Sixers hoping to notch first win as Pacers come to town

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Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers watches from the bench in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

The Philadelphia 76ers (0-3) will be taking on the Indiana Pacers (1-2) on Monday night in South Philly, looking to bounce back from their slow start to the season. The Sixers have lost to the Celtics, Bucks, and, most surprisingly, the Spurs.

With the young athletic Pacers on tap, can the Sixers stop their early season slump? Check out three storylines to watch in tonight’s game:

Can Harden and Embiid play well TOGETHER?

So far this season, in the three games, that the Sixers have played, James Harden and Joel Embiid haven’t necessarily played “well” in the same game.

In the first two games against the Celtics and Bucks, James Harden led the way averaging 33 points, eight assists, and eight rebounds, while Embiid had mediocre performances, including a 6-21 outing against the Bucks. In the match-up against the Spurs, Joel Embiid had a dominant 40-point outing, but Harden had 12 points on 4-18 shooting.

Can these two play well at the same time against the Pacers? If they don’t want to drop to 0-4, they will need to figure out a way to do so.

Where’s the Sixers’ defense?

Before the season started, the 76ers stated that their goal was to be the best defense in the NBA. In these first three games, to be quite frank, they look far from it. The Sixers are currently ranked 24th in defensive rating, with teams shooting 48 percent against them. It starts with Joel Embiid, who is supposed to be the anchor of the defense.

According to the team, he has been dealing with some conditioning issues due to a bout with plantar fasciitis in the summer. Overall, Embiid has looked sluggish and is being beaten to the rim by drives and just doesn’t look as engaged.

PJ Tucker has taken on some of the tougher assignments, but the overall team defense hasn’t reaped the benefits. Matisse Thybulle doesn’t play many minutes, and Tobias Harris hasn’t looked like the two-way player he was during the playoffs. They need to pick up the defense against the Pacers.

Battle of the Tyreses

Tonight will be a match-up between Tyrese Maxey and Tyrese Haliburton. Maxey had an amazing preseason but started out a little slow during the regular season. He needs to get going if this team is going to have continued success.

Tyrese Haliburton’s last game in Philadelphia featured a 38-point outing in a Kings’ uniform, which looked like he was auditioning for the Sixers’ front office to trade for him. Look for both Tyreses to have a big outing tonight.

You can catch tonight’s game at 7:00 PM on NBC Sports Philadelphia and 97.5 the Fanatic.

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