Things to Watch: Sixers Versus Pacers
After picking up a win in Minnesota on Friday, the Sixers continue their road trip. Next up is a Sunday night matchup against the Indiana Pacers. Here are three things to watch in the matchup.
Big man battles
Similar to the Lakers, the Pacers are one of the few teams in the NBA that still roll out an old-school frontcourt. With Myles Turner and Damontas Sabonis in the lineup, Indiana will have a lot of size to throw at Joel Embiid.
The Lakers had that same amount of size to slow Embiid, but it still wasn't enough to contain the MVP frontrunner. How he handles going against two capable bigs again will be a major storyline to watch in this game.
Embiid has had success against the Pacers in the past. In 10 career games against them, he has averaged 28.4 PPG and 12.6 RPG. He's going to have his hands full in the frontcourt, but if he can continue to draw fouls at the rate he has been it should make his life a little easier.
Since the Sixers have gotten back to full health, one thing that has stood out is the depth this team showed early on in the season. In this recent stretch, the Sixers have gotten solid production from players like Shake Milton, Furkan Korkmaz, Tyrese Maxey, and Matisse Thybulle.
If Doc Rivers can continue to get good minutes out of those players, it makes the team even more dangerous with the play of their three stars. The Pacers do not have much depth on their roster, so the bench battle will be something to watch in this matchup.
With the scoring ability of Milton and Maxey paired with the defense Thybulle has been playing, the Sixers' second unit can give teams problems. Doc Rivers said earlier this season that he felt the bench unit was going to win some games for the team this year, and this could be one of those games.
Making the Pacers settle for jump shots
With Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid leading the charge, it's no surprise that the Sixers are one of the top defensive teams in the league this season. When defending this Pacers team, the Sixers should look to clog the lane and make them settle for perimeter shots.
Clogging up the lane will make life harder for Sabonis, whose offensive game is centered around his post play. The other reason they should do it is that the Pacers have not been a good team shooting the long ball this season.
Heading into this matchup, Indiana currently sits at 18th in the league in three-point percentage at 35.7%. On top of that, they also might be without Doug McDermott in this game, who is one of their top shooters from beyond the arc.
The Pacers' only threats from deep are Malcolm Brogdon and Justin Holiday, the rest you can live with settling for shots on the outside. If Embiid can make life hard for the Pacers around the rim and turn them into jump shooters, it could lead to a Sixers' victory.
Kevin McCormick is the 76ers beat writer for 97.3 ESPN and 76ers editor for Sportstalkphilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevinMcC973.