Death. Taxes. The San Antonio Spurs make the playoffs. These are the things we take for granted in this life. San Antonio is currently tied for the record with 22 consecutive playoff appearances, the longest current streak in any major North American sports league. However, the 2019-20 season just might be when the streak dies. The Spurs currently sit at 5-10, among the bottom-three teams in the Western Conference.
Although the Spurs’ offense has been clicking, they’ve been hindered by an uncharacteristically terrible defense. San Antonio’s 113.6 defensive rating is third-worst in the NBA, with the Spurs not creating takeaways or forcing opponents to miss shots. Their opponents’ effective field goal percentage of 54.4 percent is the fourth-worst mark in the league, and their opposing turnover percentage of 12.2 percent is the second-lowest rate.
The Sixers have done a better job taking care of the basketball in their last two victories, turning it over just 14 and 10 times against the Cavaliers and Knicks, respectively. With San Antonio struggling in that area, another strong Sixers effort safeguarding the ball could be in the offing.
Speaking of the Sixers, they will have Joel Embiid on hand, as the team announced the center will start both games of the back-to-back this weekend. (The team did say they would evaluate how Joel felt after tonight’s game.) A nationally-televised ESPN game and Jimmy Butler’s return to Philadelphia trump load management, apparently. Mind you, I’m not complaining.
We’ll also see if Ben Simmons builds upon a tremendous effort Wednesday night, and not just in the “shooting 3s now” department. Will Simmons exhibit the fire we saw in the second half against New York, or go back to being the largely passive observer frustrating fans throughout much of this season’s first month?
Additionally, Philadelphia has picked up a couple minor injuries this week, and Josh Richardson and Trey Burke are both questionable. If Richardson were to miss another game, would Brett Brown once again opt for Furkan Korkmaz in the starting lineup? Furkan was a clear negative on both ends of the floor against the Knicks. Has the stagecoach turned back into a pumpkin on this Cinderella story?
As with any meeting between these two clubs, we have the fun storyline concerning the Brett Brown-Gregg Popovich relationship. We all know how Brett spent nine years on Pop’s staff in San Antonio before coming to Philadelphia. Now, there’s yet another tie for the two men, as they may meet as the head coaches of the Australian and American national teams at the 2020 Olympics. Understandably, Pop got the better of Brett during the Process era. But after the Spurs had won 12 straight games against the Sixers, Philadelphia has now won three of the last four games between the clubs. Tune in tonight to see if the Sixers can make it four of five.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. San Antonio Spurs
When: 8:00 pm ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, ESPN
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Philadelphia: Josh Richardson (questionable - hip); Trey Burke (questionable - ankle, knee)
San Antonio: Derrick White (questionable - foot)
All stats courtesy of NBA.com/Stats, as of 11/22/19.