clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Houston Rockets vs. Philadelphia 76ers game preview

The Rockets look to snap a 2-game skid against the visiting Sixers

NBA: Houston Rockets at Philadelphia 76ers
One of these players is a superstar center. The other is Joel Embiid.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Which of these teams will fare better without two key pieces?

For the Houston Rockets, Dillon Brooks is their tone-setter. His tenacity is the keystone for Houston’s defense, and his ability to make shots from deep is something that the Rockets are clearly sorely missing. Jabari Smith Jr. had been playing well until the Indiana game, and now a bad ankle injury will keep him out for some time. Not all injuries are created equal, but it bears remembering that Amen Thompson missed over a month with an ankle injury of his own (though part of that was a G-League stint to knock off some rust that Smith Jr. presumably won’t need). Jabari’s ability to score from deep and the midrange helps spread out opposing defenses. His length on defense makes him a terror, especially when combined with Brooks and/or Jae’Sean Tate and Tari Eason.

So if you could pick areas where Houston will suffer without Brooks and Smith Jr., those areas would be...offense and defense. Uh oh. Game over. Sixers by 100. Wait why is the line Houston -1.5?

Because Joel Embiid is out tonight for the Philadelphia 76ers as well. The reigning, defending, undisputed MVP of the Association was on a tear that even prime James Harden would have found impressive. Embiid has scored 30 or more points in 14 straight contests. He’s eclipsed 40 points five times in that stretch, and crossed the 50-point mesa twice. Embiid’s numbers and Philadelphia’s success give him a real shot at a second consecutive MVP, but sometimes voters don’t care if you average 35 points per game, as Harden found out in 2019. Then, it was Giannis Antetokounmpo who was the apple of the media’s eye. This year, it feels like Luka Doncic and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could pull some votes away from Embiid.

The Sixers will also be without Nicolas Batum, whose shooting numbers from the floor are at career highs. He’s started in 14 of the 17 games he’s appeared in for the Sixers this season, and probably figures heavily into their plans this season. Veterans like Batum always provide value in the playoffs, and with the East basically looking the same as last season (Boston, Milwaukee, and Philly at the top), the margins will be razor-thin for those contenders.


7pm CT

How to Watch

Space City Home Network



Jabari Smith Jr.-OUT (ankle)

Dillon Brooks-OUT (abdominal)


Joel Embiid-OUT (ankle)

Nicolas Batum-OUT (hamstring)

The Line (as of this post)

HOU -1.5

Looking ahead because we can

Monday at home against the Pistons



Which team is missing more talent tonight?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Houston (Dillon Brooks and Jabari Smith Jr.)
    (16 votes)
  • 81%
    Philadelphia (Joel Embiid and Nicolas Batum)
    (70 votes)
86 votes total Vote Now