The 44-21 Sixers will aim to sustain their momentum Wednesday night in their chase for the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed.
With the Bucks’ win Tuesday over the Nets, the Sixers are 1.5 games ahead of Brooklyn and three in front of Milwaukee.
Here are the essentials for the Sixers' road trip finale against the 16-49 Rockets:
- When: 8 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 7 p.m.
- Where: Toyota Center
- Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
- Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the MyTeams app
And here are three storylines to watch:
Houston is very depleted
The Rockets will dress eight players Wednesday, head coach Stephen Silas said pregame.
Here's the full list of Houston players out:
- John Wall (right hamstring strain)
- Eric Gordon (right groin strain)
- Dante Exum (right calf strain)
- David Nwaba (right wrist sprain)
- Sterling Brown (left knee soreness)
- D.J. Wilson (health and safety protocols)
- Christian Wood (right ankle soreness)
- Danuel House Jr. (right ankle soreness)
- Jae'Sean Tate (health and safety protocols)
Furkan Korkmaz (right ankle sprain) is out, but the Sixers are otherwise healthy.
Houston has lost its past two games by a combined 51 points to the Warriors and Knicks. The team did beat the Bucks last Thursday on a night when Giannis Antetokounmpo exited early with a sprained right ankle, receiving 50 points from Kevin Porter Jr. and 31 from Wood.
What changes with the bench?
Korkmaz had been serving recently as the 10th man in the Sixers’ rotation. Without him, head coach Doc Rivers used Mike Scott for six minutes and Tyrese Maxey for two in the second half of his team’s win Monday over the Bulls.
The Sixers’ bench wasn’t good, allowing Chicago to cut a lead over 20 points down to one in the fourth quarter.
“I’m not that concerned by it, I can tell you that,” Rivers said. “They’ve been great overall. Last night they were great in the first half, and today they were great in the first half. The second half was where they didn’t finish the game. They’ve been finishing games all year. Again, I’m not that concerned by it. We just have done it two games in a row.”
One option for Rivers on Wednesday is cutting down to nine players and keeping a starter(s) on the floor with the second unit at all times. Even if his starters’ minutes increase very slightly over the first three quarters, the hope would be that the Sixers can build a big enough lead to let their stars relax in the fourth, unlike in Chicago.
Passing practice for Embiid
In addition to securing the No. 1 seed, Joel Embiid cares about staying healthy and “trying to get guys involved,” he said Monday.
He’s also looking to refine his own passing.
“As far as giving confidence to everybody else, I’m also trying to work on my game, because a lot of attention is going to be on me when we get to that stage,” Embiid said. “I’m also trying to get my confidence when it comes to passing and where to put guys, and how we play off of each other. That’s really been my focus, just getting my teammates involved and putting them in spots to succeed.”
Embiid dished out a season-high nine assists in the Sixers’ Feb. 17 win over the Rockets. He had six turnovers in that game, too.
Overall, though, the most significant improvement with Embiid’s passing this season has been his decreased turnovers. He’s seemed to have better awareness of where both his teammates and the defense are stationed, and to have thrown fewer high-risk passes as a result. Embiid’s 12.3 turnover percentage would be the lowest of his career, according to Cleaning the Glass.