The Sixers feel they should be 12-5 and riding a five-game winning streak heading into Wednesday night's matchup against the 7-9 Sacramento Kings.
Instead, they're 11-6 following a series of late-game mishaps in Monday's loss to the Raptors, and looking to start another winning streak.
Here are the essentials for tonight's game:
When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30 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:
‘No one’s Superman’
Joel Embiid is coming off the first scoreless performance of his NBA career. He missed all 11 of his attempts from the floor and all three from the foul line Monday night.
“Everybody has down games,” Ben Simmons told reporters. “No one's Superman. It happened tonight, but he's Jo, he's gonna be good.”
Against Sacramento, Embiid will be defended by two former Sixers. Richaun Holmes starts for the Kings and the 26-year-old has opened the season well, averaging 11.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. The Kings use Dewayne Dedmon, a Process era Sixer, off the bench.
Embiid was excellent the last time he played Holmes. Though Holmes was a backup at the time for the Suns, Embiid had ample success against him on Jan. 2, scoring 42 points in the Sixers’ 132-127 win over Phoenix. If the Kings follow the Raptors’ blueprint, Embiid will see plenty of double teams tonight.
An interesting trend
Over their last eight games, the Sixers are 14th in the NBA in turnovers per game with 14.4. That’s a big improvement from their 18.8 turnovers over the first nine games of the season.
The major decrease in turnovers has coincided with a significant decrease in pace — from 103.94 over that opening stretch (10th in the league) to 97.30 since then (29th).
The best explanation for this trend is the Sixers are forcing fewer turnovers — just 13.5 per game since Nov. 12 — which is leading to fewer opportunities to turn defense into offense, and less chaos in the open floor. There also seems to be a concerted effort to value the ball more in the half court, and to probe for open shots. Finding good looks has often required a lot of effort, too.
Meanwhile, the Kings haven’t been playing very fast either. They’re 28th in pace this season and are missing speedy point guard De'Aaron Fox because of an ankle injury.
Beware of Buddy
Buddy Hield scored 41 points and made 11 three-pointers for the Kings Monday night … and it wasn’t enough.
The NBA’s Last Two Minute Report said the Celtics' Marcus Smart should have been called for a travel with 33 seconds left. Smart wasn’t, and he hit the go-ahead shot for Boston.
The Sixers will be wary of Hield and a Kings team that’s won seven of 11 games since starting 0-5.
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