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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Philadelphia 76ers Preview

The Embiid-less 76ers come to town to face the Blazers.

Portland Trail Blazers v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (8-8) vs Philadelphia 76ers (9-7)

Coming off a remarkable comeback against the Chicago Bulls in a game that finished with a score of 112-107, the Portland Trail Blazers have a chance to go above .500 for the first time since October 29th. Portland also the opportunity for their first three game winning streak. A game at home after a few days off is tailor-made for getting this team truly on track.

The Philadelphia 76ers are in the midst of a six game road trip. Losses at Indiana and Utah brought their overall losing streak up to five in row. However, they snapped that streak in Denver, beating the Nuggets by a score of 103-89 Thursday night. Tyrese Maxey and Seth Curry led the way for the 76ers, scoring 22 and 20 points respectively.

Saturday, November 20 - 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: ROOT Sports, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (probable)
76ers injuries: Joel Embiid (out), Ben Simmons (out), Danny Green (out), Matisse Thybulle (questionable), Aaron Henry (questionable)
SBN Affiliate: Liberty Ballers

What To Watch For

  • No Embiid. No problem? A running theme this year has been how many times the Blazers have ducked opponents’ stars due to injury. This time, the Blazers will miss Joel Embiid due to COVID-19. Advantage Blazers? Not so fast. Andre Drummond and Charles Bassey frustrated Jokic in the second half, holding him to just three points over that stretch. Jusuf Nurkic will have his opportunity to put his stamp on this game, but there is a real danger that he could be outworked, especially by the rookie Bassey if they are on the court at the same time.
  • Maybe just score and see if the 76ers can keep up. Over the last six games Philadelphia has scored an average of 102.5 points per game. The Blazers have scored more than that in all but two of their eight losses. After benefitting from a bit of extra rest at home it might be time to fire up the engines and make the 76ers react.
  • Consistency. If there is one word that does not describe the Blazers, it would be consistent. The first half against the Bulls had Blazers fans pulling out their hair and making alternate plans for April and beyond. The second half was a different story altogether. If you hadn’t watched the first half, the second half would make you think the Blazers really have something really good brewing. Will the real Portland Trail Blazers please stand up? That’s not a rhetorical question, it’s a plea. Trail Blazers fans seriously want to know what this team is capable of, and so far we just don’t know. If you squint with one eye you can see a ton of talent and a team starting to figure out their new coach and what’s being asked of them. If you squint with the other eye, you see a team on the brink of mailing in the rest of the season. Open both of your eyes and you might see both in the same quarter. It’s time for the Blazers to smooth some of the rough edges and show us who they really are.

What Others Are Saying

No Embiid? That wasn’t a problem Thursday and Charles Bassey is a one reason according to Paul Hudrick of Liberty Ballers.

On Thursday night in Denver, we saw a glimpse of why Bassey was so highly thought of back then as the still shorthanded Sixers recorded a convincing road win. The second-round pick and Western Kentucky product played a huge role in slowing down reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and providing the Sixers with much-needed energy off the bench.

The 76ers’ record with Embiid has been really good. Micheal Scotto of HoopsHype, in a conversation with Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, says that fact might be hurting Simmons’ value.

When I talk to other executives around the league about the situation with the Sixers, nobody feels sorry for Daryl Morey around the league. They think his asking price is way too high coming off the playoffs. Teams know Ben Simmons doesn’t want to be there. I’ve heard this from some executives, too, that when Joel Embiid was healthy and before their recent losing streak, this team was performing well without him. Some executives said to me it further lowered the trade value for Ben. When you lose a star player, you typically struggle, but Philadelphia coming out of the gate, was leading the Eastern Conference. Obviously, when they lost Embiid (Covid-19 protocols), that was like having the rug pulled out from them.

Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that the 76ers have looked at two options for trading Simmons, including a deal for the Piston’s Jerami Grant.

So, if the team doesn’t get healthy or improve quickly, the Sixers’ title chances could shrink no matter what trade they make. That’s why the team has considered holding onto Simmons and making a push for Harden in the offseason.

But if they do trade him this season, Grant will be one of their targets.