The streaking Philadelphia 76ers will look to win their fifth straight game in a road contest against the Los Angeles Clippers Saturday.
Currently the top seed in the Eastern Conference, the Sixers have won 10 of their last 11 games and are a perfect 3-0 so far on their six-game road trip.
Even more impressive, Philadelphia has a 7-1 record without the services of MVP candidate Joel Embiid, who has been out since March 12 after suffering a left ankle sprain against the Washington Wizards.
“Everybody is playing confident basketball,” Philadelphia guard Seth Curry said. “We’re first and foremost playing good defense as a team. That’s pretty much there every night for us on the defensive end. And offensively, everybody’s involved.”
Forward Ben Simmons has been the catalyst for Philadelphia, getting everyone involved on offense and setting the tone defensively. During the month of March, Simmons is shooting 51 percent from the floor, averaging 15.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists a contest.
“What I love about Ben is he still defends,” said Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers, when asked about Simmons’ scoring and taking care of the basketball. Simmons had seven turnovers in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday. “He still does all the other things to help us win a game.”
Rivers faces his former team in the Clippers for the first time since being relieved of his duties last year.
“It will be nice,” Rivers said. “My stint with the Clippers I really believe helped change that franchise. And, when you hear that name now, you don’t think bad things. You think good things. That was one of my goals, and the other goal was to win a title. So, I was one-for-two.”
The Sixers will have to wait for new addition George Hill, acquired as part of a three-way trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the New York Knicks. Hill just recently got his cast removed from surgery on his right thumb and is expected out another week.
The Clippers will look to keep their four-game win streak alive against Philadelphia, with the two teams meeting for the first time this season this weekend.
L.A. will be playing short-handed, with big man Serge Ibaka (back), swingman Marcus Morris Sr. (calf), point guard Patrick Beverley (knee) and Kawhi Leonard (foot) all questionable to play against Philadelphia.
The Clippers had only nine healthy players available in Thursday’s win on the road against the San Antonio Spurs. However, swingman Paul George picked up the slack, finishing with 24 points and 13 rebounds as the Clippers swept the Spurs in back-to-back games at San Antonio.
New addition point guard Rajon Rondo, received in a trade at Thursday’s deadline with Atlanta, also is a question mark for Saturday with an abductor strain.
Looking to add a point guard that can run a team with playoff experience and veteran savvy, the Clippers should get a spark with the addition of 35-year-old Rondo — if he’s healthy.
“His passing ability, his leadership, his basketball IQ — just all of those intangibles that a point guard brings,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said about adding Rondo. “He’s done it at a high level with winning a championship on two different teams, the two winningest franchises in the history of the game.
“The resume of the guys he’s played with, the guys he’s led to these championships as well. Just in being in the playoffs, a lot of dogfights in Boston and coming back last year and winning the championship with the Lakers. Just everything he does. And when he gets to the playoffs, he’s a different player and we all know that.”
–Field Level Media