The Philadelphia 76ers currently find themselves at 26-18, just 2.5 games behind the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Currently in the midst of an unintimidating portion of their schedule, the Sixers will look to continue gaining ground tonight at home against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers are 22-24 on the season, very respectable considering Kawhi Leonard has been out for the entire season and Paul George has only played 26 games. George is currently unavailable due to a torn UCL in his right elbow. Los Angeles is coming off a tough 130-128 overtime loss to Denver Wednesday night, victimized by a 49-point triple-double from Nikola Jokic. Unfortunately for the Clippers, there will be no rest for their frontcourt, as they’ll go straight from trying and failing to slow down the best center in the West, to facing the best in the East.
Joel Embiid is coming off arguably the greatest performance of his career, 50 points in 27 minutes against the Orlando Magic, the 9th-highest point-per-minute game ever, per StatMuse (Klay at the two and three spots, phew). There are some obvious, glaring holes in this Sixers roster - largely due to their highest-paid player vacillating between OK and terrible for much of the season, and the second-highest paid player exclusively playing games that require a headset this year. However, Embiid has spackled over those holes and lifted this team up in spite of everything, anchoring the defense, morphing into the team’s main facilitator offensively, and becoming a true three-level scorer with more in his bag than Hermoine Granger.
A rational part of me understands why Daryl Morey wants to exercise patience and maximize the return in a Ben Simmons trade, even if it drags out to the summer. But another emotional part of me watches Joel Embiid do everything humanly possible on a basketball court and wants to scream, “For the love of all things holy, Daryl, get this man some help!”
In terms of tonight’s game, in addition to the two Clippers stars, Nic Batum (health and safety protocols) and Marcus Morris (personal reasons) are both questionable. The Sixers will be thin on the perimeter again with Matisse Thybulle (shoulder), Danny Green (hip), and Shake Milton (back) all out, and Seth Curry questionable due to left ankle soreness.
This is the first meeting between these clubs this season. Would I be shocked if Reggie Jackson and Amir Coffey combine for 50 points and the Clippers pull off the upset? No, I’ve watched the Sixers for too long to dismiss that possibility. But current odds have Philadelphia favored by 8.0 points. Let’s watch the Sixers handle their business, thanks in large part to the continued greatness of Joel Hans Embiid.
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