Sixers catching a Blazers team down its top 3 players


Damian Lillard is out and Joel Embiid is in tonight.

Winners of four in a row and seven of eight, the 16-6 Sixers welcome in an injury-ravaged Blazers team without its best player. Lillard was ruled out Thursday afternoon with an abdominal strain. It is the first game he’s missed this season.

Lillard's averaging 29.1 a game this season with 7.3 assists, and he's carried an even bigger load in CJ McCollum's absence. McCollum was having a career year and leading the NBA in threes before suffering a foot injury on January 16. He’s out at least another couple of weeks. In the seven games McCollum's missed, Lillard's averaged 31.9 points and 8.1 assists on better percentages.

Embiid was not on the injury report and appears to be good to go for another back-to-back. This would make four straight back-to-backs in which he’s played both ends. Embiid was dominant in Wednesday night’s win with 34 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals, a block, three treys and 9-of-10 from the line.

The Blazers (11-9) have been decimated. Beyond their starting guards, center Jusuf Nurkic, who played great in the bubble, fractured his wrist the game before McCollum's injury and will be out another 4-6 weeks.

Nassir Little, who scored 30 points against the Bucks two games ago, is out with a knee injury.

The Blazers will be asking for a lot from Gary Trent Jr., who’s been on a roll from three lately but will command more defensive attention tonight than usual. He’s made 27 threes and averaged 18.0 points over his last six.

Forward Derrick Jones Jr., a high-quality defender who can jump out of the gym, is also out tonight for Portland with a foot injury. 

Trent Jr., Anfernee Simons, Rodney Hood, Robert Covington, Carmelo Anthony and Enes Kanter should see plenty of minutes for the Blazers. Their only other active players tonight are Harry Giles, CJ Elleby and Keljin Blevins.

For the Sixers, Ben Simmons and Shake Milton are probable. Mike Scott and Terrance Ferguson remain out.

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