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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Philadelphia 76ers Preview

Another tall order for the Blazers as they take on the 76ers.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (31-35) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (43-22)

The Portland Trail Blazers have another tough task ahead of them as they face Joel Embiid and the 76ers. The Blazers will need to try to bounce back from a 115-93 loss to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, a game in which the Blazers never really looked competitive. Portland is starting to get healthier though, and a possible return of Anfernee Simons would be welcome. Realistically though The Blazers will need everything to go right to stay in this one.

The Philadelphia 76ers are third in the East and have their sights set higher. Winners of their last three in a row and nine out of their last twelve, this is a solid team that presents matchup problems for the Blazers that don’t have any easy remedies. Just looking at the numbers this looks like another rough one for Portland, but with Damian Lillard you just never know.

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Philadelphia 76ers - Friday, March 10 - 4:00 p.m. PT

How to watch on TV: Root Sports Plus, NBA League Pass

Blazers injuries: Justise Winslow (out), Ibou Badji (out), Ryan Arcidiacono (out), Anfernee Simons (questionable)

76ers injuries: None

SBN Affiliate: Liberty Ballers

The Matchup

  • Joel Embiid. Embiid is an absolute nightmare matchup for Portland in the best of times, but these aren’t the best of times. Having Jusuf Nurkic back on the court helps, but being that this is just Nurkic’s second game back after injury it’s hard to imagine Embiid not having a very productive night. Embiid is averaging 36.8 points so far in March, and you have to go back to 2022 to find his last game where he scored fewer than 23 points. How will the Blazers slow down Embiid? I have no earthly idea.
  • Pace. The 76ers are a slow, deliberate team. At 26th in PACE, Philadelphia generally doesn’t have that many possessions each game, they don’t put up that many shots, and they don’t score that many points for a team with the fourth-best win percentage in the NBA. However, they are very good at getting other teams to play they want them to play. It’s unlikely the Blazers can beat the 76ers at their own game, so perhaps the Blazers can try to make the game more up tempo and see how Philadelphia reacts.
  • Live and die at the three point line. The Blazers weren’t supposed to be relying on the three point line as much this season but that idea has kind of gone out the window. Over their last 10 games they’ve made 15 or more attempts from deep five times. The Blazers won four of those games. Over that same period if they didn’t make at least 15 threes they’ve lost every game. It’s hard to see how the Blazers can stay competitive in this games without lots of made threes.

What Others Are Saying

The 76ers are deep, and Chrisopher Kline of The Sixers Sense says that will cause tough difficulties in the off-season.

That said, it’s hard not to think about the future. Of all the contenders, Philly is dealing with the most uncertainty right now. Not only could Harden walk for nothing, but the cap situation gets very tricky if they want to re-sign all their important role players.

Justin Grasso of Sports Illustrated take a 76ers’ perspective on why Matisse Thybulle is succeeding in Portland at a level not reached in Philadelphia.

While his Portland performance is a small sample size so far, Thybulle’s putting up career-best numbers with the Blazers. While discussing the differences between the Sixers and the Blazers that’s helped him find more offensive success with The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey, Thybulle noted that the fear of losing playing time due to on-court struggles made it hard to succeed.

The key to peak performance for Joel Embiid and James Harden may be Tyrese Maxey according to Paul Hudrick of Liberty Ballers.

Harden and Embiid (rightfully) hog all the headlines when it comes to the Sixers. Their partnership has been as fruitful as just about any in the team’s history. How well they perform (and how healthy they are) will have the biggest impact on how far the Sixers go in the postseason.

But Maxey is also pretty damn important. The 22-year-old guard has recently reminded us of his own star power and how his success and abilities can aid the Sixers’ superstar duo.