By Connor Thomas
After a strong start to the 2020-21 NBA Season for the 76ers that has them sitting firmly atop the Eastern Conference standings, the team is packing up and heading to the West Coast for the week. The Sixers first big road trip of the year will be a 4 game stint that starts tonight at 10pm EST in Sacramento against the 12-11 Kings. For those of you up early reading this, it might be a struggle to stay up past midnight to catch these 10pm games, but luckily the numbers point to this first game of the trip not being as much of a struggle for the Sixers. First of all, Philly is coming off of 2 days of rest following their win against Brooklyn on Saturday night. In games where they have had 2 or more days of rest prior to tip off, they are 3-0 this year with a total win margin of 35 points. The Kings had a hard fought win on Sunday night in Los Angeles against the Clippers, so it would be safe to assume they are a little less rested than Philadelphia. Another benefit of the extra rest for the Sixers is that they should have all 5 starters active again considering all 5 started against Brooklyn on Saturday. When all Sixers starters… well, start, the team has been a perfect 13-0 on the season.
The Kings are not by any means a pushover team, with star PG De’Aaron Fox averaging a career high 23 PPG and Western Conference Rookie of the Month Tyrese Haliburton budding into an NBA caliber closer. The issue with Sacramento, as with most teams that line up against the Sixers, is that they will have trouble finding an answer for one Joel Hans Embiid. Embiid, who is poised to be an All-Star starter for the 3rd straight season, will have the pleasure of facing off against the tandem of Hassan Whiteside – who he usually handled easily when Whiteside was in Miami – and Richaun Holmes, who was Embiid’s 3rd string backup during his time in Philadelphia. It is hard to see how either of these options will slow down the dominant Sixers big man, who is averaging just a tick under 30 PPG and is going to the free throw line at a pace of about 11 times per game. While Sacramento does boast some strong scoring options in sharpshooting Buddy Hield, young stud Marvin Bagley, and veteran scorer Harrison Barnes, the issue will be their ability to control the size and strength of the Sixers. It seems like points in the paint and rebounds could both be dominant stats in Philadelphia’s favor later tonight.
The offensive matchup of the game for the Sixers has already been mentioned, but to reiterate, Joel Embiid against Hassan Whiteside/Richaun Holmes is another mismatch in a long list of mismatches. That is bound to happen when you are the best (or one of, considering Nikola Jokic) big man on the planet.
The defensive matchup of the game for the Sixers will be Ben Simmons on De’Aaron Fox. Fox is Sacramento’s go to guy in just about every situation, and is a volume shooter who can score from all 3 levels. The 6’3” Fox will not have as easy of a night as he’s used to against the 6’11” Simmons, however. If Ben is able to play his usual solid defensive game, it will go a long way to sealing a Sixers victory in Sactown.
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
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