To begin a Charlotte-Indiana back-to-back this weekend, the streaking 76ers (46-22 overall, 20-12 away) visit the Hornets (22-49) for some Friday night hoops. The Sixers recently extended their NBA-best winning streak to six games with a double-digit comeback over the Cavaliers, in Cleveland, on Wednesday.
Joel Embiid – who turned 29 years old on Thursday – teamed up with James Harden and Tyrese Maxey to combine for 87 points the night before his birthday.
The Cavaliers are the most recent opponent not only for the Sixers, but the Hornets as well.
Cleveland won a pair of games in Charlotte before falling to the Sixers at home.
The Hornets’ active leading scorer is Terry Rozier (21.5 PPG), with LaMelo Ball (23.3 PPG) sidelined for the remainder of the season following successful surgery to address a fracture in his right ankle.
Cody Martin (out - left knee soreness) and Mark Williams (out - right thumb sprain) joined their teammate Ball (out - right ankle surgery) on the Thursday evening injury report. Former Hornet Jalen McDaniels (questionable - right hip contusion) – acquired by the Sixers at the trade deadline – missed the previous game.
Friday is the third and final game of the season series between the two teams. Like the Cleveland series, the home team also won each of the previous two meetings in this matchup: Nov. 23 in Charlotte (107-101) and Dec. 11 in South Philadelphia (131-113).
In the December win, Embiid went off for 53 points (20-32 fg, 2-3 3fg, 11-11 ft) and 12 rebounds. Harden delivered 19 points and 16 assists, plus nine rebounds.
In the Sixers’ 118-109 win over the Cavaliers in their last game, Harden made franchise history by surpassing Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain and Maurice Cheeks with his 32nd point-assist double-double of the season.
Embiid posted his seventh straight 30-point game with a game-high 36 points.
“Keep winning games,” Embiid said of his focus. “Get better every single day. One game at a time. Like I said, try to get better every single day. Try to find ways to win, what works offensively, what works defensively. We're in a pretty good spot.”
“That's why he's one of the best bigs to ever play the game,” Harden said when asked about Embiid’s combination of power and finesse. “I don't think we've seen a big like him. He can handle the ball, he can shoot it, he can be powerful when he needs to be. I'm just glad he's on my team, that we're on the same team. Just trying to find ways every single game to make his job easier, our job easier, and he's doing a good job of leading us.”
Friday is a 7 p.m. ET tipoff in Charlotte.
Wednesday’s Top Performances:
- In 38 minutes at Cleveland, Embiid added a game-high 18 rebounds to his 36 points (12-19 fg, 2-5 3fg, 10-10 ft), plus three assists and four blocks.
- Harden’s franchise record-setting double-double (32 point-assist double-doubles in a single season) included 28 points, six rebounds, a game-high 12 assists and three steals in 40 minutes.
- Behind a stellar 5-for-7 shooting effort from 3-point range, Maxey finished the contest with 23 points, four rebounds, and three assists in 35 minutes.
- Milton (11 points) connected on all three of his 3-point attempts in 21 minutes off the bench.
Quote to Note:
Embiid, on being at his best…
“I don't think I'm at my best yet. I think I'm trending towards that. I think I've got a lot more to give. Defensively, I'm getting there. I'm getting back to myself. Usually, I take another step in the playoffs. The last couple games, that has been a huge focus for me, especially since the All-Star break. I've got a long way to go, but I’m getting better every single day.”
Follow Along Friday:
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic