Following a down-to-the-wire loss at home against the New York Knicks on Friday that put them at 4-5, the Sixers will look to pick up the pieces and reset for the remainder of the season.
While James Harden’s playmaking abilities were notably absent in Friday’s matchup as the former MVP is out with a right foot tendon strain, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers stated that there is a 75 percent chance Joel Embiid will be back in the starting lineup tonight. And it couldn’t come soon enough – the two-time MVP runner-up has been sorely missed.
When: Monday, November 7, 2022
Tipoff: 8:00 pm EST
Where: Philadelphia, PA | Wells Fargo Center
How to watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBA TV
The Phoenix Suns
If any team has been going through it as much as the Sixers have recently, it’s this team. This past offseason was already clouded by the outing of owner Robert Sarver’s horrific history of racist and misogynist comments. But even aside from him, the Phoenix Suns have had more than their fair share of off-court drama.
Deandre Ayton’s contract debacle, Chris Paul’s terrible postseason performance (which hasn’t really recovered much this season so far), and of course, Jae Crowder’s status with the team have all been sources of questions and frustrations for Suns fans. As if that wasn’t enough, the team’s 2019 first-round draft pick, PF Cam Johnson, who was inserted into the starting five after Crowder’s separation from the team, suffered a right meniscus tear on Friday night’s 108-106 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers and will be out for an indefinite time period.
Despite their woes, the Suns have managed to get off to an impressive 7-2 start. Prior to his injury, Johnson was averaging a solid 13 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. C Ayton – who also just came back from a sprained ankle – continues to show off his rare blend of size and agility, averaging 15.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game thus far this season (Side note – I still cannot believe the team almost gave up a guy who could be this generation’s version of Hakeem Olajuwon).
And, of course, there’s #1. Still the best two-way guard in the league, Devin Booker averaged 26.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.4 blocks per game last season – and he’s already put up similar numbers through the first nine games this year.
The Philadelphia 76ers
Despite the loss, the Sixers’ matchup last Friday had several bright spots. Tyrese Maxey continues to look like a legitimate All-Star candidate, putting up 31 points and 7 assists while shooting 30.8% from deep. Tobias Harris stepped up on both ends of the court, continuing to settle into his catch-and-shoot role while also keeping up with Julius Randle – the same player who bested him for an All-Star spot just two years ago.
De’Anthony Melton struggled to start but managed to make up for some of the missing playmaking with the loss of Harden, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t continue to improve in his new starting role. But the shining light of the game came from backup C-F Paul “B-Ball Paul” Reed, who had a career-high six steals, four rebounds, two blocks, and two points.
That said, the Sixers all but fell apart in the fourth. They weren’t making good reads, their floor spacing was all off, and they couldn’t get the stops they needed to save the lead. That didn’t fly against New York, and it sure won’t fly against Phoenix. Following the game, Melton expressed the need for the Sixers to demonstrate better late-game communication. While Embiid’s probable return can certainly help with that, the Sixers will need to establish an early lead and remain in sync with one another if they hope to beat a legitimate contender.
OUT: Jae Crowder (not with the team), Cam Johnson (meniscus tear), Ish Wainwright (personal), Duane Washington Jr. (personal).
QUESTIONABLE: Cameron Payne (foot soreness)
OUT: James Harden (right foot tendon strain).
QUESTIONABLE: Joel Embiid (non-COVID illness), Danuel House JR. (non-COVID illness).