Good news, everybody. The oft-maligned Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid pairing will not play a single minute together in tonight's game.
The bad news, of course, is that is because tonight is the first night of a back to back, and the Sixers decided that Embiid would be deployed instead in Friday's game against the Denver Nuggets than Thursday night against Rudy Gobert, one of the few NBA centers who can come close to matching Embiid from a size perspective.
That is expected to mean more minutes for Nerlens Noel, who recently emerged from the witness protection program and played three minutes in a game where the Sixers struggled mightily with rim protection.
What's interesting about the Jazz is that they are something of the cautionary tale for the Sixers and their efforts to play Embiid and Okafor together. The two-bigs lineup of Gobert and Derrick Favors presents many of the same spacing issues that the Sixers face offensively. Gobert and Favors are obviously both better defenders than Okafor, but neither is a player you want defending athletic stretch-four types on the perimeter.
The Sixers could also be facing a Jazz squad with better guard play than they’ve shown much of the season, as point guard George Hill could return to the lineup tonight after a 13-game absence. Hill is one of the better defensive point guards in the league, which could mean a rough night for Sergio Rodriguez.
Ultimately, like most games that Joel Embiid doesn’t play in, this game holds a particular “watch at your own risk” quality to it. Don’t go in with high expectations for win #8.
Also, remember, Joel Embiid. #NBAVOTE