Preview: Sixers look for second straight win, will host the Toronto Raptors tonight at The Well
The Philadelphia 76ers will host the Toronto Raptors tonight at The Well, looking for their second straight win after beating the Dallas Mavericks in South Philly on Wednesday night.
The Sixers will enter tonight locked in the third seed in the Eastern Conference standings, 2.5 games behind the Boston Celtics and 4.5 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks in first.
Schedule Note: The Sixers will play Bucks on Sunday in Milwaukee before returning home to play the Celtics on Tuesday.
Joel Embiid and James Harden returned to the lineup on Wednesday night and snapped a three-game losing streak to the Dallas Mavericks. The win marked their 50th of the 2022-23 regular season with six games left until the playoffs.
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Joel Embiid led the Sixers in scoring with 25 points on 8-of-17 shooting from the floor. He added nine rebounds, three assists, a steal, and one signature block against Luka Doncic to seal the victory.
Harden was sluggish to start, but finished with 15 points on a dismal 4-of-14 shooting from the floor to go along with 12 assists, four rebounds, and three steals. Tyrese Maxey scored 22 points of 6-of-13 shooting from the floor, connecting on 4-of-9 from beyond the arc.
After Wednesday night’s game, James Harden spoke with the media and revealed that his sore left Achilles has been “bothering him for months”
James Harden on Achilles Injury via Kyle Neubeck
“I don’t know where it came from. It’s been bothering me for some months, I would say,” Harden said Wednesday. “I just wanted to continue to play on it, and there was one point to where the last game I played, [it was] just really unbearable so I couldn’t even go out there. Six games left to finish the season off, finish off strong, then we get another week to prepare. I felt like tonight was the game to come back.”
“After the game, I went into the weight room and did some tendon-loading and things like that, for the Achilles, my lower body, my calves, things like that,” Harden said Wednesday. “Tomorrow I’ll do something, after the game Friday I’ll do something, it’s just [constantly] making sure I’m on it.”
Harden did mention “after the game on Friday” which could indicate that he wants to continue to play through whatever pain he’s feeling, but if I were the Sixers, I would be overly cautious with Harden (and Embiid) tonight against the Raptors and focus on the next two games against the Bucks and Celtics.
We’ll have to see what the always reliable coaching staff decides to do tonight. I’m sure they don’t want another situation where Embiid isn’t playing against the Bucks and/or Celtics after what happened in Denver last Monday.
Regardless, Joel Embiid has made it very clear that “championships are all that matters” so we’ll see how Doc Rivers and company manage the final six games before the playoffs.
As for the Toronto Raptors, they have won three straight games and are basically a lock to make the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament. The Raptors are currently ninth in the Eastern Conference standings, holding a four-game lead over the Washington Wizards with four games left to play on their regular season schedule.
Toronto is three games back of the sixth-place Brooklyn Nets and tied with the eighth-place Atlanta Hawks. They remain 1.5 games back of the seventh-place Heat after beating Miami on Tuesday night.
On the season, the Sixers are 2-1 against the Raptors after splitting games in Toronto back in October and winning at home in overtime in mid-December.
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Mandatory Credit: (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)