The Sixers will be shorthanded once again with Joel Embiid still out due to an ankle sprain as well as Nico Batum remaining out with a hamstring strain. It will likely remain Paul Reed who steps into the void left by Embiid. Reed had a great game in that role on Wednesday’s win over the Orlando Magic, putting up 15 points with 10 rebounds, three blocks and a steal. If he can keep his fouls down, he can probably do even better.
These games without Embiid are a continued test for the Sixers and their depth, with a lot of the pressure falling on the shoulders of rising star Tyrese Maxey. After a career-worst performance on Christmas Day, Maxey got back on track Wednesday night to help lead the Sixers to their first win of the season without Embiid. It was a well-rounded effort from the Sixers against the Magic, something they’re going to need to continue to remain competitive without Embiid.
The Rockets are going be shorthanded as well, however. They will be without Victor Oladipo (knee surgery), Dillon Brooks (oblique strain) and Jabari Smith Jr. (ankle). Oladipo has yet to play this season, but Brooks and Smith are averaging 13.6 and 13.7 points per game respectively.
Houston is coming off two back-to-back losses at home in the past week, but they’re headed in the right direction overall after posting a dreadful 22-60 record last season. Under new head coach Ime Udoka, the combination of young 21-year-old center Alperen Sengun and league veteran Fred VanFleet have the Rockets on steadier footing this year at 15-14 to start the season. Not great, but better. With Embiid out, the 6-foot-11 Sengun has the potential to do some serious damage against the Sixers if Reed isn’t solid defensively.
The Sixers will look to make it two in a row in the win column without their leader and the league’s reigning MVP when they tip off with the Rockets at 8 p.m. ET on Friday.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Houston Rockets
When: 8:00 PM ET
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic