What to Watch: The Process returns to action against the Minnesota Timberwolves
Finally after a ten-game absence, The Process returns tonight to face the Minnesota Timberwolves in Philadelphia. The Sixers are fresh off a brutal six-game road trip that included the Lakers, Clippers, and Nuggets but were able to win four of the six games and currently sit a half-game behind the Brooklyn Nets for first place in the Eastern Conference. Ahead of tonight, here are three things to keep your eyes on against the Wolves.
Bad blood once again?
When Minnesota traveled to Philly back in 2019, emotions got the best of both teams star centers. Halfway through the third quarter, Karl-Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid were throwing each other to the ground in a fight that ended up having both players ejected from the game.
Flash forward nearly two years later, and the two teams have played each other just once since, but Minnesota was without Towns during the matchup. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail this time around, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Joel continues to antagonize KAT.
Shake Milton finding his groove:
Shake Milton has had quite the up and down season. During the first few games of the season, Milton looked to be a Sixth Man of the Year candidate but regressed into a horrid slump for a decent period. Against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday, Shake exploded for 27 points off the bench for Philly and was a crucial piece in their 114-94 victory over the Cavs.
Last night’s victory was Milton’s third game over the previous two weeks where he scored over 20 points, only having this one other time this season. Until new acquisition George Hill is healthy shortly, the Sixers will need Shake to have these efficient nights off the bench.
Can Ben Simmons break his cold spell?
Although he has been very productive in other facets of his game, Ben Simmons scoring took a slight dip during this road trip. Over the last six games, Simmons struggled on offense, especially last night against the Cavs, shooting just 2-11. I heavily doubt this is a long-term issue. This cold spell was likely just a combination of a challenging road trip and trying to nurse a knee that has been bothering him during Joel’s absence. Hopefully, with Embiid’s return, the pressure will be off of Simmons a bit, and he can bounce back to where he was just a few weeks ago.
With or without Joel, this shouldn’t be a challenging matchup for the Sixers. The Timberwolves are the worst team in the NBA with a record of 12-37 despite the core of Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and Anthony Edwards. The Sixers will need every win they can get before having a stretch that includes the Nets, Clippers, Suns, and the Bucks twice in the coming weeks.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports