The Sixers head down to San Antonio tonight to play for their first winning road trip of the season. The Spurs are currently sitting at .500 on the season, following a 98-93 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night (after leading by as many as 21 at one point - ouch). The Sixers are playing their second game of a back-to-back after a 128-105 Sunday mid-afternoon routing of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Spurs may have lost Kawhi Leonard in the offseason, but they did gain four-time All-Star and second-team All-NBA player DeMar DeRozan in the trade. A lot has been made of how well the Raptors have been playing since the trade — which is true, they’re leading the East — but DeRozan has been putting up strong performances as well. He leads the league in two-point field goals and is 8th in points scored.
San Antonio has DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, and, of course, Gregg Popovich, but not much else in terms of consistency. Their starting lineup is rounded out by Bryn Forbes and Derrick White, who have provided streaky performances. Both players put up zero points against the Bulls, but tallied double-digit points against the Clippers. The bench for the Spurs also follows this pattern. Marco Belinelli, he of Sixers confetti cannon fame, leads the bench averaging 9.8 PPG off the bench, followed by Patty Mills with 9.5.
Defensively, the Spurs should be outmatched. Joel Embiid is leading the team with 11 defensive rebounds per game. Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge is only averaging 6.4. Not a single player on the Spurs roster has a defensive win share over 1 — the Sixers have two such players, Ben Simmons and Embiid.
Simmons is coming off one of his best games of the season, maybe his career. He finished yesterday’s game against the Bulls with 22 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds, and not a single turnover. Another performance like that, with the help of some solid bench support, would go a long way to ensure the Sixers grab their 21st win of the season.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers @ San Antonio Spurs
When: 8:30pm EST
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Sixers: Markelle Fultz (out, shoulder), Zhaire Smith (out, foot), Justin Patton (out, foot)
Spurs: Pau Gasol (out, foot), Dejounte Murray (out, knee), Lonnie Walker (out, knee)