May 28, 2023

What to watch in 76ers’ return to Philadelphia to play struggling Rockets


Photo by Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports

The 18-10 Philadelphia 76ers will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak back at home on Wednesday night, while the 11-16 Houston Rockets will be hoping to end a six-game streak.

Here’s what to watch in the Sixers’ return back to the Wells Fargo Center after a 1-3 west-coast road-trip.

Houston could be very undermanned 

Christian Wood, who has continued his impressive work by averaging 22.0 points and 10.2 rebounds over his first 17 games for Houston, will miss a seventh consecutive game with a right ankle sprain. Other key players included on the Rockets’ Tuesday night injury report were Eric Gordon (right groin soreness), Victor Oladipo (right foot strain), and P.J. Tucker (left quad contusion). Gordon and Oladipo were doubtful, while Tucker was questionable. 

For the Sixers, Shake Milton will miss his fourth straight game because of a left ankle sprain. Joel Embiid was listed as probable on Tuesday’s report with back tightness, which sidelined him for Monday’s loss to the Jazz. 

More eyes than usual on Simmons 

Though he would’ve been a key part of Houston’s scouting report regardless, Ben Simmons attracted a lot of attention when he scored a career-high 42 points in the Sixers’ loss Monday to the Utah Jazz.

He likely won’t be defended by big men again, and the question of whether he can sustain the aggression he showed against the Jazz isn’t entirely relevant with Embiid probable to return.

When Embiid is on the floor, the Sixers hardly ever need Simmons and Tobias Harris to combine for 50 field goal attempts and 78 points. That said, the Sixers would surely be encouraged if Simmons keeps playing high-level basketball, whatever form that takes. 

I would imagine his primary defensive assignment will be John Wall, who’s posted 20.0 points and 6.2 assists per game in his first year with the Rockets. 

Can the Rockets figure things out without Wood? 

As noted above, Houston’s losing streak is twice as long as the Sixers’, and it coincides with Wood’s absence. Gordon, Oladipo, and Tucker have all missed recent games, too. DeMarcus Cousins has started in Wood’s place and averaged 11.0 points and 9.2 rebounds during that stretch.

Cousins vs. Embiid would’ve been a matchup of two All-Stars at one point but Embiid should now have an edge, as he tends to on most nights. Tucker has shown himself to be capable of guarding centers and could be a factor if he’s available. It will be interesting to see new Rockets head coach Stephen Silas’ game plan against Embiid. 

Overall, the Rockets are 29th in offensive rating and 23rd in defensive rating since Feb. 6, per Cleaning the Glass. They’ll be desperate for a win.  

Essentials for tonight’s game:

  • When: 7:30 P.M. E.S.T.
  • Where: Wells Fargo Center  
  • Broadcast: ESPN and NBC Sports Philadelphia 
  • Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
  • Social media coverage: Philly Sports Reports’ Twitter & Instagram

Will the Sixers snap their three game losing streak tonight? Gosh I hope so!

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