Sixers-Hornets 5 Things: Relying on Jahlil Okafor Vs. Charlotte's Big Men

The Sixers (0-3) close out their first back-to-back set of the season with their road opener against the Charlotte Hornets (2-1) on Wednesday night (7 p.m./CSN).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

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1. Closing up shop
One thing about consistently having a young team is consistently having to learn tough lessons. That's been the case each season for the Sixers under Brett Brown in regards to closing out games, and Tuesday was no different.

The Sixers managed only 14 points in the fourth quarter of a 103-101 loss to the Orlando Magic. That included zero field goals in the last 3:56 and two Joel Embiid turnovers in the final 36.6 seconds as they blew a once-18-point lead.

“It’s really tough,” Embiid said of the loss. "Next time we’ve got to come out of halftime, we’ve got to be ready. ... Next time when we have a lead like that we’ve just got to be ready to play and compete.”

That's now two double-digit leads blown in the Sixers' three losses this season. Certainly not a trend they'd like to see continue.

2. Jahlil's turn
Brown opted to split up his centers for the back-to-back. That means Embiid will get the night off in Charlotte and Jahlil Okafor will take his place after sitting out against the Magic.

Okafor is still working his way back from a torn meniscus suffered last season. He's looked fluid in his movements on the court, averaging 8.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in 15.5 minutes a night. However, the big man's shot has been rusty (35.3 percent).

Even on a minutes restriction, Okafor will need to give the Sixers quality minutes down low against a big Hornets frontline that features healthy seven-footers Frank Kaminsky and Cody Zeller.

3. Keep an eye on Kemba
The battle of the bigs will definitely be an important factor to Wednesday's meeting, but let's be honest: The game will likely come down to how well the Sixers can contain Kemba Walker.

The point guard has gotten off to a strong start in his sixth season. He has averaged 23.3 points and 5.0 assists to open the 2016-17 campaign. Walker has also been wreaking havoc in the passing lanes on defense with 2.3 steals per contest.

Those numbers are just about on par with what Walker put up against the Sixers last season as the Hornets swept the four-game series.

The Sixers better hope Sergio Rodriguez and T.J. McConnell got a good night's rest.

4. Injuries
Embiid (rest) did not make the trip with the Sixers. Ben Simmons (foot), Nerlens Noel (knee) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are also out.

Former Sixer Christian Wood (illness) is a game-time decision. Roy Hibbert (knee) and Jeremy Lamb (hamstring) are out for the Hornets.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost five straight games to the Hornets.

• The Sixers are shooting just 25.6 percent from three-point range to start the seas.

• The Hornets are first in the NBA in blocks per game with 8.3, while the Sixers are second with 7.7.

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