When: 7:00 PM ET
Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC
How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The Hornets are three games into a five-game stretch facing some of the better teams in the Eastern Conference, and they are being forced to do so now without a host of key players who are under the league’s COVID protocols. After dropping games to Chicago and Milwaukee last week the shorthanded Hornets rallied for a great road win yesterday against the Atlanta Hawks. The Hornets will now host the Philadelphia 76ers tonight and in a bizarre scheduling quirk the two teams will play again on Wednesday in Charlotte.
Philadelphia 76ers Overview
The Sixers are better than their 12-11 record. Joel Embiid missed 10 games in November due to COVID and Philly went just 2-8 in his absence. Embiid’s back, and the 76ers are once again dangerous.
Even without Ben Simmons who has yet to play this year, Philly has a solid roster. Embiid, a four-time All-Star, is his usual dominant self averaging 22.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game. Despite shooting a career high 40% from the 3-point line, Embiid is weirdly shooting just 41.2% on two-pointers for a career low 41.0% field goal percentage.
The starting five is rounded out with second year point guard Tyrese Maxey who’s having a breakout year by averaging 17.2 points and 4.9 assists per game. Shooting guard Seth Curry remains one of the better shooters in the league and averages 16.3 points on a red-hot 42.7% from the 3-point line. Small forward Danny Green averages just 7.8 points per game but is known for his basketball IQ and playing outstanding defense. Versatile power forward Tobias Harris drops 19.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, but he’s hitting just 29.2% of his 4.1 attempts from the 3-point line. Harris is currently day-to-day with an illness and is questionable to play tonight.
Philly’s bench consists largely of four players who each average over 20 minutes per game in guards Shake Milton, Matisse Thybulle, and Furkan Korkmaz, forward Georges Niang, and center Andre Drummond. It’s a capable supporting cast.
How the Hornets Can Win
With LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Mason Plumlee, and Jalen McDaniels all out, the Hornets role players are going to need to step up in this game just as they did in yesterday’s victory against the Hawks. In that game Miles Bridges dropped 32 and Kelly Oubre 28. PJ Washington had a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double, Cody Martin scored 19 points on 11 shots, and Ish Smith scored 18. All four of these guys had some of their best games of the season and will need to do the same against the 76ers.
Joel Embiid will likely feast in the paint against the cast of players the Hornets can throw at him, so the focus should be containing the supporting cast of Maxey, Curry, and Green. This can’t be one of those random, frustrating games where Danny Green suddenly goes 5-of-8 from the 3-point line. If Tobias Harris does suit up, I’d like to see Miles Bridges make him work extremely hard on the defensive end and even get him into foul trouble. The more Harris has to work on defense, the less gas he’ll have in the tank to put up his normal 20 points per game.
This would be a tough game even under ideal circumstances, and the chaos the Hornets are facing is just plain tough. Lots of guys will need to step up in this one to pull off an important victory against an Eastern Conference foe who the Hornets will be battling for playoff seeding for the rest of the year.
What’s your prediction for tonight’s game?
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Hornets win easy
Hornets win a close one
76ers win a close one
76ers win easy