Embiid scratched late for Sixers' mini-series finale

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The Sixers’ longest losing streak this season is three games. 

They’ll be seeking to avoid a first four-game skid Saturday afternoon when they conclude a two-game series in Milwaukee. 

Here are the essentials: 

  • When: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Fiserv Forum
  • Broadcast: ESPN

And here are three storylines to watch: 

Simmons and Embiid out

Ben Simmons will miss his fourth consecutive game with a non-COVID illness. Head coach Doc Rivers on Thursday put the chances of Simmons’ returning in Milwaukee at “50-50 at best," but the Sixers ensured there wasn’t any suspense by ruling the three-time All-Star out Friday night.

“Clearly it’s more serious,” Rivers said. “Not serious to where he’s going to miss a lot of games, but it’s more serious than we hoped for because he’s still missing games, and we just need him to get well.”

Joel Embiid (right shoulder soreness) is also out. There was pregame confusion over his status as he was listed among the Sixers' starters approximately 30 minutes before tip-off, but the team scratched him late.

Furkan Korkmaz (right ankle sprain) was another scratch minutes before tip-off.

Paul Reed (health and safety protocols) is also out. 

Reason to be wary of Bucks’ stretch fives 

The Bucks went 20 for 40 from three-point range in Game 1, the highest three-point percentage and second-most threes made by a Sixers opponent this season.

Milwaukee’s centers did much of that damage, with Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis combining to shoot 9 for 12 from three-point range. 

It sounded Thursday night as if Rivers planned to change things up defensively, which is not a surprise after such a subpar defensive showing. Dwight Howard’s strength is obviously not guarding stretch fives. 

“It doesn’t happen a lot, that’s the good news,” Rivers said. “Having said that, our matchups could’ve been different. We could’ve had Dwight on (P.J.) Tucker. We could’ve had Mike (Scott) on Portis. So, you live and you learn.”

One eye on the standings 

Heading into a difficult seven-game stretch for the Sixers that concludes Saturday, the team had the same record as the Nets. If the Sixers win, that will still be the case.

Brooklyn won its 40th game and moved a half-game in front of the Sixers with a victory Friday over the Celtics. 

The Sixers are seeking to balance pushing for the top seed with optimizing team health come the postseason, although Rivers on Thursday emphasized that the players who’ve missed games recently have had legitimate issues. 

“… These are real injuries we’ve had; these are not rest things,” he said. “So you’ve just got to sit there and take it, but you’ve still got to try to win games, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

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