Life is good for the Philadelphia 76ers as the Brooklyn Nets dropped another game to the Mavericks last night, making this four straight losses for the team. As a result of this loss, the Sixers’ Eastern Conference lead has been pushed to 2.5 games. With six games left to play, the Sixers are in the driver’s seat to secure their easiest path to the playoffs. This journey will continue tonight in a 7:00 matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans have had a fairly disappointing season and sit at 11th place in the Western Conference. They have a record of 30-36 and are a game and a half out of making the cut for the play-in tournament. Tonight’s matchup with the Sixers is the first of a critical five-game road trip for the Pelicans with their chances at a postseason run quickly shrinking.
- Brandon Ingram– OUT (left ankle sprain)
- Josh Hart– OUT (right thumb surgery)
- Steven Adams– Doubtful (MTP sprain)
- Nickeil Alexander-Walker – Questionable (left ankle sprain)
The most notable name on the list is Brandon Ingram who averages 23.8 points, 4.9 assists, and 4.9 rebounds. This will be the first game Ingram misses as the injury occurred in the previous matchup with the Warriors. This will be the twentieth straight game that Josh Hart will miss due to his thumb injury. The Villanova alum has averaged 9.2 points and 8 rebounds this year but is likely to miss the rest of the season recovering from surgery. Nickeil Alexander-Walker has not played since April 4th but was upgraded to questionable for tonight’s game.
The Sixers win-streak has now reached six games and this is another extremely winnable game for the team. Stopping Zion Williamson will be priority number one for the Sixers, which is never an easy task. The athletic freak is averaging 27 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists. The Pelicans have given Zion the reigns on offense this season with him even serving as the primary ball-handler for periods of time. Zion will be another name added to the list of superstars that Ben Simmons has been faced with locking up this season.
One of the reasons for the Pelicans’ struggles this season has been the lack of shooting surrounding their superstar. Ranking 27th in three-pointers made and 26th in three-point percentage, the youthful squad has struggled to find consistent perimeter scoring. This could lead the Sixers to pack the paint more to prevent Zion from attacking the rim.
Furkan continues to recover from his ankle sprain that was picked up in the matchup with the Bulls. The appearance of Joel Embiid on the injury report may indicate that this may serve as a rest day for the big fella. It is worth noting that Joel Embiid has now played over 70% of the Sixers games this season which qualifies him to be in the leaders for NBA statistical categories again. As long as Embiid plays in four of the last six games (tonight included), he will make the cut for this.
Outlook for Sixers
The Vegas odds have the line set at 8 points ahead of tonight’s matchup. The line is likely to move depending on the status of Joel Embiid, but this is a game the Sixers should be able to win whether he suits up or not. With the regular season winding down, the priority for the Sixers must be to continue playing their best basketball and ensuring everyone stays healthy. It has been super exciting to see the team hit their stride with everyone back in the lineup and expect that to be put on display again tonight.
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