Preview: 76ers eye a bounce-back win against the struggling San Antonio Spurs
The Philadelphia 76ers are back in action tonight after suffering an embarrassing loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday. Although we try to forget, blowing a 24-point lead against the Clippers brought back memories the Atlanta Hawks series last June, specifically game five when the 76ers blew a 22-point lead midway through the third quarter. Tonight, the Sixers can erase Friday’s game with a bounce-back win against the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs enter tonight 12 games under .500 and have already lost to the Sixers in South Philly earlier this month. San Antonio’s 17-29 record is good for third-worst in the Western Conference, ahead of only the Thunder and Rockets.
The Philadelphia 76ers were in the race for a top seed in the East prior to dropping two of their last three. Now, the Sixers currently hold the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference standings with a 26-19 record. With how tight the top seven spots in the Eastern Conference are, Philly is still very much in the conversation for any seed from three to seven.
When these two teams first met the Spurs had their fair share of injury and COVID issues. It got bad enough that San Antonio had to sign Tyler Johnson to a hardship contract earlier that week after his deal with the 76ers expired. Now in their final matchup of the season against the 76ers, the Spurs will enter tonight with no players on the injury report.
The 76ers are anything but healthy for this contest. To start, Seth Curry will miss his second straight game tonight with that lingering ankle issue he’s been nursing all season. Danny Green is still out with the hip injury he sustained last week, and the same goes for Matisse Thybulle and his shoulder sprain that has yet to be reevaluated. Finally, Shake Milton hasn’t officially been ruled out for tonight’s game in San Antonio, but has yet to play for the 76ers since January 3rd with his back injury.
Joel Embiid MVP Check
In case you missed Friday night’s game against the Clippers, Joel Embiid put out another MVP performance. Joel finished the night with 40 points, 13 rebounds and six assists while shooting 15-of-25 from the field, including knocking down all three of his shots from deep. In his last thirteen games Embiid has scored 30+ points in all but one contest.
That stretch of games includes Joel’s third-career triple-double, and the 76ers have a 10-3 record during that span. What really stands out to me is the efficiency Embiid is showing during these games. His performance against the Magic will be forever sealed in the NBA record books after Joel scored 50 points in just 27 minutes on the court. Joel Embiid has become so efficient during this dominant stretch that since 2022 began, he’s averaged more points than minutes played.
Someone Help Embiid, Please
We are literally begging. With Joel Embiid playing like the best player in the world during these last dozen-or-so games, why has Philly dropped three games?
The supporting cast.
Take the loss on MLK day to the Wizards as a prime example. While Joel wasn’t as efficient from the field he was still able to grab himself 32 points and eight boards in the loss. What really stung was the combined 15 points from Tobias Harris and Seth Curry on 7-of-20 shooting.
Not clear enough? Look no further than the Clippers game last Friday. Joel goes off for 40 points, but the rest of the Sixers starting five could only score 47 points as a unit. Now was some of that due to the fact Philly had to start both Furkan Korkmaz and Isiah Joe? Yes. However that still doesn’t take away from the fact that if the Sixers want to win games it cannot be all Joel Embiid on the offensive end.
Tonight’s odds brought to you by Parx Sportsbook, the official gambling partner of The Liberty Line.
|Philadelphia 76ers||-1.5 (-109)||-120||O 221.5 (-112)|
|San Antonio Spurs||+1.5 (-112)||+100||U 221.5 (-109)|
While Parx certainly seems to be taking the plethora of 76ers injuries into account for this contest, I’m going to keep my woeful optimism in the Sixers on this one.
Listen, Philly hasn’t dropped back to back games since December 16th, 2021 and I don’t think they’ll start here against one of the weaker opponents of the West.
A team with Joel Embiid playing the way he is shouldn’t be giving a measly one-and-a-half against a Spurs team 12 games in the negative.
Mandatory Credit: Tim Nwachukwu.