Tonight’s 10:00pm Eastern game is easily the second most-anticipated time today for Philadelphia 76ers fans, and NBA fans in general. 3:00pm marks this season’s NBA trade deadline, and the Sixers are expected to make a move. What remains to be seen is whether said move will be of the seismic, roster-altering variety, or simply some light pruning around the edges. Ironically, the Sixers and tonight’s opponent, the Los Angeles Lakers, are two of the three teams (along with the Miami Heat) said to be finalists for arguably the biggest name in Sixers trade deadline rumor mills, Kyle Lowry. Last night’s Toronto Raptors game certainly seemed like a sendoff for their long-time franchise cornerstone, so there’s a better than 50-50 chance tonight’s broadcast will be discussing a Lowry addition in some capacity.
As for non-deadline-related matters, few NBA teams could boast injuries on par with the Sixers being without Joel Embiid, but the Lakers currently missing both LeBron James and Anthony Davis more than qualifies. Having already been without the Brow for more than a month, Los Angeles lost LeBron to an ankle injury five days ago. In the two games since, the Lakers have lost by exactly 17 points to both Phoenix and New Orleans. Without their stars, the Lakers’ defense in those two games has fallen off a cliff; LA still leads the league in defensive rating (the Sixers are second), but the Lakers’ 116.6 defensive rating across the past two games would qualify as the third-worst mark in the league this season.
Meanwhile, Sixers fans have to be incredibly pleased with Philadelphia’s performance since losing Embiid to a knee injury two weeks ago. In their six full games since then without Embiid, the Sixers are 5-1, and were running Milwaukee out of the gym until they looked to tire out in the second half of a back-to-back. Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons have largely done their part to assume the added responsibility in Joel’s absence, but different guys up and down the roster are stepping up each night. A healthy Embiid is obviously of paramount importance come playoff time, but this time without him could prove beneficial in helping the team figure out how to succeed when he is not on the court.
In other injury news, both starting wings for Philadelphia are listed as questionable tonight. Seth Curry is hoping to return from a left ankle sprain suffered last week. He participated in shootaround two days ago, so his getting back on the court tonight seems possible. Danny Green is newly on the injury report with left hip soreness. It doesn’t seem too serious and might just result in a rest day for the veteran, who has played in all 44 games for the Sixers this season.
While tonight probably won’t have the same panache as January’s meeting that ended with a Tobias Harris game-winner, it should still make for some fun basketball. Tune in if you can stay up and aren’t too burned out from all the trade deadline speculation/analysis.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Los Angeles Lakers
When: 10:00 pm ET
Where: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
Watch: TNT, TNT OT
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Philadelphia: Joel Embiid - out (knee); Seth Curry - questionable (ankle); Danny Green - questionable (hip)
Los Angeles: LeBron James - out (ankle); Anthony Davis - out (calf); Jared Dudley - out (knee); Marc Gasol - out (conditioning)