The Sixers head to the Big Easy tonight to take on the New Orleans Pelicans in a cross-conference contest. Both the Sixers and Pelicans are coming off games without their biggest stars, but the teams’ results were very different. Without Joel Embiid for the second consecutive game, the Sixers failed to protect the paint and allowed the Portland Trail Blazers to outscore them by 15 points. The Pelicans rested Anthony Davis against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night, but on the back of former Sixer Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans were able to rout the Lakers, 128-115.
Holiday will not be the only former Sixer we will see tonight. With Davis only expected to play 20-25 minutes, fan favorite Jahlil Okafor should see plenty of backup center minutes. In their previous meeting this season, Okafor played two seconds in a thrilling 121-120 Sixers victory over the Pelicans.
With the absence of Embiid, the Sixers will look to Ben Simmons to lead the offensive effort for the team. In games without Embiid this season, Simmons is averaging 21.5 points, above his average of 17 points per game. Simmons has been playing with an aggressiveness and defiance in recent months, which lends well to putting the team on his back, if need be, and leading them to a victory.
Embiid’s absence also exposes another weakness of the Sixers - their lack of a tried-and-true backup center. Expect Brett Brown to use Boban Marjanovic, Jonah Bolden, and Amir Johnson as his pawns in the chess game that is NBA matchups. If he fails to get checkmate, the least we can hope for is a repeat of this:
If you’ve ever questioned the sheer massiveness of Boban, Anthony Davis is ~7 feet tall and has a wingspan that could hug a mountain pic.twitter.com/yc8z4xxufi— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) April 10, 2018
The Sixers currently sit in 4th place in the Eastern Conference, two games behind the Indiana Pacers, and one game ahead of the Boston Celtics. The Pacers are also seeing action tonight, against the Detroit Pistons, while the Celtics have an off night and will take on the Raptors tomorrow.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. New Orleans Pelicans
When: 8:00 pm EST
Where: Smoothie King Arena, New Orleans, LA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia; NBA TV
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic