After a 1-3 road trip, the Philadelphia 76ers return home to face the Charlotte Hornets this evening. It was a stressful trip out west for Sixers fans, as all four games came down to the final minute. Furkan Korkmaz’s game-winner started things off on the right foot, but three straight defeats then sent this early part of the season on a downward trajectory.
Friday night’s loss in Denver was made even more frustrating by the fact that the NBA Officials’ Last 2 Minutes report determined Joel Embiid’s offensive foul in the final second should have rightfully been a personal foul against Nikola Jokic. JoJo should have been at the foul line with a chance to make both free throws to take the lead. Still, maybe don’t blow a 19-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Sixers will once again be without Ben Simmons due to a shoulder injury. It’s the first time since he was first able to take the court three seasons ago that Simmons will miss consecutive regular-season games. Ben is said to be progressing well and will be re-evaluated tomorrow.
While Philadelphia is certainly glad to have the likes of Utah and Denver behind them, the Hornets have not been the extreme pushover everyone expected entering the season. Charlotte has started the season 4-5, led by second-year breakout guard Devonte’ Graham. The former Kansas Jayhawk leads the Hornets at 17.8 points and 7.3 assists per game, outshining big-money free agent acquisition Terry Rozier. The two small guards play a fair amount together, which will make for some interesting matchups against the enormous Sixers roster (although Simmons’ absence makes Philadelphia slightly more traditional size-wise).
Additionally for Charlotte, first-round pick PJ Washington has been a very pleasant surprise. Taken 12th overall in this year’s draft, Washington was viewed by many as yet another low-ceiling selection by the Charlotte front office from a big-name college (Kentucky in this case). Hornets owner Michael Jordan loves getting guys from the blue bloods. But Washington has been outstanding, quickly working his way into the starting lineup during the preseason, and now shooting 50.6 percent from the field and a team-leading 45.2 percent from 3 on his way to averaging 13.3 points per game.
Still, this evening should provide a clear get-right game for the Sixers. Charlotte is the worst team in the league in terms of turnover percentage (18.1 percent), meaning Philadelphia should have plenty of opportunities to get easy buckets in transition and not worry about manufacturing points in a half-court setting. Plus, while Cody Zeller is a capable center, he is nobody’s idea of an elite rim protector. I would expect a big game for Joel Embiid, gassed up by the home crowd in his first game back here since he shadow-boxed his way out of the arena to MVP chants.
Tune in and let’s watch this three-game losing streak disappear.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Charlotte Hornets
When: 6:00 pm ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Philadelphia: Ben Simmons (out - shoulder); Shake Milton (out - knee)
Charlotte: Nic Batum (out - finger)