Thu, 17 Jun 2021

Surging Sixers bid to stay hot vs. Pacers

Field Level Media
11 May 2021, 21:19 GMT+10

The Philadelphia 76ers will try to extend their season-best eight-game winning streak when they face the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis on Tuesday night.

The Sixers (47-21), who have been idle since Saturday's 118-104 win over the Detroit Pistons, lead the second-place Brooklyn Nets by three games. They can clinch the Eastern Conference's top seed with a win and a Nets' loss to the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Pacers (32-36) reside in ninth place in the East following a 111-102 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night. They lead the Washington Wizards by a half-game.

Indiana, which trails the eighth-place Charlotte Hornets by one game, can secure a berth in the play-in tournament with a win and a Bulls' loss.

Philadelphia has won both games against Indiana this season, most recently defeating the Pacers 130-114 at home on March 1.

If the Sixers are to sweep the season series, they may have to do so without Joel Embiid, who was listed as questionable on the NBA's injury report with an illness unrelated to COVID-19. Ben Simmons (back) and Seth Curry (hip) were not listed on the injury report, however.

Embiid scored 29 points against the Pistons as he continued to bolster a potential NBA Most Valuable Player campaign despite only playing in 49 of 68 games this season.

"I think it would be a feel-good thing for the entire locker room," Sixers coach Doc Rivers said. "It would mean that we not only have the MVP, but we have players, we have a good team and we're being a successful group."

Although Philadelphia has continued to find ways to win, it has had difficulty closing out several shorthanded opponents.

"These teams are not 100 percent healthy," Sixers forward Danny Green said recently. "They don't have everybody. And if we are going to play like the No. 1 team in the East or a championship contender or a team that wants to be the last team standing ... we need to do a lot better."

The Pacers represent another shorthanded foe for Philadelphia to overcome.

Indiana, which is already missing T.J. Warren (left foot stress fracture) and Myles Turner (right toe), again was without Malcolm Brogdon (hamstring), JaKarr Sampson (concussion) and Jeremy Lamb (knee). Sampson was on the road trip and worked out before the game, however.

The Pacers picked up 47 points from their bench Monday, led by Kelan Martin's career-best 25 points during a season-high 25 minutes.

Martin made 11 of 16 shots from the floor to complement another near triple-double from Domantas Sabonis (21 points, 20 rebounds, nine assists).

"We weathered the storm all night and Kelan carried us down the stretch," said Caris LeVert, who totaled 20 points and 10 assists.

"I'm really enjoying building chemistry with these guys and Domas is probably the best passing big man I've played with. He's a special talent."

Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren said there was some concern about Sabonis, who took a hit on his lower back during their loss to Washington on Saturday. Sabonis missed six games recently due to a lower back issue.

"He got treated. He's tough," Bjorkgren said.

Furkan Korkmaz (right ankle sprain) and Matisse Thybulle (left hand soreness) are expected to be unavailable for the Sixers.

--Field Level Media

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