Update; 9:35 p.m.: Joel Embiid will make his return to the lineup. Nicolas Batum and Marcus Morris, Sr. have been ruled out.
The top storyline for the Philadelphia 76ers continues to be the injuries currently ravaging the lineup from top to bottom.
The Sixers’ star dynamic duo of Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey both have missed the past two games, and it’s been a rough go without them. Last night saw the Sixers fall to 0-3 to start this five-game road trip against a struggling 14-win Portland Trail Blazers team. Philadelphia did get back Tobias Harris for that Monday matchup, but with him still not looking 100 percent, it wasn’t much of an improvement.
Tonight at the Golden State Warriors might not be much better for the Sixers. Maxey has been ruled out for the contest and Embiid is expected to be questionable and a game-time decision, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Sixers star Joel Embiid (left knee) will be listed as a questionable vs. Warriors tonight, source tells ESPN. He’s expected to go through pregame warmup and decide if he can play.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 30, 2024
Tyrese Maxey will remain out, per source.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 30, 2024
The Sixers have lost two straight with the duo both sidelined. Losing Maxey will leave Patrick Beverley in his spot to command the offense, something he’s actually done a decent job at in these recent opportunities. Not discounting being without Maxey by any means, it’s just that Pat Bev has done alright holding down that fort. Being without Embiid on top of it, however... well, we’ve seen how it can go.
Think of it this way. If Embiid plays and isn’t in constant pain hampering him down, the Sixers have a decent chance to snag the win. If Embiid doesn’t play, the rest of the squad has to be at the level of play we saw from the hospital lineup in their near-victory over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. It cannot be what we saw last night vs. Portland.
And the Warriors are desperate to snag a win. They’re coming off of two consecutive one-point losses to the Los Angeles Lakers this past Saturday and the Sacramento Kings last Thursday. That’s been the theme of the season for the 19-24 Warriors, who have repeatedly fallen victim to blown leads and close defeats and now sit 12th in the Western Conference.
That’s not to say they don’t have weapons, however. The most obvious of which is Steph Curry. At 35 years old Curry is averaging 27.3 points per game and shooting 40.3 percent from beyond the arc sinking 4.7 triples per game. He’s firing off 11.6 attempts from long range per game, so the potential to absolutely cook the Sixers’ perimeter defense is not out of the question.
The other key star for the Warriors is Klay Thompson. Thompson’s point production has been a little up and down from game-to-game but regardless he’s averaging 17.6 points per contest. And don’t discount the contributions of Draymond Green, who has notched 11 assists in each of the Warriors’ past two games and is a constant staple of the Golden State defense.
Upsides for the Sixers are that the Warriors aren’t a very defensively impressive team, ranked 24th in defensive rating (117.9), and that Embiid will have a decent size advantage over anyone on their roster if he is able to go ahead and play.
The Sixers are, when healthy, simply the better team in this matchup. That being said, “Sixers” and “healthy” hasn’t exactly been the story the past few weeks. The Warriors are also coming off a few days rest having not played since Saturday. The Sixers, on the other hand, are on the second half of a back-to-back in addition to being depleted by injuries. What could go wrong?
The Sixers and Warriors tip off at 10 p.m. ET.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers at Golden State Warriors
When: 10:00 pm EST
Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, CA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBATV
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic