December 9, 2023

What to watch as 76ers take on Zion Williamson for the first time


Photo by David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports

The 35-16 Philadelphia 76ers traveled back to Philly after their win Tuesday in Boston over the Celtics, taking advantage of a two day break. Now, the Sixers will head out to New Orleans to play the 22-29 Pelicans.

Here’s what to watch:

Pelicans have some players that remain questionable

George Hill spoke Thursday about his rehabilitation process following right thumb surgery in February. He’ll be back “sooner than expected,” he said, though there’s no timeline for his return. Hill was the only Sixer to appear on Thursday night’s injury report.

Meanwhile, New Orleans is without Josh Hart, after he also had surgery on his right thumb. Nickeil Alexander-Walker (left ankle sprain) is out, too. 

Kira Lewis Jr. (right calf strain), Lonzo Ball (left hip flexor soreness), and Brandon Ingram (right first MTP irritation) are all questionable. 

Sixers face Williamson for the first time

The Sixers were able avoid Zion Williamson as a rookie last season because of his right knee injury.

They’re not so lucky this time around. 

The Pelicans may be out of a playoff spot currently, but Williamson earned his first All-Star selection and has been one of the best offensive players in the league.

He’s averaged 26.3 points on a 66.0 true shooting percentage and recorded 7.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.

76ers were making lots of turnover last season, now they’re forcing them

One key to the Sixers’ victory in Boston was their 20-13 turnover advantage over Boston. The Sixers’ improvement at forcing turnovers this season is a big reason why they’ve been one of the league’s top defenses.

The Sixers rank within the top 10 in opponents’ turnover percentage (15.0), per Cleaning the Glass. Last season, they finished 22nd (13.9 percent). 

Matisse Thybulle, Ben Simmons, and Danny Green are all among the top 15 in total steals.


When: 8:00 P.M. E.S.T.

Where: Smoothie King Center

Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia

Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic

Social media coverage: Philly Sports Reports’ Twitter & Instagram.

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