Philadelphia 76ers

Game preview: Can Sixers find a way to stop the slump?

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The Sixers are preparing to face the Celtics this evening in a game that probably shouldn’t be happening but is going to anyway. Here is all you need to know.

Minor quibble

The Sixers and Pelicans may have had their game rescheduled, but Adam Silver thought this one is just about good to go despite the fact both teams are seriously struggling for depth.

The Celtics are seven players down thanks to COVID and have nine players healthy for tonight’s matchup. Al Horford and Josh Richardson are among the most notable names sidelined at the moment, with Grant Williams and Jabari Parker joining them and forcing Boston to look elsewhere for minutes off the bench.

As for the Sixers…it’s not pretty. Andre Drummond, Shake Milton, and Georges Niang are all in health and safety protocols. Joel Embiid is questionable after an awkward fall against the Heat, and Tyrese Maxey is nursing a quad contusion. Great.

Both teams took advantage of the NBA’s 10-day hardship contract implementation in a bid to field something that mildly resembles a functioning basketball team, with Boston picking up C.J Miles. We’ll get into more depth on who the Sixers have signed later on.

The game itself

The Sixers have been struggling recently for a number of reasons. They’re riding a three game losing streak and have dropped four of their last five. That huge win against Golden State feels like forever ago and all life has been sucked out of the Wells Fargo Center…and not in a good way.

A rivalry game is always a good opportunity to rekindle the fire, but with both teams tied for the 8th seed in the East, there’s even more weight to it. Jayson Tatum (also questionable) is likely going to be flying solo tonight and doing his best to carry his team to a win, while the Sixers could also be down to bare bones and struggle to stop the bleeding.

For the Sixers to have any chance of winning, they’ll need Tobias Harris to step it up after a horrendous slump. There will be natural emphasis to get the ball into the hands of Seth Curry, but if JoJo is unable to go or ends up playing fewer minutes, then the Sixers are going to have to find a way to get other players involved offensively. Rebounding on the attacking end has been poor and the effort has been lacking. Maybe the idea of a big opportunity for young players to prove their worth will spark the fire that’s desperately needed on this cold winter night.

Help is on the way

The Sixers have three players making the jump up from Delaware to try and negate some of the absences the team are dealing with right now. Paul Reed is renowned for his hustle while UDFA Aaron Henry flashed some nice upside in an October win over the Pelicans, dropping 7 points, registering 4 rebounds and 3 assists.

They’re not the only ones, either…

Hello Mose…I mean, Tyler Johnson

The Sixers signed former UDFA and brother of Dwight Schrute, Tyler Johnson. The former Heat guard has plenty of NBA experience, making 78 starts and playing in 348 total games. He ended up carving a real role for himself in Miami before a trade to the Suns, where his career started to dwindle.

After being lost in the shuffle on a stacked Nets roster last year, Johnson has spent the opening portion of this season floating on the open market. His three point percentage has always been pretty solid, hovering at a career average of 36% only due to the fact that he had two outlying years in Phoenix. Outside of those, he’s been 35%+ every year.

Nobody is expecting the 29-year-old to come in and play 25 minutes while adding a ton of offensive value. But given that the Sixers have very few alternatives, it will be interesting to see if some time away and a fresh challenge will be exactly what the Doctor ordered.

If not, I guess it “beets” staying at home. Sorry.

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

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Liam is a 25-year old sports journalist from the UK and founder of the Philly Sports Network. In just five years he turned a hobby into one of the fastest-growing Philadelphia sports sites in the world, amassing 7,000,000 views and writing over 3,000 articles. Drawing attention from the likes of CSN, NJ.Com and Bleacher Report in the process, Liam is set on changing the way Philadelphia sports teams are reported on forever.

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