Sixers' perimeter defense will face plenty of challenges on West Coast trip

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The 17-7 Sixers will begin their longest road trip of the season thus far Tuesday night when they play the 12-11 Kings.

Here are the essentials for tonight’s game:

  • When: 10 p.m. EST with Sixers Pregame Live at 9:30 p.m. 
  • Where: Golden 1 Center 
  • Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia 
  • Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the MyTeams app 

And here are three storylines to watch: 

Fox vs. Simmons?

Ben Simmons was all over James Harden in the second half of the Sixers’ win Saturday over the Nets, but it was Danny Green who got the initial assignment on the eight-time All-Star.

How will the Sixers match up against Sacramento? Ultra-speedy point guard De’Aaron Fox is the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week, and he’s improved to 36.1 percent from three-point range this season on a career-high 5.2 attempts per game. Buddy Hield is also putting up more threes than he ever has. With a 3-for-18 mark from long distance over his last two games, he might be due for a hot night. 

Tyrese Haliburton is a (very) early frontrunner for the steal of the draft. The No. 12 pick has averaged 11.9 points, 5.4 assists and 3.7 rebounds, and his unconventional shooting form has still worked quite well at the professional level. Perhaps the Sixers will give the rookie a difficult defensive test in Matisse Thybulle. 

Meeting an old friend  

Richaun Holmes is among the Process Era Sixers who’d seemingly fit nicely on the current team. The 27-year-old has posted 13.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.8 blocks per game in his second season with the Kings. He’s made 61 percent of his short mid-range attempts and scored 139.2 per 100 shot attempts, per Cleaning the Glass, both career highs. 

Holmes might be especially motivated against Joel Embiid because of their recent history. The last two times they’ve played, Embiid has outscored Holmes by a total of 75-16. 

Defensive challenges to come

With the second-place Bucks on a five-game winning streak, it appears the Sixers will need a decent West Coast trip to maintain their lead at the top of the Eastern Conference. 

None of these games are easy on paper, and the Sixers’ perimeter defense will be challenged by the likes of Fox, Hield, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Damian Lillard and Donovan Mitchell. 

The Sixers will enter Tuesday’s game with a 109.5 defensive rating excluding garbage time, according to Cleaning the Glass, sixth in the NBA. 

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