Game: Philadelphia 76ers @ Golden State Warriors
Time: 10:00 p.m.
Odds: Sixers +6, Warriors -6
Hopefully, the Philadelphia 76ers will have Joel Embiid and James Harden back in the lineup tonight when they play the resurgent Golden State Warriors. The Sixers dominated the visiting Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night in a 116-91 win. Harden sat out the game with a sore left Achilles while Embiid took most of the night off because of tightness in his right calf.
Sixers head coach Doc Rivers found himself spending more time discussing Harden’s future than his star center’s availability for Friday. Embiid was sent to the bench once Philly had opened up a 28-point lead on the Bulls. Harden missed last Saturday’s game against Indiana before coming back to play 47 minutes in a double-overtime home loss to the Bulls on Monday.
Harden will not play if it’s still painful. Rivers stated that Philadelphia entered the playoffs in each of the last two seasons with injuries. He doesn’t want to do that this year. Therefore, the Sixers will do everything possible to make sure winning in the postseason is the main goal.
Back on Dec. 16, the 76ers defeated the Warriors at home, 118-106. Embiid scored a game-high 34 points and Harden contributed 27 points. Golden State played without Andrew Wiggins (strained right adductor), Draymond Green (bruised right quad), and Stephen Curry (dislocated left shoulder).
Golden State finished a 2-3 trip by defeating the Houston Rockets 121-108 on Monday and the Dallas Mavericks 127-125 on Wednesday despite still being without Wiggins (personal matters). This is just the second time this season that Golden State has won two straight road games. The Warriors are now just 9-29 on the road this year.
The Warriors are much better at home where they are 29-7 this season. They are currently sixth in the Western Conference playoff standings with a record of 38-36. Golden State has now won four consecutive home games and looks for a fifth tonight.
It was a particularly significant win against the Mavericks, who protested the game due to confusion with the officials. If Golden State had lost to Dallas, they would have dropped out of the top-6 in the West. The top six teams are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. Teams finishing seventh through tenth participate in the play-in tournament to determine the other two spots in the postseason.
Jonathan Kuminga, a backup, gave Golden State a boost in its two victories this week. The second-year player took advantage of playing time that would have otherwise gone to Wiggins and scored 17 points against Houston and 22 against Dallas while connecting on 16 of his 20 shots.
The Warriors have not stated when Wiggins might make a comeback, but the team announced on Thursday that Gary Payton II, who hasn’t played since being acquired from Portland last month due to problems with his core muscles, has been given the all-clear to practice on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s game against Minnesota.
The 76ers (49-23) are vying with the Boston Celtics (50-23) for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Like the Warriors, every game is crucial for Philadelphia. The Sixers will face the Suns and Nuggets to wrap up a four-game road trip.
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