Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers are on the road and down in the birthplace of jazz to face off against the New Orleans…Pelicans.
Ill-fitting names aside, the matchup will be a fun one as the team is welcomed by the ever buoyant Zion Williamson. The Pelicans aren’t at full strength, but even with that being the case, the Sixers can’t assume any wins; they have to fight to make sure they leave tonight with a dub.
George Hill – Out (thumb)
The Sixers’ injury report looks pretty close to empty, and that’s an excellent sight for Philadelphia fans. George Hill is the lone player appearing, and that’s no surprise considering everything the team has said about George so far.
New Orleans Pelicans
Josh Hart – Out (thumb)
Nickeil Alexander-Walker – Out (ankle)
Brandon Ingram – Questionable (toe)
Lonzo Ball – Questionable (hip)
Kira Lewis Jr. – Questionable (calf)
While the Sixers’ injury report is relatively light, the Pelicans’ is anything but unfortunately. It’s not just the amount of players that appear on the list, but the team is possibly missing two of their three best starters. Time will tell whether to not Ingram and/or ball will be able to play, but it wouldn’t be surprising if they’re at least limited.
With all of the injuries, Zion Williamson moves from primary threat to lone threat for the Sixers.
Keys To The Game
Keep Zion Out of the Paint
Zion Williamson is in the midst of a stellar sophomore season. He’s averaging 26.3 points and 7.0 rebounds while shooting 37.5 percent from three and a jaw-dropping 62% from the floor. That number, while impressive, is not overly surprising considering that 73.3% of Zion’s shots come within three feet of the basket.
If the Sixers want any hope of containing Williamson, it starts by guarding the paint. Force him outside, similar to how the team defends Giannis Antetokounmpo. If he has an open three, let him take it. Yes, he is shooting over 37% from three, but that’s only on an average of half an attempt per game. What happens if you try and make him a volume shooter? That’s what the Sixers should find out tonight.
Take All The Threes…All
The Pelicans are the worst team in the league when defending the three; not bottom half, not bottom five, the worst. The Sixers need to take advantage of that and set free shooters like Danny Green and Seth Curry. The entire team should be in on this mentality and try to put the game out of reach early.
New Orleans ranks 30th in the NBA in three-pointers allowed and opponent three-point percentage. While the Sixers rank 27th in the league in threes attempted per game, they should use this game as a stepping stop to try and finally unleash the team’s three-point ability. The Sixers currently rank as the 13th best shooting team from deep.
The Philadelphia 76ers and the New Orleans Pelicans will tip-off tonight at 8:00 PM EST when we will see Joel Embiid and Zion Williamson take each other on for the first time this season. You can watch the game on NBC Sports Philadelphia or listen live as always at 97.5 FM The Fanatic.