By Tom Long, Sports Talk Philly Staff
The Philadelphia 76ers will play their final preseason game tonight against the Miami Heat after beating the Brooklyn Nets 133-114. The Sixers, with Joel Embiid on the court, hope to end their preseason in Kansas City with a victory.
Markelle Fultz and Amir Johnson will not play tonight, dealing with knee and ankle injuries, respectively. Fultz, who has not played well in the preseason, will be forced to head into the season battling a swollen knee.
Dario Saric is coming off of a 26 point (5-8 3fg) night against the Nets, a performance that was mostly overshadowed due to Embiid's return to the court. And, to be honest, Saric has been wonderful to watch so far, delighting us with his shooting and presence on the floor.
Embiid, Embiid, Embiid:
Joel Embiid is the obvious key to the Sixers success, after posting a phenomenal 22 point, 7 rebound, 3 assist night against the Nets. All eyes will be on Embiid during his projected 12-15 minutes of playing time tonight. Embiid will face a somewhat talented Heat frontcourt, featuring Justise Winslow, newly acquired Kelley Olynyk, and Hassan Whiteside.
Embiid will be feeling like he is back in school after spending the last couple days at Kansas University, where Embiid starred for one season. The local media flocked to Embiid in a homecoming of sorts before tonight's neutral site game in Kansas City, Missouri.
Continue to watch Embiid's chemistry with his teammates grow, as the new core continues to find ways to be most efficient and productive.
Embiid will play 12-15 minutes tonight, hopefully not a trend that will continue into the regular season. If a minutes restriction is going to be implemented, it is already in effect. Hopefully, though, this is just easing Embiid into game-time speeds.
Sixers bench fights for minutes:
The Sixers bench, as a whole, as not played well in the preseason. However, there are still many positional battles and players fighting for minutes to watch tonight. With J.J Redick and Robert Covington solidifying their positions in the lineup, there is only space for a select few. Nik Stauskas, Justin Anderson, Furkan Korkmaz, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabbarot are all in an open battle for the remaining minutes.
It is tough to determine who has the edge heading into tonights game, as they have all shown flashes of excellence, while also showing signs of incompetency. Tonight should be a big night for these individuals - keep an eye on their presence on the floor.
Jahlil Okafor has undoubtedly made the best of his limited minutes in the preseason, shooting well over 70% from the floor. Keep an eye out for how he is able to co-exist with Embiid, if they're on the floor together. Historically, they haven't meshed well, however I'd like to think they can both be effective. Now that Embiid is back, it will be interesting to see how Okafor is rotated in - if at all.
While, as Head Coach Brett Brown has already indicated, Robert Covington's playing time is not in danger, I would like to see more production on the offensive side of the ball. His shooting, as normal for Ro-Co, has seemed a bit streaky in the preseason. Look for this to improve tonight and going forward.
Also, just watch Covington on defense tonight - it is truly fun to see. Covington has been accredited with possessing lock down defense, to which he showcases every night.
|Matchup Preview | October 13, 2017|
Where: Sprint Center | Kansas City, Missouri
When: 8:30 p.m. ET
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic