The Philadelphia 76ers will take on the injury-depleted New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center on Friday night. This will be the first meeting between the two teams with more than a month to go before the playoffs.
Reeling from two straight blowout losses, the New Orleans Pelicans will have no reprieve in sight as they take on one of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. First, it was a 123-107 trouncing at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. Next came the 139-111 rout to the Brooklyn Nets in Kevin Durant’s first game back from injury.
The Philadelphia 76ers won’t give them a pass just because of their injury situation, as the visitors want the first seed in the Eastern Conference. With Joel Embiid back after a 10-game absence, the Sixers are primed to retake the top spot that they lost to the Brooklyn Nets a few days ago.
Fixture - Philadelphia 76ers vs New Orleans Pelicans | 2020-21 NBA Season
Date & Time - Friday, April 9th, 8:00 PM ET (Saturday, April 10th, 5:30 AM IST)
Venue - Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
Philadelphia 76ers Preview
The Philadelphia 76ers are just a half-game behind the Brooklyn Nets for the best record in the East, a distinction that the visitors held for a long time until recently. Embiid’s return is a huge plus for the Sixers, but it also throws a wrench into their flow since he went down weeks ago.
However, having an MVP candidate on the floor is always better, and it’s up to coach Doc Rivers to continue to adapt to the four-time All-Star’s presence while helping him get back in rhythm. He seemed pretty good against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday after scoring 35 points as the Philadelphia 76ers beat their Eastern Conference rivals, 106-96.
It was the Philadelphia 76ers' third victory in four games, and they have a chance to continue their streak when they take on the New Orleans Pelicans, who are spiraling downwards fast.
Key Player - Joel Embiid
Rivers will be careful not to overexert Joel Embiid who had just returned last Saturday from a bruised knee.
The third pick of the 2014 draft was a handful for the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, and he is going to be a tough matchup for the New Orleans Pelicans as well. The Philadelphia 76ers star shot 9-of-19 from the field versus the Celtics but made 16-of-20 free throws to get to his total.
Steven Adams will have the unenviable task of guarding Embiid and keeping him from dominating, especially down low. If the New Orleans Pelicans big man can keep his opponent off the free-throw line while playing him straight up, that’s all the Pelicans can ask for.
Then again, that’s easier said than done, as the Philadelphia 76ers center is as versatile as any 7-footer in the league.
Philadelphia 76ers Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Ben Simmons l Shooting Guard - Seth Curry l Small Forward - Danny Green l Power Forward - Tobias Harris l Center - Joel Embiid
New Orleans Pelicans Preview
Having lost four of their last five games, the New Orleans Pelicans are looking to redeem themselves from back-to-back embarrassing losses. It will be an uphill battle, with the injury bug hitting them hard. Brandon Ingram and Kira Lewis Jr. are day-to-day, so there’s a chance that they’ll see action on Friday.
However, Josh Hart and Nickeil Alexander-Walker will be out until at least later this month. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but the New Orleans Pelicans can’t feel sorry for themselves. The Philadelphia 76ers won’t be, so Zion Williamson and company will have to hold the fort for a while.
Fortunately for the Pelicans, the Philadelphia 76ers are a middle-of-the-pack offensive team (14th in offensive rating) but are 10th in scoring. For a poor defensive team like the New Orleans Pelicans, this is a bit of a positive, and it leaves the door open for an upset.
Key Player - Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson’s streak of 25 consecutive games of 20 points or more on 50 percent or better shooting was snapped against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, leaving him tied with Shaquille O'Neal for the record.
The New Orleans Pelicans forward scored just 16 points on 4-of-12 shooting (33.3%) in 22 minutes.
Williamson tied O’Neal within a two-month period. That’s how good he is at converting his shots around the basket.
It’s a learning opportunity for the 20-year old, who will face a team with the second-best defense in the league. The Philadelphia 76ers have undoubtedly taken note of how the Nets defended him, making it imperative for Williamson to take Wednesday’s lesson to heart.
New Orleans Pelicans Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Lonzo Ball l Shooting Guard - Eric Bledsoe l Small Forward - James Johnson l Power Forward - Zion Williamson l Center - Steven Adams
Sixers vs Pelicans Match Prediction
Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris took charge for the Philadelphia 76ers when Embiid was out, and the duo will be another headache that the New Orleans Pelicans will have to contend with.
If Ingram doesn’t suit up again, it will be a long night for the home team. It’s already a tall order if he were on the floor, but it will be near impossible without the 6-foot-8 forward around.
Regardless of Ingram’s availability, don’t be surprised to see the Philadelphia 76ers come out on top at the expense of the New Orleans Pelicans in the end.