The Philadelphia 76ers have comfortably established themselves alongside the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks as one of the top 3 teams in the Eastern Conference. After a head coaching change and a summer full of James Harden-related drama, reigning league MVP Joel Embiid and his running mate Tyrese Maxey have upped their game even more. They return to Philadelphia on a 5-game win streak tonight after two road wins against the Orlando Magic and the Charlotte Hornets.
For the Spurs, tonight represents the final stop on what has been a 5 game road trip. Though they’ve only picked up a single win in that span, San Antonio has continued to show that they’re starting to figure some things out. Provided that one of them doesn’t sit out, tonight it will also be the first time that rookie Victor Wembanyama goes up against Embiid. Either way, it’s another chance for Gregg Popovich’s group to go up against one of the best teams in the NBA as the All Star break looms.
San Antonio Spurs (8-34) at Philadelphia 76ers (28-13)
January 22 2023 | 6:00 PM CT
Watch: BSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Sidy Cissoko, ankle (OUT), Charles Bassey, out for the year
76ers Injuries: De’Anthony Melton, back (day to day), Robert Covington, knee (day to day), Mo Bamba, knee (day to day), Jaden Springer, ankle (day to day), Patrick Beverley, illness (day to day)
What to watch for
- The last few seasons have featured, for the most part, the same 3 big men vying for the league’s MVP award. Wembanyama, who has already faced two of those candidates, Denver’s Nikola Jokic and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokoumpo, will have faced the entire trifecta after the matchup with Embiid tonight.
- Embiid has raised his game even more this season to account for the loss of James Harden. He’s leading the league in scoring, averaging a career-high 35 points a night on fantastic shooting numbers. He’s also improved his playmaking, pitching in just a tick under 6 assists per game, the best of his career. He also knows how to get opposing defenders into foul trouble, living at the free throw line as a result, where he is also averaging a career-high in attempts.
- Tyrese Maxey has seen the biggest production increase as the 76ers have looked to replace what Harden gave them on the offensive side of the ball last season as the lead guard. Maxey’s shooting numbers are down a little bit, but everything else is up across the board, including his scoring and assist numbers. He’s averaging 6 more points per game than he did last season (26 compared to 20) and over 3 more assists as well (6.7 compared to 3.5). He’s averaging just 1.7 turnovers against those 6.7 assists.
- Zach Collins has looked solid in his first two games back from injury. With the Spurs starting Wemby at center, Collins can hopefully be effective with his all-around inside game against opposing team’s bench units. This is likely the best role for his talents, rather relying on him as a 3-point shooting stretch 5, which the Spurs were trying to do early in the season.
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