Update, 8:51 p.m.: Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey have been ruled out Monday night in Portland.
Heading on the road for Monday’s game, the Sixers are up against an opponent at the other end of the standings, facing the 13-33 Portland Trail Blazers.
It could be another very short-handed affair for the Sixers, though. Robert Covington (left knee bone bruise) and Melton (lumbar spine stress response) remain out. Meanwhile, Embiid (left knee soreness), Maxey (left ankle sprain) and Harris (illness) are all listed as questionable.
As they’ve started their post Damian Lillard era, the Blazers have reset with a younger, new-look squad. And as you’d expect, they’ve hardly been competitive at 14th place in the Western Conference with the league’s worst-ranked offense.
Scoot Henderson, the Blazers’ third overall pick in last year’s draft, has had his fair share of rookie struggles this season and his efficiency in particular has been poor. He’s shot just 36.6 percent from the floor including only 40.2 percent on twos, and has posed no threat from three with limited attempts at a 29.4 percent clip. However, after a more disappointing start to the season, Henderson has been picking up his play somewhat lately. He’s making better use of his driving ability and elite speed with an average of 13.2 points per game since Christmas compared to 10.8 per game before then (although the efficiency is still lacking with 36.6/33.8/76.2 shooting splits). That said, Henderson is coming off a quiet four-point night on Sunday against Chicago.
After a couple of stretches in the starting five, Henderson’s currently coming off the bench. He’s joined in the second unit by former Sixer guard Matisse Thybulle, who’s playing the second-most minutes of his career and snatching 1.6 steals in his 22.8 minutes per game.
Anfernee Simons has been having an excellent season, and will be the main test for Maxey and Patrick Beverley. Simons is averaging career-highs of 23.2 points and 5.2 assists per game, and continues to thrive as a high-volume shooter. Just under half his shots come from three-point range, where he’s gunning with 8.7 attempts a game and making an efficient 39.2 percent of them.
Meanwhile, Deandre Ayton has never been able to do much to bother Embiid. With the reigning MVP overwhelming any team he plays right now, it shouldn’t be too hard for him to turn the tide towards a win in this one if he’s available.
The Blazers are coming into this matchup with less rest, too. They’re playing on the second night of a back-to-back after a 104-96 loss to the Bulls in Portland on Sunday.
Even though the Sixers remain shorthanded, their supporting cast showed what they can do at the weekend in Denver. Bouncing back against a bad Blazers team to start the new week with a win should be possible, at least if one of their questionable stars returns to help lead the way.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Portland Trailblazers
When: 10:00 pm EST
Where: Moda Center, Portland, OR
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic