The Sixers will look to carry the momentum of three straight blowout victories into tonight’s matchup with the Spurs as the season winds down.
Now riding a three-game winning streak in which each game was won by an average of just over 32 points per game, the Sixers look to remain hot tonight. Even considering the matchups were with the injury-ridden Atlanta Hawks and tanking OKC Thunder, the Sixers made a statement in these dominant victories. Ben Simmons spoke about the team’s goal to win all nine remaining games in order to have their best chance at regaining the first seed. That quest will continue with tonight’s matchup against the San Antonio Spurs.
San Antonio Spurs
While they are a far cry away from the talented Spurs team people has become the norm, this will still likely be a tougher matchup than the Sixers’ previous three matchups. The Spurs are 31-31 on the season and sit at tenth place in the Western Conference. They average 111.2 points per game and are a team that looks to push the pace- ranking seventh in the league in fast-break points per game.
DeMar DeRozan leads San Antonio; the four-time all-star averages 21.7 points and a career-high 7.4 assists per game. The Spurs’ roster is made up of several lengthy and athletic wing-type players that can create matchup issues. Reading PA native Lonnie Walker IV is one of these players as he stands 6’4 with a 6’10 wingspan and 40 inch vertical. Walker is averaging 11.1 points per game and provides a nice energy boost for the Spurs off the bench.
The Sixers will have some luck in avoiding the full San Antonio roster. The most noteworthy player on the Spurs Injury report is Dejounte Murray. The 6’4 guard is listed as questionable due to a knee injury and will likely be a game-time decision in this matchup. Murray often serves as the primary ball-handler during most of his time on the court and is averging 15.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game. If he is unable to go, expect an increase in playing time for Patty Mills- who leads the team with 2.5 three-pointers made per game.
The Spurs will also be without Trey Lyles and Derrick White in tonight’s matchup. Lyles has been out since March 24th with an ankle sprain, and no timetable has been set for his return. The 25-year-old has only been active for 23 games this season due to injuries. The Spurs will also miss the career-high 15.4 points per game that Derrick White typically provides for the team. White also sprained his ankle, but it appears to be a more serious injury, and he is not expected to return this season.
It once again seems like the Sixers will have their full roster available. This will be the 27th game this season with the regular starting lineup, and after the recent Hawks victory, the record has improved to 22-4 when this is the case. On the season as a whole, the lineup of Simmons, Curry, Green, Harris, and Embiid is outscoring opposing lineups by 14 points per 100 possessions.
Mike Scott is the only Sixer whose status is somewhat up in the air as he continues to battle a hip injury. Scott missed the matchup with the Hawks on Wednesday but was able to suit up on Friday. He seems likely to be available today, but it is also important to note that the Sixers recently announced they have signed Anthony Tolliver for the remainder of the season. Tolliver will provide more depth at power forward and provide some competition for Mike Scott at this position.
Outlook for Sixers:
One thing that separates good teams from great teams is simply winning the games they are supposed to win. There has been huge growth in the Sixers in this area this season, and tonight will be another chance for them to prove this. With nine games to go, the Sixers must keep their foot on the gas and continue riding the momentum that they have built.
Today is a valuable chance to take back control of first-place as the Nets face a tough matchup with the Bucks. The Portland Trail Blazers were able to knock off the Nets in the previous game, which cut the lead to a half-game for the Nets. Giannis will be back for the Bucks, which will make it a tough matchup, but it is important to note that Kevin Durant will be back in the lineup for Brooklyn.
That game will tip off at 3:30 PM, so the Sixers are sure to be well aware of the situation ahead of their 8:00 PM start time. The Spurs are still fighting to lock up their spot in the play-in tournament, so expect them to bring their best effort. The Sixers are listed as 6 point favorites heading into the matchup and will try to take control of this game early on. The team has been able to put teams away early and give their starters a rest, so the hope is for that trend to continue tonight.