Tonight, the Sixers will make their long-awaited return to ‘regular season’ play in the Orlando bubble against the Indiana Pacers.
As a refresher, when the season shut down, the Pacers and Sixers had identical 39-26 records. However, the Pacers are currently seeded fifth and the Sixers sixth, since Indiana holds the tiebreaker between the two teams, having beat the Sixers two out of three times during the season.
The Sixers seem to be fully healthy heading into tonight’s contest, save for guard Zhaire Smith, who remains in Philadelphia. Joel Embiid, Glenn Robinson III and Raul Neto were removed from the team’s injury report on Friday altogether, signaling that they’re good to go.
The biggest question for Indiana, of course, is the availability of star guard Victor Oladipo. Oladipo has only played 13 games this season, as he recovered from surgery to fix a ruptured quad tendon that he sustained during the 2018-2019 season. In early July, Oladipo announced that he would sit out the restart, but still join his team in Orlando. Soon after, he reversed course, and is said to have been contemplating playing. His status remains up in the air:
Indiana Pacers star Victor Oladipo will go through a pregame warmup before determining if he’ll play tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) August 1, 2020
Other Things to Keep an Eye On
- Pregame social justice displays. There has been much discussion about how teams will choose to demonstrate protests of police brutality and social injustice. Tobias Harris seems to be spearheading the team’s combined approach to express themselves in protest. Via Matisse Thybulle’s vlog series, fans have been given unprecedented access to the team’s discussions on this topic.
- The new starting lineup. Shake Milton, starting point guard! Ben Simmons, starting power forward! Al Horford, sixth man! Intrigue abounds.
- Will Simmons shoot any threes?
- Will Embiid be in tip-top shape?
- Will TJ McConnell steal an inbounds pass?
- Can the Sixers’ bench provide enough juice and energy to make up for the lack of fans?
- How odd will the viewing experience be in this strange scenario?
It has been a long, long time. But I’m happy to say that it’s game day. See you there.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Indiana Pacers
Where: ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Orlando, FL (The Bubble)
When: 7:00 PM, ET
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia