Tip-off: 8pm ❖ Location: Milwaukee, WI ❖ TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia ❖ Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
The Philadelphia 76ers (24-22) have to put their Sunday night Oklahoma City defeat behind them fast as a quick turnaround has them facing the Milwaukee Bucks (26-22) this evening in the second half of a back-to-back. The Sixers beat the Bucks just nine days ago at the Wells Fargo Center, but Milwaukee was without phenom Giannis Antetokounmpo. That won't be the case tonight though as the Greek Freak has not skipped a beat after missing two games last week.
This game is the second half of a back-to-back for both teams.
Embiid almost cleared for back-to-backs
Joel Embiid will not play in his first career back-to-back after he seemed to be cleared for it yesterday. According to Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia, although the Sixers big man was given the okay to play in tonight's game prior to Sunday's matchup against the Thunder, he still needed to be cleared today and he wasn't. He had a strong night against the Thunder during Sunday's loss, tallying 27 points and 10 rebounds to go along with two assists and two blocks in 35 minutes and 32 seconds, the most game action since the Sixers' triple-OT loss to the same OKC team in December. Embiid did have four turnovers and is averaging 3.2 miscues per game over the last five.
It looks like the final restriction on Joel Embiid will be soon, but we'll have to wait a few more days. He will sit out tonight's game, but the Sixers plan to have him in action during both games of this weekend's back-to-back against the Heat in Philadelphia on Friday and in Indiana on Saturday, per Camerato.
Should Embiid still be held out of these games though? For a guy that has a history of foot injuries, or injuries in general, it's worth noting that Embiid is playing the most minutes of his basketball career. He seems to be falling down yet and hasn't leaped into the crowd chasing a loose ball, but it's worth noting that fatigue can play a part in injuries and that is what many believe happened in DeMarcus Cousins' situation. The Pelicans big man was having one of the best years of his career, playing the most minutes he's ever played. He played 52 minutes the Monday prior to his injury and was averaging over 38 minutes per game in January. Tom Haberstroh of Bleacher Report indicates that the pace of today's NBA combined with Cousins' size could have led to him rupturing his Achilllies tendon.
According to a 2015 study by Jeff Stotts of InStreetClothes.com, a site specializing in sports injuries, 64 percent of in-game ruptures in the NBA since 2005 happened in the second half of games. That finding follows this report: Fatigue or overuse contributes to Achilles tendinitis and ruptures, according to the Cleveland Clinic and other studies.
Tim Duncan averaged 40.6 minutes per game in 2001-02 for a Spurs team that averaged 92.6 possessions per game. When you do the math using the NBA’s official data, Duncan played an estimated 78.3 possessions per game. Cousins this month? He was playing approximately 80.2 possessions a night when you factor in that the Pelicans have averaged 101.5 possessions, one of the speediest in the league. Such a pace would blow the doors off any Duncan team of the early 2000s.
What gets lost in the injury discussion is an appreciation of today’s high-octane pace of play and its effect on larger, heavier athletes like Cousins.
Don't get me wrong, I'm eager to see Embiid in back-to-backs as well, hopefully the Sixers medical staff closely monitors his fitness and exhaustion when/if it becomes an issue.
Greek Freak picks up where he left off
Giannis missed two games last week due to a knee injury, but he looks fully recovered. Since the abrupt firing of Jason Kidd, the Bucks are 3-0 and their young phenom has been at the center of their success, to no one's surprise.
In his first game back from injury on Friday against Brooklyn, Antetokounmpo erupted for 41 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and two steals, shooting 14-for-20 from the floor, hitting all three three-point attemps. The Greek Freak followed that performance up on Sunday in Chicago with 27 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, shooting 57.9 percent from the floor in Milwaukee's 110-96 win.
"I see that guys are playing harder," Antetokounmpo said. "Some guys -- I don't know what they're thinking in their heads. Maybe (they were) not OK with what happened. I just see guys playing hard."
Giannis has played in 13 games against Philadelphia since being drafted 15th overall in 2013, posting averages of 14.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists, shooting 47.4 percent from the floor.
Covington's not letting the haters get to him
I think any Sixers fan that watches the team regular can admit that Robert Covington is a streaky shooter. He goes from shooting 75 percent from beyond one night to missing 10 shots from the three-point line the next night. Over the last month or so, Covington has struggled to find the offensive stroke that saw him shoot 44.2 percent from the floor in November and 39.6 percent from beyond. After a 38.4 percent shooting month of December, RoCo is still shooting under 40 percent in January and just over 36 percent from beyond the arc.
The question is what changed? Signed to a $64 million extension in November, Covington was averaging 15.3 points per game in 25 games up until he suffered a back injury against Cleveland on December 9. In 19 games since, Cov is averaging nearly five points less per game (10.7) and his shooting percentage dropped from 44.9 to 36.3. One has to wonder if Covington is still ailing a bit from his back injury or if this is just one of his usual offensive slumps. It hasn't been easier for him without JJ Redick either. The threat of Redick opens the floor for a guy like Covington who excels in hitting triples off of the pass. Still, Covington is managing to remain very valuable to the team defensively, ranking second in the league in points saved.
Most points "saved" on defense, based on DRPM— Kelly Scaletta (@KellyScaletta) January 29, 2018
1. DeMarcus Cousins: 90.9
2. Robert Covington: 89.1
3. Anthony Davis: 84.8
4. Andre Roberson: 83.4
5. Andre Drummond: 81.5
Fans have been hard on RoCo through his bad shooting, but the 27-year-old forward isn't letting that get to him.
Haha I just laugh at all the negativity in my mentions and comments. Heard the same nonsense last year. That shyt don’t phase me at all. It will all come back around. Always does!!! #UnBothered pic.twitter.com/5yKn1UqAOs— Robert Covington (@Holla_At_Rob33) January 29, 2018
|Matchup Preview | January 29, 2018|
(24-22, 12-12 Away)
(26-22, 16-9 Home)