Thursday night could be a potential second-round playoff preview. It could also be another game of rest for a couple of the Sixers' stars.
Coming off two disappointing performances, the Sixers (49-29) return home to face off against the team with the best record in the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks (58-20). While Jimmy Butler (back tightness) has been ruled out, Joel Embiid (left knee soreness) is a game-time decision and JJ Redick (left quad contusion) will play.
Here are the essentials for tonight's game:
When: 8 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 7 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app
And here are three storylines to watch:
Looking for No. 50 and the three-seed
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The Sixers are still stuck on 49 wins and have yet to secure the Eastern Conference's third seed. With one more victory, they'll clinch their first back-to-back 50-win seasons since 1984-85 and 1985-86. Their magic number to clinch the three-seed is two, meaning any combination of Sixers' wins and Celtics' losses equaling two gets them there.
Even if the Sixers fall to the Bucks on Thursday, they still face off against the Bulls twice. For those of you that don't know, Chicago is all-in on the tank for the rest of the season, basically sending out a G-League squad.
The Sixers on Thursday signed veteran center Greg Monroe. The nine-year veteran will be available for tonight's game. Whether he sees any action will be something to watch. It's no secret that the Sixers' backup center situation is murky. Boban Marjanovic gives the Sixers efficient play on the offensive end, but is liability defensively. Jonah Bolden has all the traits you want for a modern NBA five, but shows the inconsistency of a rookie.
Monroe isn't exactly a dynamo on the defensive end either so it's hard to ascertain what he can do that Marjanovic can't. It certainly didn't hurt to take a flyer on Monroe and they waived player in Justin Patton that didn't figure to help them in the playoffs. It'll be interesting to see how Brett Brown views Monroe and his possible role.
The Process vs. The Greek Freak?
As a basketball fan, you have to hope we get to see this matchup again. On March 17, the All-Stars combined to score 92 of the game's points. Brown threw out an interesting wrinkle, having Embiid guard MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo. It worked in the first half, but Antetokounmpo got his when Embiid wasn't on the floor and then started going right into Embiid's chest in the second half.
Is Embiid's fitness level good enough to chase Antetokounmpo around for 30-plus minutes? Probably not. But kudos to Brown for throwing something different at the Bucks. Now after seeing how head coach Mike Budenholzer and Milwaukee adjusted in that game, let's see Brown's response.
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