For whatever reason, it feels as though no one actually knows just how good the Philadelphia 76ers have been this season. They’re top 10 in both Offensive and Defensive efficiency (8th and 6th, respectfully) and at 33-17, are just 3 games back of the Boston Celtics for the best record in the Eastern Conference. A not-oft discussed aspect of their season: They’ve lost just 7 games since the beginning of December, with win streaks of both 8-games and 7-games coming at different times. This success is due largely in part to the stellar tandem play of MVP candidate Joel Embiid and former MVP James Harden, a tandem which has provided Philly with an identity on offense that they seem to have have lacked in years past.
Losers of 7 in a row, it’ll be tough for these Spurs to get a win and break that streak against a team that’s been playing so well, especially if they’re as shorthanded as it looks like they may be. Rookie sensation Jeremy Sochan and Tre Jones, big minute-eaters on the roster, both left Wednesday’s loss to the Kings before halftime and are listed as day to day on the injury report. If they can’t go, it’ll be even slimmer pickings for head coach Gregg Popovich to choose from.
San Antonio Spurs (13-29) vs Philadelphia 76ers (33-17)
February 3, 2023 | 7:00 PM CT
Watch: BSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Jeremy Sochan (back — OUT), Tre Jones (foot — day-to-day), Romeo Langford (hip — OUT), Devin Vassell (knee — OUT),
76er Injuries: None
What to watch for
- While Joel Embiid is once again having an MVP-worthy season, leading the league in scoring at 33.5 points a game, the return of James Harden from a foot injury in early December has lined up perfectly with this recent run of success. Limited time together last season showed how dynamic that pairing could be, but it’s been on full display since Harden’s return as floor general. 4 of Harden’s league-leading 11 assists per game and 33% of his passes go to Embiid.
- Speaking of Embiid, he’s been even better than he was last year. As was mentioned, he’s averaging 33.5 a night this season, just under 3 more points than last season (30.6) and could end the year with his second straight scoring championship and a top 3 finish for the 76ers in the East. Embiid was recently named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for the month of January
- Malaki Branham had the best game of his young career against Sacramento on Wednesday night, scoring 22 points and dishing out 5 assists (0 turnovers) in 32 minutes of action. With a handful of guys out and uncertainty surrounding much of the roster, the rookie Branham should have many more opportunities for more flashes this year like he had against the Kings. Perhaps he follows it up tonight with another show for the AT&T Center?
- The East and West All Star Reserves were announced yesterday and James Harden appeared to take umbrage with being left off the All Star team. He certainly has a case for being in Utah during All Star Weekend, and there’s definitely a chance he could take it out on the Spurs tonight.
- The Spurs shot just 7 free throws against the Kings. 7. At home. SEVEN! It’ll be tough to get anything going inside against the stout Sixer defense, but hopefully we see them get a few more calls to go there way, especially at home.
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