Can Sixers bounce back against young, rebuilding OKC team?


The Sixers’ first game of the season against the Thunder was supposed to be on Jan. 17. 

A few months later, the teams will finally meet. That initial matchup was postponed because of COVID-19 contact tracing.

Here are the essentials for Saturday night’s game between the 35-17 Sixers and 20-32 Thunder: 

  • When: 9 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 8 p.m. 
  • Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena
  • Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia  
  • Live stream: and the MyTeams app 

And here are three storylines to watch: 

Harris and Green out

Tobias Harris (right knee soreness) and Danny Green (left hip soreness) won't play Saturday, while George Hill (right thumb surgery) is still out. This will be the first game the 33-year-old Green has missed this season. 

Furkan Korkmaz and Matisse Thybulle will replace Harris and Green in the Sixers' starting lineup.

Joel Embiid will play on the second night of this back-to-back. Embiid scored just four of his 14 points after the first quarter, shooting 5 for 16 from the floor overall. It was the only game all season in which he’s had more field goal attempts than points. 

OKC’s Process

Oklahoma City has lost five straight games and eight of nine without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (right foot plantar fasciitis).

The Thunder’s focus this season has been on the future — accumulating draft picks and developing young talent. Former Sixer Tony Bradley and former Delaware Blue Coat Justin Robinson have recently joined Oklahoma City’s rotation. Other Thunder players worth watching include Théo Maledon, the French point guard who was technically a Sixer until the Danny Green trade became official on Dec. 8, and Aleksej Pokuševski, an audacious, 7-foot 19-year-old who scored a rookie-high 25 points Wednesday. 

Al Horford won’t play again this season, the Thunder announced late last month. Moses Brown has been the team’s starting center. 

‘You don’t have much of a choice’ 

The Sixers did not play well Friday. Rivers called it a “mentally weak” showing, and Green and Harris were on the same page.

There’s no time to analyze exactly what went wrong in any great detail. If the Sixers respect what the Thunder’s youngsters bring to the table and play smart, high-effort basketball, it seems unlikely that they’ll lose this game. Seth Curry returning to form after an 0-for-7 night would also be helpful. 

“It’s never easy, but you don’t have much of a choice,” Green said. “You’ve got to bounce back. If you don’t and let it linger, you’ll find yourself in a funk and lose multiple games in a row. Right now the road trip — even though we got a chance to go home — we’re 1-1. The goal is to win the next two so we can be 3-1 on the road trip. But we’ve got to stay healthy, stay locked in, learn from this, get better. We’ve got to get some wins before we get back home.”

Contact Us