Sixers Facing Pelicans in First of a 5-game Home Stand

NBA: APR 09 76ers at Pelicans
NEW ORLEANS, LA – APR 09: New Orleans Pelicans center Willy Hernangomez (9) fouls Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) during a NBA game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Philadelphia 76ers at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA on Apr 09, 2021. (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire)

The NBA season is flying by, with over half of the season already in the books. The competition for the Eastern Conference is tight, with the Sixers firmly in the mix. Despite sitting in 6th place, the Sixers are just 2.5 games out of the top spot in the East. In order to continue to climb, picking up a win in every game is important, and the Sixers will turn their focus to the New Orleans Pelicans for this matchup.

New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans have had a disappointing season as they sit in 11th place in the Western Conference with a record of 17-28. One of the biggest storylines of their year has been the status of Zion Williamson, who has yet to play a game this season. The former number one overall pick was originally listed as out for 4-6 weeks after receiving a foot injection, but there is some growing pessimism regarding the chances of Zion playing at all this year. He is currently consulting with the same doctor who treated Joel Embiid with his foot injury early in his career and rehabbing away from the Pelicans.

While the Pelicans are not as big of a threat without Zion, this is not a game the Sixers can sleepwalk through. They are led in scoring by Brandon Ingram, who averages 22.4 points per game along with 6.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists. Ingram missed the previous game with an ankle sprain, and his status is still uncertain for this matchup. Kira Lewis Jr. also remains out after tearing his ACL earlier this season.

Sixers Injury Report

The biggest news for the Sixers is that Matisse Thybulle has been upgraded to questionable on the injury report after missing the previous 5 games with a shoulder sprain dating back to this scary fall:

If Matisse is able to suit up, it will make a major difference for the Sixers, who have started Charlie Brown Jr. the past two games due to the absence of Thybulle and Danny Green. Thybulle’s return will give some necessary depth at the wing position and give the Sixers a needed boost on the defensive end.

Outside of Thybulle, the status of the Sixers remains the same. Seth Curry (ankle), Shake Milton (back), Danny Green (hip), and Ben Simmons remain out on the injury report. It is worth noting that Shake Milton has begun some on-court work and is expected to rejoin the team relatively soon. The Sixers have been fairly vague on the status of each player but expect Curry to rejoin the team sooner rather than later as well.

Overall Thoughts

Especially if Brandon Ingram is not able to play, this is a very winnable game for the Sixers. Of late, Philly has been playing much better basketball and has secured wins in 11 of their last 14 games. The Pelicans have a better chance than most teams of matching up with Joel Embiid as Jonas Valanciunas is one of the better big men in the NBA, but there should not be a player in the NBA that likes their chances of matching up with Embiid right now.

The Sixers opened up as 3.5 point favorites over the Pelicans, which should be a spread they are able to cover. This will be the first of five straight home games with multiple winnable matchups ahead. The Sixers have seemingly turned the corner in recent games almost entirely as a credit to the unreal level of play that Joel Embiid has been on. Expect this tone to continue in tonight’s game.