What to Watch as Sixers Look to Prevent Rockets Liftoff

NBA: MAR 01 76ers at Clippers
LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 01: Philadelphia 76ers Forward Tobias Harris (12) looks on during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Clippers on March 1, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

The Sixers return to play tonight in a matchup against John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, and the Houston Rockets at 7:30 PM EST.

This will be the team’s first matchup since their west-coast trip, and they will look to break the three-game losing streak they currently find themselves in.

This will be the first time these teams matchup this season as the Rockets hold an 11-16 record and sit at 13th place in the Western Conference. Led by John Wall, who is averaging 20 points per game for H-town, the Rockets come into Philly following a 131-119 loss to the Washington Wizards.

Injuries

Sixers

The Sixers will continue to be without Shake Milton, who remains out with a sprained ankle.

The absence of his 14 points per game off the bench has significantly been felt for the Sixers. Without Shake, the lack of bench production has become a real concern for this team. There has still been no set timetable for the 6th man’s return. If the increase in workload in practice and warm-ups is any indication, Milton should be returning to the team relatively soon.

Despite being a late scratch in the previous game, Joel Embiid is listed as probable for this matchup. It seems the decision to sit him out of the matchup against the Utah Jazz boiled mainly down to load management. However, Doc Rivers being unaware that Embiid was out in his pregame media availability raises concerns about communication and transparency throughout the organization.

Keeping Joel Embiid healthy as the season continues on must remain the number one priority of the Sixers organization. The big man missing a few games, here or there, is a small price to pay for that. Look for Joel to be back to his dominant self tonight, with DeMarcus Cousins likely to take the first stab at guarding the future-MVP.

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Rockets

The Rockets will be without their full roster as they head to Philly today. Victor Oladipo (foot) and Eric Gordon (groin) are both listed as doubtful after missing Monday’s game.

The Rockets will be without their full roster as they head to Philly today. Victor Oladipo (foot) and Eric Gordon (groin) are both listed as doubtful after missing Monday’s game.

This duo average 19.1 and 18.8 points per game, respectively, so it is a major deal that the Rockets will not have them. The team will also be without most-improved candidate Chrisitan Wood who has been held out recently due to an ankle injury.

This has been crippling for the Rockets as they had won 7 of 8 with Wood in the lineup prior to his injury. On the year overall, Wood is averaging. 22 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.

PJ Tucker is also listed as questionable due to a quad contusion. The Rockets will also continue to be without Dante Exum, and Ray Spalding is also questionable to play.

Sixers Keys to Victory:

This game is a major chance for the Sixers to get back on track after falling in the loss column on 3 straight matchups. The Sixers are a significantly better basketball team than the Rockets’ post-Harden era, and look for them to make that clear here.

It is also relevant to note that Houston is 0-5 in their last 5 games and have lost by an average of 19 points, so look for the Sixers look to be the next team adding to this trend.

Joel Embiid’s impact should be felt on the game right away, and hope for Ben Simmons to continue to ride the hot streak of the career-high 42 points, 12 assists, and 9 rebounds he produced in the previous game.

The Sixers must also find production in the bench as they were outscored 57-25 in bench points in their previous matchup. There must also be an emphasis on scoring beyond the three-point arc as this is quickly developing into an area of concern for the team.

This is a valuable game for the Sixers. They look to produce a victory in the dominant fashion that they have been missing in recent games. Expect this to serve as a statement game for Doc Rivers and the rest of the squad.

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