Quick programming note: I will be out of town this weekend and away from consistent internet access. Don’t fret, as we’ve got you covered. Colin is taking the Sunday game against the Mavericks and Conrad will preview the Monday game against the Hornets. So you’ll be in good hands while I’m away.
When Houston started this stretch against three of the top teams in the East, I mentioned that Houston needed to go at least 2-1 during those games to keep themselves in the race for homecourt advantage. Well, Houston is 2-0 and looking to get greedy tonight as they welcome the Philadelphia 76ers to Toyota Center.
Philly is one of four teams that still have a chance to sweep the Rockets this season (Milwaukee, Minnesota, and the Clippers are the other three). I used to think players didn’t care about this kind of stuff, but in recent years it’s become apparent that players really hold grudges and look to get revenge.
In the first matchup between these teams, the Sixers dominated. Here are some things that happened in that game (featuring bullet points, The Lazy Man’s best friend! -h/t Xiane).
- Philly was missing Jimmy Butler and the Rockets were missing Chris Paul and Clint Capela.
- Joel Embiid took 17 free throws. As you’ve probably heard, players that draw fouls and shoot free throws are ruining the game and are not fun to watch. After the game, Embiid talked about how the game was fun since the Sixers won by 30.
- It was Kenneth Faried’s first game with Houston. He had been brought in to help replace Capela’s minutes.
- Austin Rivers scored zero points on 0-5 shooting.
- Eric Gordon shot 2-13 from the field.
- James Ennis III played for the Rockets.
- The Sixers outrebounded the Rockets by 20 and blocked 14 shots.
- Corey Brewer had just signed a 10-day contract and shot 5-10 from the field, endearing himself quickly to Sixers fans. That included a much-ballyhooed play in which Harden slipped to the ground and Brewer continued to defend him.
- Landry Shamet shot 7-13 from the field off the bench for Philly and finished with 18 points.
Here are some things that are true now:
- Jimmy Butler, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela are all available tonight.
- Joel Embiid is out with a knee issue.
- Kenneth Faried is questionable with a hip injury.
- Austin Rivers has been looking much better lately, and he made some big plays against Toronto on Tuesday night.
- Eric Gordon has also started to look like last season’s Eric Gordon, which is a direct result of getting to play more minutes with Chris Paul against bench units.
- James Ennis III plays for the Sixers.
- Houston still gets outrebounded.
- Corey Brewer is a Sacramento King.
- Landry Shamet is a Clipper. He was a part of the deal to acquire Tobias Harris.
It’s a big game for Houston as they continue to push for a top 3 seed in the Western Conference. Houston is unlikely to get much help from the teams around and ahead of them, so they have to take matters into their own hands and keep winning at a high clip.
Tip-off is at 7pm CT on ESPN