Who: Charlotte Hornets at Philadelphia 76ers
When: 7:00 p.m. EST
Where: Wells Fargo Center
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, Comcast Sports Network Philadelphia
When the Hornets embarked on this two week road trip to begin the year, they knew it was going to be a tough one. Picking up wins in San Antonio, Houston, and Boston is always a tall order, and a recent injury bug to some of the Hornets key contributors made the outlook even bleaker.
Still, this is bad.
Charlotte has dropped all three games of the road trip so far; losing four of their last six overall while slipping to a just-barely-above-.500 record of 20-19, and being overtaken for the first time in the standings by the overachieving Milwaukee Bucks.
The one bright spot on the five game jaunt was supposed to be tonight’s match against the Philadelphia 76ers, the NBA’s hapless, cellar-dwelling punching bag for much of the past four seasons.
The Hornets have the worst timing.
The Sixers, who have been in essence purposely losing basketball games for the greater part of the past four years as part of former GM Sam Hinkie’s infamous tanking “Process,” are on their hottest streak since that experiment began, winning four out of their last five games and culminating with a huge, buzzer-beating fadeaway game winner from point guard TJ McConnell against the New York Knicks Wednesday night.
Hinkie’s much-maligned process was aimed at landing a once-in-a-generation franchise player, and it worked. Sixer’s center Joel Embiid is an absolute mortal-lock to win Rookie of the Year honors, and already looks like the future of the league. Embiid, along with New Orlean’s Anthony Davis and Minnesota’s Karl Anthony Towns, makes up a crop of the new generation of big men who can shoot 3’s, run the break and defend all five positions. And he may be the best of them all.
The Sixers play Embiid on a strict, 25 minute per game restriction. In that time he’s averaging 19.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2.3 blocks, and a steal- per game. Oof.
Given the Hornet’s recent struggles against big men, there's cause for concern here.
Cody Zeller is back after ping ponging in and out of the lineup over a recent stretch, and Nicolas Batum is listed as probable after missing the Rockets game with a right knee strain.
As much of a joke as the Sixers have been in recent years, the Hornets absolutely cannot afford to look past this game