Update, 6:30 p.m.: Joel Embiid will play vs. the Hornets Saturday.
The Philadelphia 76ers continue their road trip as they try to extend their win streak to six on Saturday night against the Charlotte Hornets.
Sixers star center Joel Embiid has been listed as questionable for the contest for injury recovery as of Saturday afternoon.
This is the second leg of a back-to-back for the Sixers, which is probably a factor in the questionable status for Embiid. Philadelphia defeated the Orlando Magic last night with Embiid and Tyrese Maxey combining for 68 points in the victory. That being said, Embiid was able to rest the entirety of the fourth with the Sixers holding a comfortable lead, taking some of the sting out of the back-to-back scheduling. Of course, with the knee inflammation that briefly sidelined Embiid just a week or so in the rearview mirror, it’s not a stretch to say the Sixers might want to be careful. We will keep you posted on his status when we know more.
The Hornets are struggling this year to say the least. At 9-30 on the year, they’ve won just three of their last 20 games. One of those few victories came last night with the Hornets defeating the San Antonio Spurs in their first home victory since Dec. 8. LaMelo Ball led the way for Charlotte Friday night with 28 points and eight assists. Ball is just four games back from a 20-game hiatus caused by an ankle injury. When he’s healthy, he’s a crucial asset for the Hornets, averaging 25.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 7.8 assists in his 19 games this season. Unfortunately for Charlotte, that might not be the case tonight, with Ball listed as questionable for Saturday’s contest with ankle soreness.
And if Embiid does play, it’s just going to be an absolute nightmare for Charlotte, as the Hornets may also be without two centers for Saturday. 7-foot Mark Williams is out with a back injury and 7-foot Nick Richards is questionable with an ankle injury. Without them, it’s going to be a monumental struggle to even slow down Embiid.
The Hornets are also still without Gordon Hayward, who has been out with a left calf injury since Dec. 28, and have Bryce McGowens listed as questionable for Saturday as well.
Charlotte was beaten up the last time they met the Sixers back on Dec. 16 and it did not go well for them. The Sixers handed the Hornets their worst loss in franchise history with Embiid posting 42 points on the way to a 135-82 final score. In that game, they were without Ball, Hayward, Williams and reserves P.J. Washington and Cody Martin.
That being said, the Sixers have their fair share of injuries to their depth as well. Just as they were yesterday, De’Anthony Melton, Robert Covington, Mo Bamba and Jaden Springer all remain out. In addition, Patrick Beverley appeared on the injury report today as questionable with an illness.
The biggest keys will be whether Embiid and Ball play for their respective teams. If Embiid plays, there may not be much the Hornets will be able to do to stop him. If Ball doesn’t play, the Sixers may not even need Embiid. With the two leaders of the teams questionable, there are some variables, but the bottom line is that the Sixers are the better team and should be able to leave Charlotte on a six-game win streak.
The Sixers and Hornets will tip off at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Charlotte Hornets
When: 7:00 pm EST
Where: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic