Game Preview | Calling on Young Talent

by Lauren Rosen

Friday in New York City, the 76ers (12-6) will look to capture their sixth win in seven games.

No place like Madison Square Garden to get it. 

The Sixers, however, will try to keep momentum rolling short handed. 

With Al Horford (rest) and Kyle O’Quinn (left calf strain) sidelined, and Josh Richardson (right hamstring tightness) doubtful for Friday’s contest, there figures to be chances for the team’s young talent.

“Norvel (Pelle) for sure will get an opportunity, as will some of those young wings,” Brett Brown said.

For two-way player Pelle (who swatted five blocks during a breakout performance against Detroit in the preseason), playing time Friday would mean his first taste of regular season NBA action.

“It’s definitely exciting. My first NBA real game to play... And in Madison Square Garden? That’s crazy,” Pelle said.

Pelle is expected to back up Joel Embiid, who is coming off a huge performance at home Wednesday, when he finishes with 33 points and 16 rebounds in the team’s win over the Kings.

Zhaire Smith and Marial Shayok also traveled to New York with the squad, after spending time with the Blue Coats earlier this month.

“Zhaire, Marial, to see those guys, have them be included in our group again - it’s a good thing,” Brown said. “I personally like seeing them, I know that they enjoy being around their teammates, and their teammates around them.” 

Tobias Harris can confirm.

“It feels good to have them back,” Harris said. “My brother (Terry Harris) plays in the G League team, so I always keep up and reach out to them during the season. Mar’s been playing great down there, really been able to score the ball at a high level.”

With the usual rotation shortened, Friday’s contest brings a host of possibilities for that group of players.

“This is where opportunities meet preparation,” Brown said.

For Pelle, that preparation means keeping a positive mindset.

“[I] just try to put all the negativity behind me and focus on the positive things. You have one life to live, and we’re playing a great sport… So there’s nothing to be mad about,” Pelle said.

His next opportunity to play that great sport will come under some of its brightest lights.

Friday’s contest tips at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Opponent Outlook:

The Knicks have lost four straight - a streak that began with a loss to the Sixers in South Philadelphia on Nov. 20. Marcus Morris Sr. was New York’s leading scorer in that contest, finishing with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Morris leads the team in scoring this season, averaging 18.6 points per game.

Follow Along:

Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia / MyTeams App

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