The Philadelphia 76ers (26-18) look to take on the Los Angeles Clippers (22-24) Friday at the Wells Fargo Center. After coming off a monstrous Joel Embiid performance against the last-place Orlando Magic Wednesday night, the Sixers look to add to that momentum to start gaining traction in the Eastern Conference.
Currently, they sit in 5th with only a half-game behind the Milwaukee Bucks and 2.5 games behind first place. This is an attainable goal for the Sixers, seeing how their schedule is going forward, but with some big matchups like the Grizzlies, Bulls, and Suns approaching, every win matters.
Matisse Thybulle: Out (Shoulder)
Shake Milton: Out (Back)
Danny Green: Out (Hip)
Seth Curry: Questionable (Ankle)
Ben Simmons: Out (Personal)
Los Angeles Clippers
Paul George: Out (Elbow)
Nicolas Batum (COVID-19 Protocols)
Marcus Morris Sr.: Questionable (Personal)
Jason Preston: Out (Foot)
Kawhi Leonard: Out (knee)
Both teams will be shorthanded for tonight’s matchup. The Sixers have been without Matisse Thybulle for three games after he took a nasty fall against the Celtics on January 14th, resulting in a shoulder injury. At the time, team officials stated Thybulle will be re-evaluated in a week, which lands us on today, the 21st.
Seth Curry sitting is another concern for the Sixers offense. Although Seth has only shot the ball 16 times in the Sixers’ last two matchups, his presence on offense is much needed for the Sixers in the perimeter shooting department. Once Seth gets a hot hand, it is pretty difficult to stop him, as seen in the Miami Heat game where he landed himself shooting 53.3 from beyond the arc.
The Clippers are missing their two notable players in Leonard and George, who have been out for a considerable amount of time. Kawhi has missed the entirety of the season thus far with a torn ACL. It has been reported that he is ahead of schedule, and a timetable could be announced soon for his return.
Paul George has been sidelined since December 22nd with a torn ligament in his elbow. George originally suffered the injury earlier that month in a matchup against the Blazers. He sat for around two weeks before entering the game against Sacramento on the 22nd, where he then felt pain again.
The Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers have been struggling since George’s injury in December, going 9-12 since December 6th. The Clippers are coming off a rough OT loss against the Denver Nuggets where Nikola Jokic put up a huge 49 point triple-double. Despite being short of their two best players, the Sixers have to keep a lookout for Reggie Jackson, who is taking all of the Clippers’ woes onto his back these last two games.
In the Clippers’ two previous matchups, Jackson has scored 26 and 28 points respectfully. While on paper, this looks like an easy win for the Sixers, fans know the Sixers love to make an easy win as difficult as possible.
The term ‘Most Valuable Player’ should be synonymous with Joel Embiid’s name. Coming off one of his best performances scoring 50 points in 27 minutes, if Embiid is not the top contender for the MVP award, people must not be watching basketball. Averaging 28, 10, and 4 with 17 double-doubles and a triple-double, the stats speak for themselves. What the stats don’t show is Embiid’s integrity, will to win, and the evolution of his leadership, which Sixers fans have a front-row seat in seeing.
Embiid stepped up in more ways than one on the court, and it is prevalent in how his teammates speak about the big man. He holds those around him accountable for when they play sub-par and praises the good work they do as well. He lifts his team up, not only through performances on the floor but in the locker room as well. That is a true MVP.
The Philadelphia 76ers have opened as 8.5 favorites over the Clippers. Tip-off is at 7 PM in Philadelphia.
Photo by Ringo Chiu/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire