Sixers Day (I’m sorry, Philadelphia All Access) concludes tonight on ESPN with a matchup between our Philadelphia 76ers and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Sixers are looking to get back on an upwards trajectory after snapping a four game losing streak on Wednesday night against Minnesota. The Thunder are attempting to bring their record to .500 and show everyone that their win against a good Pacers team wasn’t a fluke. After the Carmelo Anthony and Paul George trades this off-season, the big question was how were these two prolific scorers, along with reigning MVP Russell Westbrook, going to be able to share the ball? So far, the answer has been they won’t. Although Westbrook and George are having successful individual seasons (Westbrook leads the league in assists and George leads in steals), Anthony is scoring fewer points per game this season than ever before. The new “Big 3” in Oklahoma City just haven’t found a way to turn their talents into wins.
The Sixers losing streak coincided with the injuries of Robert Covington and T.J. McConnell, two important pieces of the Sixers rotation. McConnell was available for the game against the Timberwolves and put up a strong stat line of 7-6-2 with one steal. Covington will be available tonight after recovering from a lower back contusion that was suffered in the game against Cleveland.
Trevor Booker has made an instant impact on the team since being acquired from Brooklyn in the Okafor/Stauskas trade. He has ignited the bench and put up double digit scoring in each of his three games for the Sixers. In the three games since Booker’s arrival, the bench has averaged about 30 points per game. Compare this to the three games prior to his arrival where they bench scored an average of 15 points per game and the improvement is evident. The energy of the bench also has to be attributed to the play of Richaun Holmes, who has added a jolt of energy to the court in recent games. He continues to play with a ferocity that is fun to watch, and throws down dunks like the rim disrespected him personally.
As they say, defense wins championships and tonight’s game can be won on defense. The Sixers will need to stop Russell Westbrook from putting up the historic numbers that he is used to scoring (Cov returning should help with that). If they can do that, along with minimizing the turnovers that have plagued them all season, the Sixers may be able to snap the Thunder’s 16 game win streak over them.
Game Time: 7:00 pm
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic