No more than a week ago all was well in “Sixers world”. They had just blown out the best team on national TV, Joel Embiid had arguably the best defensive performance of his career, and head coach Brett Brown was silencing critics left and right with his defensive gameplan. However, two ugly losses later (against the Magic and Heat) and the 76ers are once again in need of a statement win.
The Sixers stroll into Indianapolis today at 3PM ET looking to “right the ship” as one would call it. The Indiana Pacers too have lost their last two games, and are also still without their franchise star: Victor Oladipo.
As of just less than two hours before tipoff, the Sixers too will be without their franchise star, as Embiid is sitting this one out with left knee soreness (per Serena Winters).
The Pacers are currently 21-12 and sit at 6th place in the Eastern Conference. They rank 18th in points scored per game (108.9) but rank 6th in opponent’s points per game (105.7). With their leading scorer from last season still recovering from injury, head coach Nate McMillan and his squad have relied heavily on their defense to carry them in games.
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Spread Out Scoring
As mentioned previously, the Pacers have been without their go-to scorer all season long. With that in mind, they have turned to an “offense by committee-like” approach in 2019. They have three players averaging just over 17 a game (Sabonis, Brogdon, Warren). While in theory none of these guys should pose as a huge problem to the Philly defense, not allowing either of them to catch fire is a must.
Malcolm Brogdon Returns, Embiid Sits
Former Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon was the Pacers big acquisition this past offseason. After a hot start, the two-way guard has missed a few games due to injury. His absence has played a key role in the Pacers’ struggles as of late. He returns this afternoon against Philly with “no limitations”.
Embiid sitting out appears to have been a last-minute decision of sorts (I would know, seeing as I had to edit this story last minute lol). The Pacers will be gaining one of their top players and the Sixers will be losing theirs, NOT ideal.
How Will Philly Respond?
The Sixers have struggled all year long with “playing down to their opponents”. The Sixers are blatantly a more talented team than the Pacers, they proved it when they thrashed the Bucks on Christmas Day. After two disappointing losses, it’s up to the coaches and players alike to rise to the occasion this afternoon and not start looking ahead to any New Years parties…
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports