24 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.1 assists) and Gobert (13.4 points, 13.5 boards) are the reference points on both ends, with Joe Ingles also playing very well (10.7 points, 42.7% from beyond the arc, 3.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists).

After an early exit in the 2020 NBA playoffs, the Jazz look fully capable of turning things around and have their sights set on a deep playoff run this season.

Philadelphia and Utah will face each other on Monday at Vivint Arena, with a rematch scheduled for March 4 at Wells Fargo Center.

Photo: Sports Illustrated
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