The Sixers gave fans a Christmas gift this past Monday when they ended their five-game losing streak with a victory over the New York Knicks.
The game against the Knicks was the second of a five-game road trip. The Sixers will begin a string of games against Western Conference teams tonight when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers – who have lost six consecutive games at home.
Justin Anderson set to make return
The Sixers will be getting somewhat of a boost with Justin Anderson expected to make his return from a lengthy bout with shin splints.
Anderson played 10 games before being sidelined, averaging 5.0 points and 2.7 rebounds in 12.6 minutes off of the bench. Anderson was averaging a career-best 34.6 success rate from three-point range.
Outside of T.J. McConnell and the newly acquired Trevor Booker the Sixers have struggled to receive consistency from the bench. Anderson is not a reliable scorer but he is an incredibly active defender and brings the same relentless energy that Booker and McConnell do.
Joel Embiid vs Jusuf Nurkic
The last time the Sixers and Blazers met the Sixers won 101-81, led by a dominant night from Joel Embiid that included 28 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks, and even a sky hook that wowed the audience.
Jusuf Nurkic posted a nice stat line of 14 points and 11 rebounds on that night, but he had no answer for Embiid.
This writer attended that contest and throughout the game you could see Jusuf Nurkic hunched over with his hands on his knees as he tried to catch his breath. Embiid was obviously too much for Nurkic to handle, and it will be interesting to see if Portland has an answer for Embiid this time around.
Damian Lillard out
In the aforementioned meeting between the Blazers and Sixers Damian Lillard led all scorers with 30 points.
Lillard has missed the last two games with a sore hamstring, and he stated that he intends to return for tonight's game against the Sixers.
Despite Lillard's claim that he will return, his injury status has recently been downgraded to questionable according to Mike Richman of the Oregon Sun:
Blazers now adding Damian Lillard to the injury report after he was removed from it yesterday. He is listed as questionable to play tonight vs. Philly.
— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) December 28, 2017
Lillard was ruled out about an hour prior to tip off. Expect Shabazz Napier to get the start in Lillard's place. Napier scored 13 off of the bench in the first meeting between the two teams.