Coming off far and away their most dominant performance of the season in Orlando on New Year’s Eve, the Sixers welcome the Charlotte Hornets to Philadelphia for the start of one of the two-game sets prevalent in this COVID-affected campaign. The Sixers will play the Hornets at home both tonight and Monday, but they first catch a scheduling break, with Charlotte having lost to Memphis last night, 108-93.
Charlotte now sits at 2-3 on the season, following big offseason moves involving signing free agent Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $120 million deal and selecting LaMelo Ball with the third overall pick in the draft. Coming off the bench thus far, Ball’s savant-like passing has been as advertised, while he has also been proving his detractors wrong in the shooting department, nailing 10 of his 22 attempts from behind the arc in the early going. Hayward has alternated solid and pedestrian performances at the outset of what I believe will eventually become one of the more derided contracts in the league.
With Cody Zeller out following hand surgery, Joel Embiid will see a large helping of Bismack Biyombo. Starting forward P.J. Washington has also been seeing plenty of time as a small-ball 5, but at only 6-foot-7, Washington in that role wouldn’t stand a chance against Joel on the interior. Terry Rozier caught fire in the season opener to the tune of 42 points, but has cooled off considerably since then, bottoming out with a 1-of-11 performance from the field yesterday. I wouldn’t be overly concerned about the “small guard randomly goes off against the Sixers” angle in regard to Scary Terry.
For the Sixers, you’d simply like to see more of the status quo from them and build off the game against the Magic where essentially everything went right. Tobias Harris has been excellent over the last handful of games, looking confident and decisive offensively and active on the defensive end — more of that, please! Joel Embiid is putting up All-NBA-like numbers within the confines of the offense, while playing his usual brand of top-notch defense. As a follow-up to his All-Defensive First Team honors last season, Ben Simmons has shut down his primary assignment nearly every night. Now let’s see a 3 in back-to-back games!
It used to be that it only felt like the Sixers were playing the Hornets every game. Over the next three days, they really will be. Let’s see them keep things rolling in the new year and maintain that first-place positioning in the Eastern Conference.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Charlotte Hornets
When: 7:00pm ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Injuries: Philadelphia: Furkan Korkmaz - out (groin); Mike Scott - probable (knee)
Charlotte: Cody Zeller - out (hand); Grant Riller - out (knee)