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Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

Mar 23, 2024 1:39 pm

Sagging Sixers face Clippers in search of ‘guts’

Paul George Kawhi

The Philadelphia 76ers are finding it increasingly difficult to put points on the scoreboard with star Joel Embiid on the injury report.

Philadelphia (38-32) looks to address its ongoing shooting slump when it visits the Los Angeles Clippers (44-25) on Sunday.

Los Angeles completed a two-game sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday and holds the fourth seed in the Western Conference playoff race. The Sixers are in eighth place in the East after losing seven of their last 10.

Embiid has missed the past 24 games while recovering from surgery to repair a meniscus injury in his left knee. Philadelphia has gone 9-15 during that stretch, including a 101-94 road loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.

“He’s not walking through those doors right now,” Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey said of Embiid. “This is who we’ve got. It can be done. We’ve done it. We’ve won games. We’ve won tough games. We’ve beat good teams. So it’s very doable, and we’ve just got to execute down the stretch.”

Maxey scored 27 points against the Lakers, who limited Philadelphia to 34.4 percent shooting from the field, including 8 of 37 (21.6 percent) from 3-point range.

“As long as we play our guts out, I can live with it,” Sixers coach Nick Nurse said. “I’m having a hard time right now living with it, because I felt like we really did play so hard and executed so well on defense tonight. And I thought we executed on offense, too. We just couldn’t get it in the basket.”

Philadelphia has won its last three meetings against the Clippers, who led by as many as 26 in a 125-117 victory in Portland on Friday.

Paul George scored 31 points and Kawhi Leonard added 22 as Los Angeles remained ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans, who sit 1.5 games behind them in the standings with 13 to play.

“We’re not looking at them,” George said about New Orleans. “I mean, it’s more so about us. We got to play well and not worry about, ‘We’re in the driver’s seat,’ to say.”

Point guard Russell Westbrook could return to action as soon as Monday after missing the past 11 games with a fractured left hand.

Westbrook’s return will provide a welcome spark for Los Angeles, which is nearing full strength for the first time this season. Terance Mann scored 20 points on Friday after missing one game due to a right shoulder strain.

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said he is more focused on his team’s health than playoff positioning.

“I just want us to lock in and be healthy,” Lue said. “The West is tough anyway, no matter who we play or where you play. Whether you start at home, start on the road, it’s going to be tough. So it doesn’t really bother me or phase me in any way. We’ve just got to be healthy.”

Norman Powell is listed as questionable to face Philadelphia after missing the past three games with a lower leg bruise. Powell, a key to Los Angeles’ second unit, is averaging 13.9 points while shooting 48.9 percent from the field and 43.5 percent from beyond the arc.

–Field Level Media

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