Things to Watch in Sixers Versus Pacers
The Sixers kick off their eight seeding games Saturday night, facing off against the Indiana Pacers. This is a big matchup for both teams as the winner will get sole possession of the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Here are three things to watch heading into their matchup.
This is one player the Sixers need to focus on in this game. Although Warren isn’t a superstar talent, he has had his way against the Sixers this year.
In the three games the two teams squared off against each other Warren punished the Sixers, averaging 23.7 PPG on 65.1% shooting. If the Sixers want to walk away with a win in this game they need to focus on slowing him down on offense.
With no Domantas Sabonis in this game there is a good chance we see a lot of Ben Simmons matched up on Warren in this game. With guys like Josh Richardson and Matisse Thybulle also taking time defending him.
The return of Joel Embiid
After only playing one half in the three scrimmage games, Joel Embiid will be taking the floor against the Pacers. He has missed time due to a calf injury, but he has been taken off the Sixers’ injury report.
It is still not known how many minutes Embiid will play in this game, but he should look to dominate when he is out there. With Indiana losing Domantas Sabonis to injury, they have very little size outside of Myles Turner.
With the lack of size on this Pacers roster, we could see a lot of Embiid dominating in the post. If he can get Turner into foul trouble early Indiana will have no answer to throw at him under the rim.
Winning the battle on the perimeter
One thing the Sixers did extremely well in their three scrimmage games was play shutdown defense on the perimeter. They are going to need to keep up their defensive energy on the outside if they want to walk away with a win.
Since Indiana has lost Sabonis they have been running a smaller lineup and playing almost five out on offense. With Turner having the ability to stretch the floor, they have opened up the paint for guys like Oladipo, Brogdon, and Warren to slash at the rim.
The Sixers’ wings are going to have their hands full today chasing around a smaller faster Pacers team. They are going to have to focus on chasing their wings off the three-point line and make them attack the rim where Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons can help defend.
If the Sixers can take advantage of their size and keep up their strong defensive play on the perimeter they should walk away with a win in their first seeding game.
Kevin McCormick is the 76ers insider for 97.3 ESPN and 76ers editor for Sportstalkphilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevinMcC973.