By Connor Thomas
In a preview of the Sixers – Lakers game earlier this week, there were so many storylines to cover that it was hard to mention everything in a singular post. Tonight’s matchup is the opposite of that. Not to undersell, but this game is certainly not the most exciting on the NBA slate. The Timberwolves are a reeling team, that despite winning the #1 overall pick in this past year’s draft lottery and selecting a future star in Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, have failed to make much improvement over last year’s dumpster fire season. A large reason for the lack of improvement has been the amount of time Minnesota has been without All-Star Center Karl Anthony-Towns. KAT has missed time both with injury, and most recently, as a result of a positive COVID test. While he is close to returning to play, it would not be crazy to assume he will again be unavailable for tonight’s game against the Sixers. The rest of the Timberwolves roster? Well, to be nice let’s just say it leaves a lot to be desired. But Philly’s status for tonight is not all “sunshine and rainbows” as Rocky Balboa would say. Wait, but didn’t they just beat the best team in basketball two days ago? Yes, and it was a great win. Don’t the Sixers have an MVP frontrunner in Joel Embiid? For tonight’s game, that answer is maybe. Embiid is again dealing with back stiffness, an issue that sidelined him for Monday night’s game in Detroit that saw the Sixers lose to a last place Pistons team by 15.
In fact, for all the team’s success so far this year, they are still winless in games where Embiid does not suit up. After that debacle in Detroit earlier in the week, the margin of those losses combined is a whopping 53 points. That is what folks in the business would call not great. If Philly’s big man is unable to play, we may be in for another uninspired game in which Doc Rivers’ side plays down to a much lesser opponent. If Embiid is able to tough it out and play in Minnesota tonight, the Sixers should absolutely steamroll a Timberwolves side that may be heading into a tank for a 2nd straight season. Either way, tonight is nowhere near the appointment television that Wednesday’s battle of the titans was. These are the games, though, that the Sixers will have to win in order to continue their reign as the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
The offensive matchup of the game for the Sixers, if Joel Embiid is able to play, is him against whoever is unlucky enough to have to guard him. If he plays a full game against Minnesota, he may score 60.
The defensive matchup of the game for the Sixers will be Ben Simmons’ coverage of either Malik Beasley or D’Angelo Russell. Without Karl Anthony-Towns, Beasley and Russell are the Wolves top scorers. If Simmons shuts down one of those two, Minnesota should have no chance.
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Radio: Right here on 97.5 The Fanatic!