Philadelphia 76ers

76ers Look To Squash Shorthanded Hornets

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Following a much-needed victory over the Hawks, the Philadelphia 76ers will be back in action against the Charlette Hornets. Philly will likely be at full strength, which is a positive change for the team. Outside of Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris is the only Sixer on the injury report as he is questionable after missing the previous game with a non-Covid illness. With a record of 12-11, the Sixers sit at 9th place in the Eastern Conference, heading into back-to-back matchups with the Hornets as they look to pick up some momentum.

For the first time in seemingly forever, the Sixers are not the team getting the short-end of the Covid protocol stick. The Hornets are 13-11 on the season and have shown some extremely impressive flashes. Unfortunately for them, it was announced that there is some sort of Covid outbreak on the team, causing multiple players to miss time.

These are noteworthy roster issues for the Hornets, especially that they will be without the impressive backcourt of LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier. LaMelo is averaging 20 points, 8.3 assists, and 7.7 rebounds while shooting 39.1% from beyond the three-point arc. Terry Rozier also averages 17.7 points of his own.

Even without this duo, the Hornets should not be taken lightly. They are coming off a 130-127 win over the Atlanta Hawks last night. Miles Bridges exploded for 32 points, while Kelly Oubre Jr also poured in six three-pointers and 28 total points. Bridges has taken a massive leap this year and is averaging 19.9 points per game for Charlotte.

76ers Outlook

The Sixers face the Hornets in back-to-back matchups in their next five games before squaring up with the Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, and Brooklyn Nets. With some difficult games on the horizon, the Sixers must capitalize on these matchups to ensure they keep a winning record. Philly currently holds a record of 12-11 and rank 9th in the Eastern Conference. With the roster returning to full health, it is time to build some momentum and get back to the success they showed at the start of the season.

Especially without Mason Plumlee, the Hornets are extremely thin in the paint. Nick Richards started at center last night but played just 7 minutes in the game. Rookie JT Thor put in 12 minutes off the bench, but the Hornets primarily chose to play a small-ball lineup. Their defense gave the Hawks some problems as they showcased several long, athletic wing-style players that were able to switch on everything.

It should go without saying, but the Sixers must play through Joel Embiid. While Embiid’s struggles so far this season are somewhat overstated, it is clear he has not played up to his potential. Much of this has been a result of the offense as there has been far too much “Hero Ball,” where the rest of the team stands around as Embiid attempts to create in isolation.

The Sixers did a much better job being creative in his usage in the previous victory, which provided him with some of his easiest points of the season. Continuing to build off this effort is essential to the team’s improvement as the season progresses.

The Sixers enter the game as seven-point favorites, but it is worth noting that both these games will be played in Charlotte. The shorthanded roster is certainly an advantage in the Sixers’ favor, but this is not a matchup that can be taken lightly. It is the stage in the season where the contenders and pretenders are beginning to separate, and the Sixers must make sure they end up in the category they desire.

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Lead Sixers Writer for Philly Sports Network and Co-host of the Pick Swap Podcast. Trust the Process

Twitter: @Sean_Barnard1 and @PickSwapPod


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