What to watch: 76ers-Grizzlies preview
After a dominant win against the Miami Heat on Thursday, the Sixers are back in action tonight at 8 PM as they face Memphis Grizzlies on the road. The Sixers were able to stop a three-game skid as they defeated the Miami heat in back-to-back games at home to improve to 9-4 on the season. They are currently in second place in the Eastern Conference behind the Boston Celtics.
The Grizzlies are coming off a 118-107 victory against the Timberwolves on Wednesday and are currently 5-6 on the season. The Grizzlies had their game postponed Friday night due to several members on the Wolves being ruled out due to contact tracing following a positive COVID test.
The Sixers will look to win three straight games tonight vs the Grizzlies. Here’s what to keep an eye on tonight.
After suffering an ankle sprain on December 28th vs the Brooklyn Nets, Ja Morant was sidelined for the last three weeks. He’s currently questionable for tonight’s game. In the brief action that Morant had this year, he was dominant. Morant scored 44 points on 67% shooting opening night against the Spurs.
The 2020 Rookie of the Year winner is known for his athleticism inside the paint. With tonight possibly being his first game back from injury, I would expect Memphis to keep their young superstar on a minute restriction and slowly bring him back up to speed.
Dwight Howard’s Foul Troubles
Dwight Howard has been extremely valuable coming off the bench behind Joel Embiid. Averaging 16 minutes a game, Howard has been putting up seven points and seven boards a game. Joel Embiid will be getting some rest this weekend and Howard will have to start his third game of the year. The major concern with Dwight is his high foul rate. Currently, Howard is averaging 3.3 fouls off the bench.
Tonight, Howard will be tasked with defending Jonas Valančiūnas. Jonas is averaging 15 points this season and fresh off a 24 point showing against the Timberwolves. If Dwight gets in foul trouble, it would likely spell trouble for Tony Bradley or Vincent Poirier.
Sixers Without Embiid
The 76ers most disappointing loss this season was their second game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Doc decided to rest Joel on the second half of a back to back and without him, the team looked lost.
Over the last few years, games like tonight have killed the 76ers. Hopefully, after the Cleveland loss, Doc has gotten a hold of his team to not let that occur again. With all of the negativity around Ben recently, even after his triple-double the other night, this is the perfect game for him to explode.
If the Sixers come out of the gate swinging tonight, this game shouldn’t even be close. Even without Joel Embiid and Seth Curry the emergence of the Sixers bench provides this team enough offensive firepower to hold their own against any mid-level team in the NBA.
The major question will be if they come to play, and that attitude will determine if the Sixers have their 10th win by the end of the night.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images