Philadelphia 76ers (26-19) vs San Antonio Spurs (17-29)
AT&T Center, San Antonio
The Sixers will be looking to make a statement against the Spurs as they travel to San Antonio tonight, after an embarrassing loss to the Clippers on Friday that saw the team surrender a 24 point lead. The Sixers were on fire up to that point, having won ten of their last thirteen games.
The Spurs are going to be ready for this game after their own loss to the Nets (117-102) on Friday night. The team, as a whole, has played well but may not possess the overall talent to compete with the big guns in the Western Conference.
The Sixers will be relying heavily on Joel Embiid, as they have for the past month it seems. The Cameroonian was having a good season early in the year amidst COVID absences and injuries. Since returning, Embiid has elevated his game to another level and seemingly has been carrying the Sixers to a 10-3 record over their last thirteen games. He’s been virtually unstoppable, averaging over 33 points per game through this period.
Dejounte Murray will be the man in the spotlight for San Antonio. He’s averaging 19.3 points per game to go along with 8.5 rebounds and 8.9 assists and has become the player that everyone thought that Ben Simmons would be for the Sixers, except he’s not afraid to shoot the ball. He must have some flaw to his game, right? Not this season. While his three-point shooting is right above 32%, he’s right around his career average. The thing with Murray is that he’s doing it all this year and playing great defense. He’s averaging two steals per game which is no small feat in itself.
Murray will be able to use his full squad tonight, something the Spurs didn’t have available in their last meeting with the Sixers, which they lost 119-100 back on January 7th. Derrick White has found himself partnering with Murray and is having the best season of his career with 14.5 points per game to go along with 5.5 assists and he’s over a steal per game.
The two guards have been great this year, but the real problem for the Spurs, tonight will be how emerging center, Jakob Poetl can handle Joel Embiid. Poetl is also having a career year with 12.4 points per game to go along with 9.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. The issue is that there’s really no one like Joel Embiid in the league right now.
Embiid, on the year, is averaging 28.4 points per game to go along with 10.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists. He’s cut down on his three-point mania and is shooting 39.1% from beyond the arc this season. What he’s done lately is put the league on notice that he’s the most dominant player in the game right now and there doesn’t seem to be anyone that can argue with him or stand up against him. Poetl will be another name in a long line this season of people that Ebiid has abused.
For Philadelphia, health will be the key. Seth Curry, Danny Green, Matisse Thybulle and Shake Milton will all still be out for the Sixers. That’s going to leave the bulk of the guard work to Tyrese Maxey and Furkan Korkmaz.
Maxey has shown that he can play well in the league this year. Expecting a reserve role coming into the season, he was thrust into the starting point guard spot when Ben Simmons refused to play and top reserve, Shake Milton went down with an injury early in the season. How has Maxey responded? He’s averaging 16.7 points per game for the team. While he’s not a finished product, Maxey has really helped alleviate the issue of not having their All-Star point guard available.
Isaiah Joe, Georges Niang and even Charlie Brown Jr. will see some extended minutes, but the team is going to have a chip on their shoulder after losing the game to the Clippers, and the Spurs don’t have the firepower to hang right now and more specifically, stop Joel Embiid.
If the Sixers can get any type of consistency out of Tobias Harris this evening, this could turn in to a real blowout for the team and keep San Antonio adding to their loss column.
Sixers – 117
Spurs – 103
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire