Joel Embiid expected to play power forward with Jahlil Okafor at center vs. Raptors

Joel Embiid expected to play power forward with Jahlil Okafor at center vs. Raptors

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers will be short a big without Nerlens Noel on Wednesday night, but they'll still have two against the Raptors.

Joel Embiid expects to play alongside Jahlil Okafor on Wednesday. When he does, Embiid will be the power forward.

Embiid will remain at center when playing with power forwards Ersan Ilyasova or Dario Saric, who also will be seeing time at small forward. 

“Tonight I’m guarding the four, so I think it depends on the matchups,” Embiid said after shootaround. “Some days I’m going to be guarding the five, but tonight I’m guarding the four.”

Brett Brown has emphasized his decision to play two bigs will be based on the opponents. He has paired Embiid and Okafor twice against the Magic, who feature Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic (see story)

Embiid sees the Raptors, who are projected to start Pascal Siakam at power forward and Jonas Valanciunas at center, as a good opportunity to move around the floor. The Sixers will need help defense honing in on the dangerous backcourt of DeMar DeRozan (27.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists per game) and Kyle Lowry (21.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 7.3 assists per game). 

“I think no disrespect to Siakam, but he’s not as good as a shooter,” Embiid said. “That sets me kind of free to like just play all over the place, helping my teammates, helping off DeRozan, Valanciunas, so it just kind of gives me free reign to just play.”

The Raptors beat the Sixers, 122-95, in their first meeting of the season on Nov. 28. Embiid did not play, as it was the second game of a back-to-back. 

T.J. McConnell (wrist) in a splint, doubtful to play for Sixers Wednesday

T.J. McConnell (wrist) in a splint, doubtful to play for Sixers Wednesday

Sixers point guard T.J. McConnell is doubtful for Wednesday's home game against the Raptors with a right wrist sprain.

McConnell was in a splint at practice Tuesday and said he would try to play but would leave it up to the medical staff.

McConnell is averaging 4.8 points and 5.4 assists in 38 games. The Sixers went 5-2 in the last seven games he started before his injury, and won 113-104 in Milwaukee without him. Sergio Rodriguez started at PG in McConnell's place and had 10 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Chasson Randle backed up the point and had 10 points and a pair of threes.

Big men update
Joel Embiid did not practice Tuesday and is listed as probable for Wednesday night when the Sixers (13-26) host the Raptors (27-13).

“Joel Embiid ... was a little bit, had the flu,” Brett Brown said.

Brown also added that he does not think Embiid's minutes limit will increase beyond 28 this season.

Jahlil Okafor (probable) did not participate in practice and received treatment. Brown said Okafor had soreness. Gerald Henderson is also probable and had an individualized workout Tuesday.

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors certainly looked ready to trade some more blows with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come June.

The two-time reigning MVP hit five 3-pointers and had 20 points while matching his season best with 11 assists in Golden State's 126-91 rout of the defending champs Monday.

Klay Thompson scored 26 points with five 3s, and Curry made four steals. Draymond Green produced his third triple-double of the season with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists while matching his career best with five blocks -- and had another dustup with King James in the process.

James had 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting and eight rebounds, and he and Green became the talk once more as their relationship turned even more testy.

Kevin Durant added 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Warriors in a much-hyped matchup merely weeks after Golden State lost 109-108 in Cleveland on Christmas (see full recap).

Thomas explodes for 17 in fourth quarter to lift Celtics over Hornets
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas scored 17 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, and the surging Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets 108-98 on Monday night for their ninth victory in 11games.

It was Thomas' 25th straight game with 20 or more points. He's been putting up big final quarters of late -- scoring 20 or more three times this season. No other NBA player had done it more than once entering Monday.

Al Horford had 22 points, while Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder added 15 apiece for Boston, which has won all three meetings with Charlotte this season.

Kemba Walker scored 24 points and Marvin Williams 21 for the Hornets, who lost their fifth straight -- all on the road.

Thomas scored 13 straight points, pushing Boston ahead 93-83 with his 3-pointer from the left wing with 7 minutes left.

Boston led 80-71 entering the final period (see full recap).

Wizards remain hot with win over Trail Blazers
WASHINGTON  -- Bradley Beal scored 25 points and John Wall had 24 as the Washington Wizards took a page from the Portland Trail Blazers' playbook by hitting 13 3-pointers in a comfortable 120-101 victory on Monday afternoon.

The Wizards, who rely less on the 3-pointer than almost any NBA team, were 13 of 23 from beyond the arc in their 12th consecutive home victory. The 3-pointer-heavy Trail Blazers shot 8 of 26 on 3-point attempts.

After Washington coach Scott Brooks called Portland guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum as good as any backcourt in the league, Beal and John Wall outplayed them. Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points and McCollum had 12, but they combined to shoot 11 of 29 from the floor.

The Wizards have won four of their last five games (see full recap).