Things to watch: Sixers versus Trail Blazers
The Sixers will kick off the second half of their seeding games Sunday against the Portland Trail Blazers. This game will arguably be the Sixers' biggest challenge yet. Here are some things to watch ahead of the matchup.
Who wins the size battle
A common theme against the Sixers' first four opponents was they typically ran small lineups, that will not be the case in this game. The Blazers run a big frontcourt with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins that will have the size to match the Sixers.
Joel Embiid has had his way with just about every player an opponent has thrown at him so far in Orlando. He is going to have his hands full down low in this one with multiple bigs being thrown at him. It will be interesting to see if Embiid can sustain his dominance and if he and Al Horford can win the battle of the bigs down low.
Containing Lillard and McCollum
If the Sixers want to walk away with the win in this game, this needs to be the main point of emphasis. Portland's backcourt is one of the top-scoring duos in the league and will bury you if you give them the chance. Containing them is one of the biggest keys to victory.
Shake Milton and Josh Richardson are going to have their hands full chasing these two around. They have the length to contest their shots, the focus should be to defend with energy and make them earn every basket.
Shake Milton the facilitator
One of the main things the Sixers are losing in Ben Simmons is his ability to run the offense. Simmons was one of the league leaders in assists per game this season, leaving a big hole the Sixers need to fill in his absence. Through one game, Shake Milton seems to be up for the challenge.
After a rough start in the first seeding game, Milton has locked in. He has not only been taking care of the basketball but he is only showing he can be a facilitator when called upon. In the team's last three games he has picked up 15 assists to just two turnovers, including eight assists in the team's last game against the Magic.
With more opportunity for Milton on offense, he is going to be called up more to be the primary ball-handler. Hopefully, Milton can continue to grow as a facilitator and show he can run the offense.