The Houston Rockets (39-25) are hosting the Philadelphia 76ers (41-24) tonight at the Toyota Center. Joel Embiid will miss his eighth consecutive game with knee soreness and Amir Johnson is expected to start in his place. Boban Marjanovic remains out with a bone bruise/mild sprain in his right knee. Ben Simmons (gastroenteritis) did not attend shootaround this morning and is listed as questionable.
• When: 8 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 7 p.m.
• Where: Toyota Center
• Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
• Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app
Here are three storylines to watch.
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Defend the three
The Rockets take and make the most threes in the league and it's not even close, averaging over 15 made threes per game on almost 45 attempts. With two of the top-10 three-point shooters in James Harden and Eric Gordon, defending the three will be huge for the Sixers tonight. Lucky for them, Philadelphia has been largely successful in that area, with opponents averaging just 10.0 made threes per game, second-best in the NBA.
The last time around…
The Sixers handled the Rockets in their last matchup at Wells Fargo Center, but Houston was also without Chris Paul and Clint Capela, while the Sixers were without Jimmy Butler. The Sixers did have Embiid though, who got to the free throw line 17 times and Landry Shamet (who has since been traded in a deal for Tobias Harris), who shot 7-13 from the field and went off for 18 points in that game. The point I'm making is that tonight is a much different matchup than on Jan. 21, when the Sixers beat the Rockets by 28.
James Ennis III
Speaking of differences, Ennis III was also in a Rockets uniform in their last matchup. Since acquiring him last month, Brett Brown said there is still a tournament of sorts for that backup wing slot. Ennis had a strong showing in Chicago the other night, finishing with 11 points and seven rebounds off the bench. I'll be curious to see how Brown uses him tonight. For those interested, I also wrote a little something about Ennis and the struggles he's gone through to make it to where he is today (see story).
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