The Sixers (15-27) on Tuesday night open their latest back-to-back set against the LA Clippers (30-16) at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m./CSN, CSNPhilly.com and streaming live on the NBC Sports app).
Let's take a closer look at the matchup:
1. Missing in action
The Sixers are used to missing Joel Embiid for at least one game of back-to-back sets. However, they will have to forge ahead without him in both contests coming up on consecutive days.
Embiid will miss the Sixers' games on Tuesday and Wednesday after suffering a left knee contusion in the team's 93-92 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday. The matchups will mark three straight absences for the Eastern Conference Player of the Week after he was sidelined for the Sixers' blowout loss in Atlanta Saturday.
The Sixers haven't exactly been able to survive without Embiid's production this season. They are 2-10 minus the Rookie of the Year frontrunner and have allowed 106.5 points in those games.
Brett Brown challenged his team to perform better — particularly on defense — during this upcoming stint without Embiid.
“It’s still about our defense, it’s still about running, it’s still about sharing the ball,” Brown said after practice Monday. “I think you go with Jahlil (Okafor) and Nerlens (Noel) and challenge them in relation to rim protection and what Joel provides us. The group around them also has got to perform at a higher level when you don’t have Joel. I think that second group that we have been playing, led by Nerlens, really can take on a far greater defensive identity than it has recently, and Nerlens will be the captain of that.”
2. The Blake Show is back
While the Sixers will be without their star big man in Tuesday's tilt, the Clippers are expected to get one of theirs back.
Blake Griffin is likely to return to action against the Sixers after missing 18 games following right knee surgery.
Griffin was averaging 21.2 points and 8.8 rebounds this season as the Clippers jumped out to a 20-6 record. Griffin underwent an arthroscopic procedure to remove loose bodies from the knee on Dec. 19, and the Clips have recorded just a 10-8 mark since.
With fellow superstar Chris Paul sidelined with an injured thumb, getting the five-time All-Star Griffin back should be a major boost for the Clippers.
3. Take care
The Clippers may not be the force they once were in the open court (15th in the NBA with 12.7 fastbreak points per game this season), but that doesn't mean they still can't revert to their Lob City ways in the blink of an eye.
That could be the case on Tuesday if the Sixers continue to turn the ball over at such an alarming rate.
The Sixers, last in the league with 17.1 turnovers per game, have somehow been even worse during this recent string of success. They have committed 19.4 turnovers a night over the last five games and 17.8 during the last 10 contests.
The Sixers have been able to survive thanks to their active defense creating opportunities on offense and some clutch shooting. However, with Embiid sidelined and facing a Clippers team that ranks in the top five in field-goal and three-point percentage, those miscues may come back to haunt the Sixers.
Okafor (knee) is questionable. Embiid (knee), Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.
Griffin (knee) is probable. Paul (thumb) and Brice Johnson (back) are out for the Clippers.
5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost nine straight games to the Clippers.
• Ersan Ilyasova is averaging 17.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game during January.
• DeAndre Jordan has averaged a double-double of 11.3 points and 12.8 rebounds against the Sixers in his career.