Before they have a chance to get one back on the defending champion Raptors Sunday night, the Sixers have a game to play Saturday at Wells Fargo Center.
Here are the essentials for the matchup between the 15-7 Sixers and 5-16 Cavs.
When: 7:30 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 7 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app
And here are three storylines to watch:
It’s not rest this time
Joel Embiid has yet to have a “rest” game since saying load management is “BS.”
He’s out Saturday with a left hip contusion. A team source told NBC Sports Philadelphia that Embiid reported discomfort after the Sixers’ 119-113 loss Thursday to the Wizards and is being treated for the injury.
Embiid had played in 11 straight games since sitting the last game of a back-to-back on Nov. 13 in Orlando.
After tonight, he’ll have played in 18 of the Sixers’ first 23 games, and 30.4 minutes per night. He played every one of the team’s first 23 games last year, averaging 34.6 minutes.
Missing the ‘dot connector’
Before the season, Brett Brown called Josh Richardson the “mortar” for the Sixers. On Nov. 20, he labeled him a “dot connector.”
The Sixers have managed a 5-1 mark in games Richardson has missed — he’s out again Saturday with right hamstring tightness — but they’ve been much worse with him off the floor. The team has a plus-10.6 net rating with Richardson on the court, minus-0.6 with him off it.
Much of that can be attributed to him being paired with Embiid, who has similar on-off numbers and tends to boost the net ratings of whomever he’s playing with, but that disparity does suggest Richardson’s value.
At a minimum, splitting up the Richardson-Embiid pairing has hurt the Sixers.
Drama with the Cavs
Three anonymous players were quoted in a story in The Athletic by Shams Charania and Joe Vardon about new Cavs head coach John Beilein. The players voiced their frustration with, among other things, the former Michigan coach’s emphasis on fundamentals and extended film sessions. And, according to the report, “all the team’s screens, cuts, and pivots are named after wild animals. A curl is a 'polar bear' in John Beilein's system.” That reportedly hasn’t resonated with a few of the Cavs’ veteran players.
Several players then responded to the report and spoke out in support of Beilein, including Tristan Thompson.
“Y’all better find them names ‘cause I’ll pull up on ‘em right now,” Thompson told reporters. “You can’t do that s---. At the end of the day if you’re going to build a culture and a family, you can’t have that Chatty Patty s--- going on. That s--- is whack to me.”
That wasn’t the only notable news involving the Cavs on Friday. The team is prepared to listen to offers for Kevin Love, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported. The five-time All-Star missed Cleveland's 93-87 loss Friday to the Magic because of an illness.
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