The 76ers will finish their three game road trip tonight as they take on the Minnesota Timberwolves at 9:30PM on ESPN. The Sixers are 0-2 on the road trip, and have lost 4 straight games and need to get back on track, but it will not be an easy task. The Timberwolves have been playing very good basketball to start the season, sitting at 16-11 and a surprising 4th in the Western Conference one-third of the way through the season. They haven’t played the most difficult of schedules, but the young nucleus has played up to their standards to start the season.
Karl Anthony Towns’ numbers for scoring and rebounding have dipped a little bit, but that could be because of the addition of Jimmy Butler, who is averaging 19 and has fit into the core nicely. The third of the three headed monster is Andrew Wiggins, who is also averaging 18 points per night. The rest of their starting lineup consists of the veteran PG Jeff Teague, and the energy filled forward that is Taj Gibson. Despite an extremely strong starting lineup, their bench ranks 28th in scoring, and something that the 76ers can exploit.
The big question marks for the 76ers is if they will have Robert Covington and Joel Embiid in uniform for the national TV game this evening. They are both listed as questionable. Robert Covington suffered a lower back contusion in a hard fall against the Cleveland Cavaliers this past Saturday and Joel Embiid has missed the last two games, after sitting due to”load management” on Saturday and then on Sunday being a late scratch due to back stiffness. However, they will get a lift, with TJ McConnell, who has missed 4 of the last 5 games with a shoulder injury, returning to secure the backup PG minutes.
The 76ers have put up decent fights these past two games against the Cavaliers and Pelicans respectively without Embiid having leads in the 4th quarter, but have given up brutal 4th quarter runs that knocked them out of the game. There have been some positives though to these tight losses. Trevor Booker has injected some energy into this squad since he came over from Brooklyn. JJ Redick is getting his stroke back. The 76ers shot free throws at a 93% rate in the past two games. There are signs of improvement, but they have to start winning. Right here is a chance for a quality win on the road against one of the best young cores in the NBA.