The last time Charlotte came to town, the Sixers needed all of Joel Embiid’s 27 points and 15 rebounds to sneak out with the 105-103 win.
The Sixers, looking for their seventh win at Wells Fargo Center, won't have it easy Friday night against the Hornets (see essentials), who are led by Kemba Walker, the second-leading scorer in the league at 28.1 points per game.
Here are three storylines to watch:
1. Hornets bench > Sixers bench
The Hornets have one of the best benches in the league, currently ranking second in scoring (48.8 ppg), first in assists (11.1) and second in blocked shots (3.3), and it’s not just one guy. Check out these points-per-game averages by their second unit: Malik Monk (13.4), Tony Parker (10.1), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (8.6), Miles Bridges (8.1) and Willy Hernangomez (7.2).
The Sixers have only one guy coming off the bench that averages more than 7.5 points and his name is J.J. Redick. The Sixers are going to need a little more from their bench tonight to keep up with Charlotte (and remember, Mike Muscala is out with a facial/nose fracture).
2. More than Embiid
The Sixers saw contributions from all cylinders in their win over Indiana.
Yes, Embiid still led the team with a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double, but it wasn’t a game in which he had to absolutely dominate for the Sixers to win.
Up until that Indiana game, 25.4 percent of the team's points were scored by Embiid. That’s a little over a quarter of its offensive production relying on one guy every night. With real contributions from guys like Dario Saric, Robert Covington and Landry Shamet, the Sixers were able to win without Embiid having to have one of his best games of the year.
That’s big, but can they carry that over tonight?
3. Is it as easy as just having fun?
After the first win on the road vs. Indiana, Ben Simmons said one word eight times in his postgame interview: Fun. When I asked him what was different last game than any other game, he said that he thought they were overthinking things to start the season and putting too much pressure on themselves. He also mentioned that people were putting too many expectations on them as a team and as individuals and that he just wasn’t out there having fun.
Shamet said "it felt free" and "loose" and that he could see guys enjoying themselves, being a little more expressive than they’ve been.
Will they be able to replicate that energy?
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