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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Philadelphia 76ers

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Roster uncertainties surround 2018’s first B2B.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

After finishing 2017 with a dud in Detroit, the Silver & Black jump start the new year with a B2B in Manhattan and the City of Brotherly Love. While Philadelphia’s star center Joel Embiid may not play due to a hand injury, the Spurs will face Rookie of the Year frontrunner Ben Simmons for the first time. With victories over the Knicks and 76ers, San Antonio would even its road record at 10-10. Philly begins 2018 against the Spurs after completing a five-game road trip on New Year’s Eve with a win over Phoenix.

San Antonio Spurs (26-12) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (17-19)

January 3, 2018 | 6:00 pm

Watch: FSSW, Listen: WOAI

Spurs injuries: Rudy Gay (heel), Danny Green (groin)

76ers injuries: Justin Anderson (lower leg) GTD, Joel Embiid (hand) GTD,

Markelle Fultz (shoulder) GTD, Furkan Korkmaz (foot) GTD.

The young Philadelphians

Paul Newman starred in The Young Philadelphians, a 1959 movie about a young, upwardly mobile attorney who can’t quite escape his past. Philly’s core averages 25 years of age with Embiid at 23, Simmons at 21 and rookie Markelle Fultz at 19. JJ Redick plays the old man role at age 33. The Sixers last made the Eastern Conference playoffs in 2012 with Andre Iguodala and Allen Iverson led the most recent Finals appearance in 2001. Their last championship team featured Moses Malone and Julius Erving in 1983. While this current iteration is certainly ascendant, they remain 2 games under .500 and in 10th place in the East with a reflective minus-0.50 point differential (108.3/108.8).

Roll call

Because TSA confiscated my crystal ball on a recent trip, I’m unable to predict which Spurs will or will not play against Philadelphia following the Tuesday night’s game in New York City. Presumably, a combination of Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, and Manu Ginobili will sit out the SEGABABA.

The matchup

San Antonio has won 10 straight over Philly, but don’t expect this one to be easy. While much depends on who plays, the Sixers can ring up points in bunches which a stale Spur offense could find hard to match. Teams have held Philadelphia to under 100 points just once this season, a 97-86 win over Detroit back in October. However, with a 7-9 home record, versus 10-10 on the road, Wells Fargo Center may not be quite as advantageous as other venues.

Philly leads the league in rebounding with 47 boards per game, but also in turnovers and fouls with 18 and 24 per game. While their fast pace (second in the NBA) certainly contributes to this high turnover rate, the Spurs will be challenged to match the Sixers’ pace if they do not shoot well. Defense remains the Spurs’ advantage and a deep roster with multiple scorers helps counter the B2B. LaMarcus Aldridge should continue his success at Wells Fargo regardless of whether Embiid plays.


Vegas prediction: Spurs by 3.

Game prediction: Spurs by 7.

For a 76ers fan’s perspective, visit: Liberty Ballers.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher.

PtR's Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR's Twitter feed.