Sixers-Timberwolves 5 Things: Joel Embiid Wants Some Revenge

The Sixers (8-24) return home after their holiday road trip to host the Minnesota Timberwolves (11-23) at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night (7 p.m./CSN, and the NBC Sports app).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. New beginnings 
The Sixers may not want to bring many things from an overall dismal 2016 into the new year, but their last image before the calendar flipped may be a good place to start.

Joel Embiid hit some clutch free throws down the stretch to help the Sixers salvage their four-game road trip with a 124-122 win over the Denver Nuggets.

Now the Sixers return home for the first time in two weeks with Embiid likely to try out a new low-post partner in Nerlens Noel. After the two big men lobbied to play together, it appears head coach Brett Brown will grant their wish.

"I think over the course of the year, you're going to see different things," Brown said after practice on Monday. "To do it (with Embiid and Jahlil Okafor) maybe as much as I have done it, I don't believe that will be the case. But there will be times you're going to see them paired up just through situations or foul trouble or injury."

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2. Looking for revenge
Perhaps that duo can help the Sixers get rid of the salty taste in their mouths from the last time they matched up with the Timberwolves.

Back on Nov. 17, the Sixers suffered an embarrassing 110-86 loss to the T-Wolves in their first national TV game in years. Minnesota stars Andrew Wiggins (35 points, 10 rebounds) and Karl-Anthony Towns (25 points, 10 rebounds) put on a show at the Sixers' expense.

Getting dismantled like that for the world to see didn't sit well with the team.

"I think it's payback time," Embiid said (see story). "Since that game ended last time, I couldn't stop thinking about it."

3. Defense is optional
No matter which team comes out on top Tuesday night, it likely won't be because of any spectacular defensive performance.

The Sixers and Timberwolves have both showcased their offensive talent this season but have failed miserably to protect their own basket.

The Sixers rank 21st in the NBA in defensive efficiency (106.0 points per 100 possessions) and 19th in opponent's field goal percentage (45.5).

Minnesota has been even worse, much to the dismay of defensive-minded head coach Tom Thibodeau. The T-Wolves are 26th in the league in defensive efficiency (108.0 points per 100 possessions) and 28th in opponent's field goal percentage (47.2).

4. Injuries
Gerald Henderson (hip) is probable. Sergio Rodriguez (ankle) and Richaun Holmes (concussion) are out.

Nikola Pekovic (ankle) is out for the Timberwolves.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have won three of their last five meetings with the Timberwolves.

• The Sixers are 4-5 this season when Embiid starts at center alongside power forward Ersan Ilyasova.

• The Timberwolves are 9-11 this season in games they have held double-digit leads.

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