The road trip rolls on and the Sacramento Kings are in Philly today to take on Joel Embiid, James Harden and a Sixers squad with championship aspirations. With De'Aaron Fox still in limbo dealing with a foot injury, the Kings are going to have to dig down and come up with something a bit more than the "Domantas Sabonis will save us" offense that they employed in New York. Shooting 25% on 40 attempts from deep won't cut it today. Will Monte McNair and his old boss finally stake the rights to Tyrese Maxey on an arm wrestling contest? Will we get to see Paul Reed vs. Neemias Queta action that we've all long deserved? Will Matisse Thybulle see more than 10 minutes of action?!
Let's talk Kings basketball!
When: Tuesday, December 13th, 4:00 PM PT
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
TV: NBC Sports California
Radio: Sactown Sports 1140
For Your Consideration
Adjust the Process: The Sixers are off to a semi-disappointing start to this season and are still sitting at two games above the break-even point and in 5th place in the West. Obviously injuries to guys like Embiid, Harden and Tyrese Maxey are out of their control and when they've all missed a third of the season or more so far, those wins just aren't going to come easy. When healthy, they're amazing. Right now, they'll just have to settle for being the fourth best defense in the league through 26 games while also somehow employing James Harden (him missing 11 games probably helps that rating a smidge). Fresh off of beat the Lakers and Hornets, the Sixers come into today's game holding opponents to the 3rd lowest scoring in the league and rocking the 4th best defensive rating. They're 4th in the league in steals, 19th in the league in blocks, and 24th in the NBA in player fouls. Teams that rely on three point shooting to beat their opponents should be forewarned: the Sixers give up the 9th least long ball attempts per game and hold teams to the lowest percentage from deep in the NBA, with opponents shooting 33.1% from three against them.
On the offensive side of things, the Sixers have truly struggled this year. Their big three have all gotten their numbers when they've been able to play - Embiid's averaging 33.4 a night with 4.8 assists and 9.8 rebounds to boot, Harden's getting 22.2 and 10.4 assists and Maxey's throwing in 22.9 points and over 4 assists to boot as well. Darryl Morey sold his soul and got a trio of absolute monsters on the offensive side of things, their health has just been a major issue to start. As a team, they're 15th in offensive rating but they're scoring in the bottom ten in the league right now, averaging 110.7 a contest. They run at the 4th slowest pace. They're in the bottom ten in three point attempts, but shoot the 4th best percentage at over 38% per game. Oddly enough, they're an absolutely garbage rebounding team - 29th in total rebounds. Some of that is the fact that they start 37 year old PJ Tucker at a forward spot but when you see that their 6'2 spot starter point guard De'Anthony Melton is 4th on the team in rebounds, that sixth sense tingling about something being wrong starts to crawl up my spine.
All this being laid out, the Sixers are far, far better than their numbers right now. As long as they have Joel Embiid healthy, they're going to have a good shot at winning an NBA game. James Harden back just further moves good fortune in their favor, even if it is a dialed back version of the MVP candidate we saw just a few years ago. Those two, plus a few willing role players, will keep the Sixers in most games, most nights.
Joel Embiid gets put in the Sabon-Zone early and picks up a few fouls that haunt him the whole night. Off-Night and the Ultimate Green Light clash to a virtual standstill and it's Monk and Huerter that ultimately make the difference in a return to form for the two shooters. Yes, I'm going to keep predicting Huerter returns to form until he does DAMNIT.
Kings: 118, Sixers: 114