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Sixers-Clippers Preview: Dario visits La La Land

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Sixers kick off their first of two games in So-Cal, against the Clippers in an afternoon matinee.

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

After losing a heart-breaker in OT to the Blazers on Thursday, your Philadelphia 76ers take their west coast swing down to southern California. There is no rest for the weary, unfortunately. Despite the injuries and losses, Brett Brown and company will have to soldier on in an all-too-familiar fashion to finish out the year.

The 2nd half malaise has been prevalent since 2012, as each iteration of the team since then haven’t been playing for much except pride after All Star break. However, the differences between teams of yesteryear and this one are obvious. No disrespect to Damien Wilkins, but at least there are still players that figure to be part of the equation long-term.

Dario Saric has been THE GUY for the Sixers post-All Star Break. Whenever the team needs to create offense or make a big play, Saric has stepped up with a big shot, rebound, or put back. Lately, we’ve begun to see more of the passing and play-making ability that was advertised during his international play. The Rookie of the Year bid seems more plausible by the day.

Meanwhile, the ROCK for this team has been Robert Covington. Since the turn of the calendar year, Bob’s shooting stroke has returned to the tune of ~38% beyond the arc. Combine this with his improved ability to attack the basket and his defensive prowess, we’ve watched a bonafide 2-way player grow before our eyes. It’ll be interesting to see if the Sixers management sees the same thing this fall when extension talks can begin to occur.

Clear out your Saturday evening schedule because this game tips off at 3:30 pm EST .

The Enemy

The last time the Sixers saw the Clippers, they pulled out a surprising 121-110 win. At that time, Nerlens Noel and Richaun Holmes answered the call with Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor sidelined. Philadelphia fans also got into the action as they jeered DeAndre Jordan into some pivotal missed FTs. January seems like a lifetime ago.

Since then, the Clippers have played .500 ball and seem entrenched in the Western Conferences’ 2nd tier (5th in the WC standings). After coming out en fuego to start the year, the Clippers have been spent much of the season inconsistently sputtering along. One night they dominate a good team, the next get beaten by a bad team. While injuries and age seem to be catching up to them, it’s still surprising to see a veteran team with a superstar core lack any type of consistency or identity.

The Sixers have been absolutely struggling with keeping big men in check. This game will be no different as DeAndre Jordan is probably looking for some revenge from that January meeting. The Sixers will also get to see Chris Paul for the first time this season, as he sat out the last time they met. You can already hear the heavy pick and roll. Anyone else getting some Lob City PTSD? And I didn’t even mention Blake Griffin!

The Clippers are coming off an important win against the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night after dropping a clunker to the Timberwolves the night before. Let’s see whether Jekyll or Hyde shows up against the Sixers!

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Joel Embiid News

In a series of tweets, the Inquirer’s Keith Pompey provided an Embiid update via some Brett Brown quotes. Essentially, everything is “on the table”. When word came out that Embiid’s meniscus was torn more than initially thought, it set off a lot of alarms both in regards to Embiid and how the organization was handling him.

The PR debacle also added to the confusion as the given information and timeline make it difficult to infer details about the extent of his meniscus injury (from location to severity). Regardless, the fact that they are seeking out opinions signals to me that surgery is a very real option. The injury bug has been very unkind to the Sixers for as long as I can remember. So let’s hope that this comes to a quick resolution and healthy recovery.