Joel Embiid-less 76ers visit the Blazers tonight

by Kevin Nesgoda

The Blazers have a bit of an early Christmas present (there are 26 days until Christmas music is allowed by the way) coming to them this year. Joe Embiid is suspended for the game tonight as the undefeated Philadelphia 76ers (4-0) visit the Portland Trail Blazers (3-2) tonight at Moda Center.

Embiid was suspended two games for his donnybrook with Karl-Anthony Towns a few nights ago. The two have a little bit of an unfriendly history and finally decided it was GO TIME. Now the big shoots for the Sixers coming into the game is Ben Simmons. The Sixers are going to be missing almost 24 points and 11 boards from Embiid. Not sure who is going to start in the place of Embiid, both Al Horford and Mike Scott filling in at the four for Horford.

Simmons did a great job for the Sixers last year in guarding Damian Lillard. He held Dame to an average of 16 points a game in the two meetings last season (both Blazer blowout wins). The 76ers are going to need someone besides Simmons, Horford, and Tobias Harris to step up and score some points.

Josh Richardson seems to be the guy the cards point to. He was a first or second option in Miami last year and has been relegated to the third, fourth, and sometimes the fifth option this year for the 76ers. He’s put together a string of 30 point games in the past. He can score and CJ McCollum is going to need to spend a lot of time playing defense to keep him in check. Richardson so far this season is averaging just over 13 points a game this year.

With the Sixers missing Embiid it takes some of the sting out of missing Zach Collins. He was a good off the ball compliment in both scoring and rebounding to Hassan Whiteside in the post. Anthony Tolliver will still have quite a bit to handle in Horford and Scott. I’d much rather have Kent Bazemore start and have Tolliver come off the bench. Bazemore gives the Blazers better energy on both ends of the court. Scott does spend more time beyond the arc than in the paint so Bazemore is going to be a better matchup.

Rodney Hood has a favorable matchup early in the game. I’m a little nervous when Matisse Thybulle comes in later in the game and starts causing havoc on the defensive end. Thybulle is a rookie out of the University of Washington and he only has five points off the bench in four games for the Sixers, but is averaging a block and a half a game and three! The kid is pure defense. He might already be one of the five best perimeter defenders in the league right now. He and Simmons are going to lockdown Dame and CJ late in the game so the Blazers are going to need scoring from somewhere.

That scoring is going to need to come from Hood or from Anfernee Simons. If I were Stotts I think I’d trot out a three-guard lineup a lot. Simmons and Thybulle can not guard everyone. They can switch out to everyone, but they can’t guard everyone.

Injury Report

Hassan Whiteside – Out (knee) — updated
Zach Collins – Out (shoulder)
Pau Gasol – Out (foot)
Jusuf Nurkic – Out (leg)

Joel Embiid – Out (suspended)
Josh Richardson – Game-time decision (toe)
Shake Milton – Out (knee)

Game info

Place: Moda Center
Time: 7:00 PM

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