What to Watch: Sixers v. Pacers
After a shocking loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday, the Sixers are hoping to return to form against the Indiana Pacers tonight. The Pacers are currently just outside the playoff picture in ninth place with a 15-17 record. Philly could be even more short-handed than they were on Friday, with Joel Embiid listed as questionable with ankle soreness. Here are three things to watch for tonight:
Joel’s replacement in the starting five:
Joel rolled his ankle during the middle of Saturday’s game but played through it, finishing with a dominant 42 points and 13 rebounds in the loss. If Embiid sits out, it will likely be Tony Bradley taking his place in the starting lineup. Doc Rivers has gone to Ben Simmons as the big man alongside Mike Scott before, but it doesn’t seem likely with the Pacers’ tall lineup.
Bradley hasn’t gotten that much game time in the last month, playing just ten minutes in all of February. In the extended time he has played in the past, Tony has shown promise and could be a long-term backup for Joel Embiid. Another interesting note is if the Sixers are looking to make a move, starting Bradley shows other teams what they would be getting in the young center.
Tyrese Maxey finding minutes:
Over the last four games, Tyrese Maxey has seemed to fall out of the rotation with Shake Milton’s return and a decline in play. With Tobias Harris and possibly Joel Embiid tonight, Doc could turn to Maxey for extended minutes off the bench. When Tyrese was on his hot streak early this season, he was fantastic but has since fallen towards the mean of what is expected of the rookie.
Hopefully, with some extended play tonight, he can find that magic again and help bolster a currently weak 76ers bench. The last several games have been unimpressive off the bench as a group, and nobody has been able to be a consistent scorer from the unit. Philly could be without Furkan Korkmaz off the bench once again and Isaiah Joe has left for the G-League bubble. Maxey finding his groove again would do wonders for the team
Will Ben Simmons’ hot streak continue?
While Joel Embiid was cold from the field for a few games until Cleveland, Ben Simmons was fantastic on offense. Over his last five games, Simmons has averaged over 24 points per game and doesn’t look to be slowing down at all. Against the Pacers last month, Simmons had 21 points on 9/12 shooting with four steals and two blocks.
If the Sixers are without Joel again tonight, Ben will need to have this level of production once again. His scoring has been incredible, and it is starting to look more and more like it isn’t just a hot streak for Ben.
Tonight is going to be a challenging game if the Sixers are without both Harris and Embiid. They have beaten the Pacers before shorthanded, but this might be too much to overcome. Hopefully, Tony Bradley can fill in nicely if Joel is out for tonight’s game and can help slow down the dominant duo of Myles Turner and Domntas Sabonis.
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