The Sixers will continue their West-Coast trip as they take on the Portland Trail Blazers tonight at 10 pm (EST). The matchup will be lead by two dynamic scorers as Dame Lillard ranks third in the NBA at 29.4 points per game while Joel Embiid sits at 4th with 29.1 points per game.
As 5 and a half point favorites, the Sixers will look to add another notch to the win column as they continue their hot streak. In the past 10 games, the Sixers are 8-2 while averaging 115 points per game. They have continued to develop their defensive identity and in that 10 game stretch are averaging 9.2 steals and 5.6 blocks per game.
Revenge will certainly be in the air for this game as the Sixers were crushed by the shorthanded Blazers just over a week ago. Without Dame Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic, the Blazers cruised to a 121-105 victory.
The Sixers were without Ben Simmons for this matchup and, outside of Joel Embiid, the Sixers seemed very short on energy. Joel played his heart out setting the franchise record for points in a quarter (25) and accounted for 31 of the Sixers’ 57 first-half points.
It also took until the third quarter for any Sixers member to knock down a three-pointer which is something they will look to change tonight. Gary Trent ended with 24 points proving he is a guy who requires constant defensive attention. Carmelo Anthony also proved to have some basketball left in him as he dropped 22 points as well.
This will be the Sixers’ 13th straight game without Mike Scott as he continues to work his way back from his knee injury. Seth Curry is expected to play but is battling through a sprained left ankle. It was a pleasant change to see him return to form for the previous game by adding 22 points and four 3-pointers in the previous game.
Unfortunately, the Sixers will likely be without 6th man, Shake Milton, and the 14 points per game that he provides. Shake rolled his ankle in the last game. The ankle injury does not appear serious but after being forced to the locker room on back-to-back games it makes sense to give the young guard a night off.
The Blazers will be with Dame Lillard for this matchup but as a whole, their roster remains banged up. They will be without Dame’s co-host in CJ McCollum for tonight’s matchup once again. Portland will also remain without Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins who are both will continue to be missed as big man presences. Nassir Little also remains out with a knee injury.
Keys for Sixers
The biggest key for the Sixers is to find scoring outside of Joel Embiid. Joel will continue to be their rock on both sides of the floor, but he cannot be responsible for fully carrying the weight of the roster. Finding a more well-balanced attack is key toward being able to rest him and giving the team a chance to put this game away.
This should not be a tactic used every game, but this may be a matchup where it could be useful to unleash Matisse Thybulle. Just as was seen when guarding De’Aaron Fox, Thybulle is able to clamp upon the opposing team’s number one option and allow the other 4 players to match-up accordingly. Matisse is one of just six players in the league with over 30 steals and 15 blocks and has played over 300 fewer minutes than the other 5 names on this list.
Giving Matisse a chance to guard Dame has the potential to change the landscape of the game if necessary. This will continue to be an option for Doc as ‘Tisse really does provide game-changing tempo whenever he steps on the floor.
The Blazers loss is the only game the Sixers have dropped in the past 8 games so look for them to come out ready to avenge that in this one. The Trail Blazers currently sit as the 5th seed in the west with a 13-10 record. This should come as a statement game as the Sixers will continue to prove they are every bit as good as their record shows.
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