Sixers face Portland Trail Blazers in home opener

Philadelphia 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey stands on the court after hitting a 3-point shot against the Boston Celtics during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Last night, the Sixers nabbed their first win of the season and of the Nick Nurse era against the coach’s former team, the Toronto Raptors. Tonight, they’ll travel back to South Philly for their home opener against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Date and Time: Sunday, October 29, 2023

Where to Watch:

Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia PA

Injury Report

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) watches from the bench as the 76ers fall behind the Boston Celtics during the second half of Game 7 in the NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series, Sunday, May 14, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Sixers: QUESTIONABLE: Joel Embiid (Rest), OUT: James Harden (Personal/Conditioning)

Blazers: OUT: Anfernee Simons (R. thumb ligament tear), Ish Wainwright (R. calf strain)

Probable Starting Lineups

Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid tries to get past Milwaukee Bucks’ Bobby Portis during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Sixers: Tyrese Maxey, De’Anthony Melton, Tobias Harris, PJ Tucker, Joel Embiid

Portland Trail Blazers: Scoot Henderson, Shaedon Sharpe, Matisse Thybulle, Jerami Grant, Deandre Ayton

The Blazers made one of the biggest splashes in the offseason by trading away longtime superstar Damian Lillard. They’ll also be without their up-and-coming franchise piece Anfernee Simons, who’s been ruled out for 4-6 weeks following a thumb injury.

That said, the Blazers still have a few key players the Sixers will need to build their defense around. Greatest among them is this year’s No. 2 overall pick, Scoot Henderson, who is such a scoring machine that some analysts were originally not 100% certain that fellow rookie Victor Wembanyaba would actually be the first overall pick.

In the flurry of trades, Portland also acquired former Celtics Robert Williams III and Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon – both of whom have notoriously been a thorn in the Sixers’ side. And, of course, the game will mark the first return to Philadelphia for former Sixer – and perimeter defense wizard – Matisse Thybulle. 

For their part, the Sixers did a really nice job staving off the Raptors last night, coming back from a double-digit deficit to win the game. Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid exploded for 34 points apiece, with Maxey shooting a ridiculous seven of nine from three.

Through just two games in, Maxey has excellent the already-high expectations set for him as the team’s primary point guard in the absence of James Harden. Assuming Harden doesn’t play, Maxey’s offensive tear will continue to propel the Sixers forward and will be necessary to keep up with Scoot Henderson.

While not quite as flashy, both Tobias Harris and Kelly Oubre Jr. have been performing well on both ends of the court. Both had double-digit points in both games thus far, despite being severely limited from beyond the arc. Oubre’s athleticism and scoring abilities in particular offer some much-needed wing depth beyond the 3-and-D game. 

Overall, the home opener is a favorable matchup for the Sixers, though not without important challenges. We’ll see if Nick Nurse can grab his first win in South Philly tonight.