A 106-96 win in Boston on Tuesday night kicked the trip off in dominating fashion as the Sixers got a huge performance from Joel Embiid. Embiid scored 35 points in 33 minutes against a heavily under-matched Celtics frontcourt.
Danny Green had a hot shooting night for the Sixers as well against the Celtics, scoring 17 points and going 5-of-6 from three. A dominant defensive showing holding Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to a combined 13-of-27 from the field also kept Boston at bay.
Tonight will be the first time the Sixers face the New Orleans Pelicans this season. They’ll play again on May 7 at the Wells Fargo Center. Last season, they only played each other once due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Sixers won that game, 116-109, but the Pelicans were without one of their superstars, Zion Williamson. (In fact, and I had to look this up, the Sixers have not yet faced Williamson in a regular season game.)
Williamson is having a very good sophomore season for the Pelicans. The former Duke alum is averaging 26.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 46 games playing about 33 minutes per game. Seventy percent of Williamson’s field goals come from within three feet of the basket, so it’s going to be a lunch pail/hard hat kind of night for Joel Embiid.
Brandon Ingram is the primary perimeter scorer for New Orleans, and he is also having a solid 2020-21 season. He is scoring 23.8 points (similar to last season), and his three-point shooting percentages are around the same between this year and last (39.1 last season and 38.6 this season). As an all-around scorer, Ingram has a 59.2 true shooting percentage, so the other Duke alum can hurt you from anywhere.
(Good thing Ben Simmons has cemented himself as an all-world defender since the time both were drafted in 2016.)
The Pelicans lost to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night by 28 in Brooklyn. New Orleans was without Ingram again for the fifth straight night while he recovers from a foot injury. Williamson had 16 and Eric Bledsoe scored 26 in Ingram’s absence.
New Orleans is in the top 10 of the NBA, offensively. The Pelicans are sixth in points per game (114.9) and eighth in offensive rating (115.4), although they don’t really shoot well from deep (23rd in made threes per game). Where they get hurt is defensively.
After 51 games, the Pelicans are at the bottom of the league in opponent points per game (115.5 for 27th in the NBA) and opponent offensive rating (116.1 for 28th). Where the Sixers can really hurt them is from deep, since the Pelicans are not good at defending the perimeter. They are the worst in the league at defending the three-pointer, allowing an almost 40 percent clip to their opponents. It should be a “bombah” type of night for Seth Curry (shooting 41.6 percent from three) and Danny Green (shooting 41.5 percent from three).
At the time of this preview going up, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Kira Lewis are all game time decisions for the Pelicans. Josh Hart and Nickeil Walker-Alexander are out for the game. George Hill remains out for the Sixers.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. New Orleans Pelicans
When: 8:00pm ET, Friday, April 9
Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic