No shortage of motivation for marquee Sixers-Jazz matchup


The 23-12 Sixers will take on the 27-8 Jazz Wednesday night in their final game before the All-Star break, and also their last game before fans are permitted to return to Wells Fargo Center.

Here are the essentials:

  • When: 7 ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:15 p.m.
  • Where: Wells Fargo Center 
  • Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia 
  • Live stream: and the MyTeams app 

And here are three storylines to watch: 

Harris returning 

Tobias Harris, who missed the Sixers’ last two games with a right knee contusion, is available to play Wednesday night. 

Sixers two-way players Paul Reed and Rayjon Tucker remain in the G League bubble with the Delaware Blue Coats. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Tuesday that the NBA and NBPA are planning to eliminate this season’s 50-game limit for two-way players and allow them to be eligible for the playoffs. Isaiah Joe was assigned Sunday to the G League. 

“He won’t be down long,” Rivers said of Joe. “We’re going to need him. We just felt like, with the All-Star break coming, there’s an opportunity to play a lot of games. He can play at least two and then playoffs, maybe, for a couple. We’ll see how it all shakes out.”

Utah point guard Mike Conley will be available Wednesday after being sidelined for this year's Sixers-Jazz matchup. 

No shortage of motivation 

If the Sixers win, Utah will enter the All-Star break on its second losing streak of the season. The Jazz allowed Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball to all score over 20 points Monday in a loss to the Pelicans. Given the high standards Utah has set, we expect to see a sharper defensive effort.

The Sixers have a chance to split their season series with the leading team in the Western Conference and secure first place in the East at the break. And, as was the case Feb. 15, potential Defensive Player of the Year contenders Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid can bolster their cases against two-time DPOY Rudy Gobert. 

Looking behind the arc 

Not for the first time this season, the Sixers will be facing an opponent that takes far fewer mid-range shots and far more three-pointers than them. 

Per Cleaning the Glass, the Jazz are 27th in mid-range frequency and first in three-point frequency. The Sixers are third and 27th in those respective categories. Of course, Utah converts its long-range attempts at a high rate (40.3 percent in non-garbage time minutes), while the Sixers are a middle-of-the-pack team in three-point percentage.

Joel Embiid has made it clear he wants his teammates putting up more threes.

“… It goes back to what I said last game: We’ve got to take threes,” he said Monday. “And tonight we took threes and we made them. When we do that, now it becomes harder for the other team to double. If we make two threes in a row, I always like to watch the other team’s bench.

"They’re just asking themselves, ‘What are we doing? That’s two or three threes in a row.’ They might change it, and if you’re going to guard me 1-on-1, that’s also hard to guard. That’s the key. I think we need to continue sharing the ball and just letting it fly.”

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