The hot Sixers face their latest test this evening in Indianapolis when they take on a Pacers team that they could very easily see in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Only one game separates Doug Collins' squad (25-17) and the Pacers (24-16) between the 4th and 5th seeds in the East.
The Pacers were without Danny Granger when the two teams met at the Wells Fargo Center earlier in the season when the Sixers got the win on January 9th. That was the game, you may recall, in which the Sixers got a "hot tip" that Indiana was focusing on shutting down their second unit. That didn't work real well.
The Night Shift isn't exactly what it used to be with Evan Turner taking the step into the starting lineup, but Nik, Lou, Thad and co. are still a boss of a bench for other teams to handle.
Tonight also marks the long-awaited return of Spencer Hawes to the lineup. Honestly, it's hard to vividly remember this Sixers team with Hawes. They've been through so much since then it seems. They were the talk of the NBA, then they fell into an awful lull, and now they're red hot over their last three contests. Hawes return tonight against a formidable playoff foe should be a very good barometer.
As for the looming trade deadline, Rod Thorn told Sixers beat writer Dennis Deitch today that there is a better than 50% chance that they make a deal before the deadline. Granted, it likely won't be a blockbuster. Two names Deitch throws out are long swingmen Reggie Williams and Corey Brewer.
The Sixers are looking for their 4th-straight win. Tip off shortly after 7:00 pm on CSN.
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About NBC internships
It's still unclear whether or not the Eagles will have Ronald Darby for Monday night's game, but at least they'll have their linebackers.
Both Jordan Hicks (calf) and Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) will be OK to play against Washington on Monday night, head coach Doug Pederson said.
"Both of them will practice today," Pederson said on Saturday morning. "They're both doing well. Just to get a couple extra days of rest. And Mychal has actually practiced all week. Jordan's been the one we've kept out. Both of them will go today and we'll get a better understanding of where they're at but they'll be fine for the game."
Hicks, Kendricks and Darby were the only three Eagles who were limited in Friday's practice.
Darby (ankle) will be listed as questionable for the game, but earlier in the week Pederson said "stars have to align" for the cornerback to play this week. The 49ers game on Oct. 29 is probably more likely.
Darby, who dislocated his right ankle in Week 1, returned to practice for the first time this week.
"[Darby has] looked well. It's just day by day with him," Pederson said. "We'll get through today's practice with him. Obviously, have limited his reps during practice. He is doing well and we'll get through today and tomorrow to make a decision for [the game]."
The Eagles will practice on Saturday at 11:45 a.m. and the injury report will come out later in the afternoon.