When: 7:00 PM ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center; Philadelphia, Pa.
How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
CHA: Vernon Carey Jr.: out (health protocols), Kelly Oubre Jr.: out (health protocols).
PHI: Seth Curry: out (ankle), Tyrese Maxey: out (health protocols), Shake Milton: out (back), Paul Reed: out (health protocols), Ben Simmons: out (back), Jaden Springer: out (illness).
The Charlotte Hornets are riding a hot streak into a road contest with the Philadelphia 76ers, coming off of three-straight victories. The only problem; the Sixers are hotter. They’ve won seven-in-a-row and are 8-2 in their last 10 games.
Philadelphia has knocked off the Hornets twice already this season, giving themselves 16-straight wins in the season series. The Hornets haven’t beaten the Sixers since November of 2016, and while that seems insane it kind of makes sense; Philadelphia has been pushing for contention with one of the NBA’s dominant centers while the Hornets were middling contenders, tore down and rebuilt the team entirely since then, all while lacking a starting-caliber center. It’s Charlotte’s worst matchup in the league.
Joel Embiid thoroughly dominated the early-season Hornets-Sixers games and he’s been on a tear lately, scoring 30 or more points in nine of out of the Sixers’ last 10. Even in the midst of his prime, the MVP-level big man is still making improvements; in the absence of Ben Simmons, Embiid’s playmaking in halfcourt settings has taken a noticeable step forward. Per Cleaning The Glass, his career-high 24.0 assist percentage ranks in the 96th percentile among NBA centers and an 11.1 turnover percentage is a career-low. Oh, he’s also a top-five scorer in the league at 27 points per game.
Over the last three games, the Hornets’ defensive intensity has ramped up. Part of that can be attributed to the return of PJ Washington, but the perimeter players have been defending at a higher level in the last week as well. LaMelo Ball is still in the top-15 league-wide in deflections per game, Terry Rozier has picked it up after a self-admitted lackadaisical start and Miles Bridges is able to expend himself more on defense now that other scorers are 100 percent healthy and in rhythm after a tough December.
When Mason Plumlee is on the floor, the Hornets are 6.5 points better defensively per 100 possessions (best on the team), placing him in the 90th percentile in the NBA, per Cleaning The Glass. Plum’s coming around. Nobody in the world can stop Embiid, but Plumlee has some physical capability to slow him down and he has been quite a bit better in the last few weeks.
Let’s see how it goes. The Hornets are due for a win against Philadelphia at some point.