How will Sixers try to replace Harris on Saturday night?

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It sure looks like the 22-11 Sixers will need to keep winning to maintain their spot as the Eastern Conference’s top team at the All-Star break.

The Nets, who have won eight games straight and sit a half-game behind the Sixers, host the Mavericks on Saturday night. Meanwhile, the Sixers will be aiming to take care of business against the 12-21 Cavaliers. Cleveland has won two consecutive games following a 10-game losing streak. 

Here are the essentials for Saturday’s game:

  • When: 7 ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6 p.m.
  • Where: Wells Fargo Center 
  • Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia 
  • Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the MyTeams app 

And here are three storylines to watch: 

Replacing Harris

With Tobias Harris sidelined by a right knee contusion, the first question to answer for the Sixers is who will start in his place. The team was shorthanded for the three games Harris missed earlier this season because of health and safety protocols.

Mike Scott took Harris’ minutes during the Sixers’ win Thursday over the Mavs and seems a likely candidate to do so again. There’s no player on the Sixers’ roster with a game comparable to Harris’, but Scott is at least capable of playing the same position defensively and will not be hesitant to take three-point shots.  If Scott starts, we figure that rookie wing Isaiah Joe might find himself back in the Sixers’ rotation.

Embiid primed for a breakout game?

Before the Sixers’ mini-series against the Raptors, Joel Embiid was averaging 30.5 points this season and shooting 54.7 percent from the floor. In the three games since, he’s totaled 66 points and made 14 of 53 field goals (26.4 percent).

“He missed some great shots,” head coach Doc Rivers said Thursday night of Embiid. “I would take most of the shots he took. He’s got to get away from trying to draw fouls and just go get fouls. But, other than that, I’m not that concerned.”

On paper, Embiid should have a good chance to return to form Saturday. Cleveland will be without Andre Drummond, Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr., Taurean Prince and Matthew Dellavedova. Jarrett Allen will start and likely play heavy minutes. 

Keep an eye on the turnovers 

Embiid was a late scratch with back tightness on Dec. 27 in Cleveland. Without him, the Sixers had perhaps their worst performance of the season, turning the ball over 22 times in a 24-point loss.

One thing the Cavs have continued to do well despite falling off sharply since their hot start is force turnovers. Their opponents have given the ball away on 15.2 percent of their possessions, per Cleaning the Glass, which ranks fourth in the NBA.

An element of Ben Simmons’ top-notch all-around game Thursday was his seven assists and zero turnovers. The Sixers only had eight turnovers as a team, a low for the season. A similar showing against Cleveland would be encouraging. 

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