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Sixers-Clippers Preview: No Embiid While Blake Griffin Returns to Action

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Clippers roll into town on a two-game losing streak tonight as the Sixers look to continue their recent good form. Blake Griffin will return to the starting lineup after missing the last month following arthroscopic knee surgery. Los Angeles went 9-8 without Griffin in the lineup.

While Griffin’s return is a cause for excitement (good players are fun!), it’s news that is overshadowed by the absence of two others stars: Joel Embiid will miss his second straight game following a scary hyperextended knee (which the team is pretending is only a contusion) against Portland, and Chris Paul will miss his third straight game after tearing a ligament in his left hand.

In case anyone was wondering whether Paul is actually as good as his reputation, the Clippers have gone a crystal, perfect 2-7 in games that he’s missed. Wait. That’s not good? I guess the Sixers aren’t screwed today!

For the 28th year in a row, Doc Rivers’ failings as a GM have been on obvious display, as his uninspired bench signings have torpedoed the Clippers’ effectiveness in any minutes that Paul, Griffin, or DeAndre Jordan do not play. While Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was a perfectly endearing member of the 2014-15 Sixers (13th in defensive efficiency!), he’s not exactly a scary starter to be facing up against. Neither are Wesley Johnson nor Alan Anderson provide any creation or outstanding defense. And Austin Rivers, with his RPM of -2.62, remains one of the leading examples of “Why Nepotism Is Bad” this side of the Trump Administration.

All that said, the Clippers are probably still favored in tonight’s game. Without Joel Embiid on the floor, the Sixers have been a disaster, and that may be all that matters. Okafor is likely to get the start in JoJo’s absence, and it’s a good opportunity for Nerlens and Jah to show that they can help prop up the team just a little without Embiid. If they can do that, Paul’s absence may be enough to push the Sixers into that “W” territory. Otherwise, they’re looking at their second straight loss and a return to daily visits to

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