At long last, the Sixers’ six-game road trip is complete. While fans are surely happy to return to watching games without disrupting their sleep schedule, the trip itself was a successful one for Philadelphia. Doc Rivers’ club went 4-2, with the only blemishes coming against Western Conference contenders Denver and the Los Angeles Clippers. Considering Joel Embiid was unavailable resting his bruised left knee, you have to be thrilled with those results as a Sixers fan. The team currently stands just a half-game back of Brooklyn for first place in the Eastern Conference.
The Sixers back in Philadelphia is potentially not the only big return today, as Embiid could be making his way back onto the court. The big man has been upgraded to questionable for tonight, and it was reported earlier in the week that he was targeting this weekend for a return. Of course, Philadelphia plays a back-to-back against Memphis tomorrow, so Joel could sit this one out tonight and get an additional day’s rest in preparation for the Grizzlies. He’ll surely sit out tomorrow’s game if he does play tonight.
Minnesota currently sits in pole position in the Fade For Cade sweepstakes, sporting a league-worst 12-37 record. One bright spot has been the breakout of first overall pick Anthony Edwards over the past month. Since the start of March, Edwards has averaged 24.0 points per game, with marginally better efficiency than earlier in his rookie season. If Ant-Man can prove the skeptics wrong, the young core of he and Karl-Anthony Towns would provide a solid foundation to build upon moving forward. The Wolves have also seen some good flashes from their young “J-Team” members (Jordan McLaughlin, Jaden McDaniels, and Jaylen Nowell). Adding another blue-chipper from what looks like a very strong top of the 2021 NBA draft could be enough to get Minnesota out of this rebuild.
As for the Sixers, with or without Embiid, they have to take care of business against a bottom-dweller like Minnesota to keep pace with Brooklyn and the surging Bucks. It would help if Ben Simmons would get out of whatever offensive funk he has been in lately. We’re used to being frustrated with his refusal to engage in outside jumpers, sure, but 2-of-11 and 1-of-7 shooting games are totally uncharacteristic. Ben has also turned the ball over six or more times in four of his past seven games. We’ve seen Simmons be effective offensive player this season, even without the much-ballyhooed jumper, but this isn’t it.
Good to have the squad back home — even better if Joel returns and euro steps his way through the Minnesota defense to raise the cat again. Ben, need you to play more than the peacemaker. Check back in tonight and follow along with all the action.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
When: 8:00pm ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Philadelphia: Joel Embiid - questionable (knee); George Hill - out (thumb)
Minnesota: Ricky Rubio - questionable (back); D’Angelo Russell - out (knee)