The Sixers are 12-7, seeking to extend their winning streak to four games with the 10-7 New Orleans Pelicans in town, looking dangerous with Jimmy Butler on board, and still holding the only perfect home record (9-0) in the NBA.
Unfortunately, the off-court drama about Markelle Fultz was the big story Tuesday, not the team’s success.
At the recommendation of his agent Raymond Brothers, Fultz will have a consultation with a shoulder specialist in New York on Monday (see story). He won’t practice with the team or play in games until then.
It’s still unclear what that decision might mean for Fultz and the Sixers in the long term. In the short term, T.J. McConnell will step into Fultz’s spot as the second-unit point guard.
• Fultz’s absence could result in Landry Shamet occasionally shifting from shooting guard to point guard.
“My initial reaction is we can absorb this as it sits because of T.J,” Brown said Tuesday. “The question of who’s the third point guard, Shamet was a point guard in college. So you don’t have to look that far around.”
As Brown said, Shamet did play a lot of point guard at Wichita State. He had an excellent 2.73 assist to turnover ratio in college.
• Joel Embiid vs. Anthony Davis is a matchup of two big men with legitimate MVP aspirations.
Across the board, the two have very similar numbers. Embiid is outscoring Davis by 0.3 points per game and is averaging 0.7 more rebounds. Davis is shooting 2.3 percentage points higher, is averaging 0.6 more blocks and 0.9 more steals. Even the advanced defensive metrics are tight; opponents are shooting 45 percent against Embiid on 19.1 attempts per game, while Davis is defending 17.4 attempts per night with a 46.3 percent defensive field goal percentage.
It’s rare that Embiid plays a true peer, someone who can match up with him well on both ends of the floor.
Davis and Embiid have faced each other on just three previous occasions, two of which were in Embiid’s rookie year. Last season, Embiid had 24 points and 16 rebounds on Feb. 9, while Davis had 14 points and eight boards in a 100-82 Sixers win at Wells Fargo Center.
• The Pelicans have two notable former Sixers on the roster in Jrue Holiday and Jahlil Okafor. Though Holiday hasn’t made an All-Star team since the 2012-13 season with the Sixers, he’s been on the cusp plenty of times since. Since leaving the Sixers, he’s averaged 16.7 points, 6.8 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals. This season, his 9.2 assists per game are second in the NBA, behind only Kyle Lowry.
The best hope for Sixers fans wanting to see Okafor in action is likely a blowout. He hasn’t played more than two minutes in a game since Nov. 1.
New Orleans also has Tim Frazier, a Penn State product and member of the 2014-15 Sixers for six games.
Below are the essentials for Wednesday’s game.
Jonah Bolden, F, 6-10, 220, No. 43
Jimmy Butler, F, 6-8, 236, No. 23
Wilson Chandler, F, 6-9/225, No. 22
Joel Embiid, C, 7-0/260, No. 21
Markelle Fultz, G, 6-4/200, No. 20
* Demetrius Jackson, G, 6-1/200, No. 11
Amir Johnson, F/C, 6-9/240, No. 5
Furkan Korkmaz, G/F, 6-7/185, No. 30
T.J. McConnell, G, 6-2/190, No. 12
* Shake Milton, G, 6-6/205, No. 18
Mike Muscala, F/C, 6-11/240, No. 31
JJ Redick, G 6-4/195, No. 17 13
Landry Shamet, G, 6-5/190, No. 23
Ben Simmons, G/F, 6-10/230, No. 25
Zhaire Smith, G, 6-4/200, No. 8
Justin Patton, C, 6-11/229, No. 0
* Two-way player
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