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Houston Rockets vs. Philadelphia 76ers game preview

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Houston Rockets v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

After their most complete performance of the year against the Denver Nuggets, the Rockets play another team with big aspirations when they welcome the Philadelphia 76ers to the Toyota Center.

The Sixers won impressively on Christmas Day over the Milwaukee Bucks. They thoroughly dominated the team with the best record in the East and shut down Giannis Antetokounmpo. Since that game, Philly has dropped their three most recent contests, all on the road against playoff teams. Two of those losses (Orlando and Miami) were by one point, and the other (Indiana) came without all-everything Joel Embiid. The 76ers are 16-2 at home but just 7-11 on the road.

It’s clear that Philadelphia has the talent to beat anyone on any given night when healthy. They came one miracle shot away from making the Eastern Conference Finals last year and could easily have been the team knocking off the Warriors in the Finals. Instead, they had to reload bringing in Al Horford and Josh Richardson at the cost of Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick. The Rockets have struggled to contain Ben Simmons, and tonight will likely be no different. And even if they find a way to slow him down, there’s still Tobias Harris and the aforementioned players to corral.

The Rockets should be at relatively full strength again tonight, with Eric Gordon still on a minutes restriction. James Harden has a banged up toe and seemed to twist his ankle in the Denver game, but didn’t miss any game time for it. Houston will need Russell Westbrook to be aggressive against the interior defense of Embiid and Horford. If the Rockets can get the Philly big men in trouble, this game could tilt in Houston’s favor.

Tip-off is at 7pm CT on ESPN