The Philadelphia 76ers, minus reigning MVP Joel Embiid, host De'Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, and the Sacramento Kings on Friday, January 12.
These teams are two of the best in either conference: Philadelphia is 23-13 and third in the East, while the Kings are 23-14 and fifth in the West.
|Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
|7:30 PM ET, Friday, January 12
|How to watch
Sacramento Kings: Kevin Huerter (ankle, questionable for Friday's game vs 76ers)
Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid (knee, out), Robert Covington (knee, out), Kenneth Lofton Jr. (shoulder, out)
The Sacramento Kings three-time All-Star center Domantas Sabonis has played great basketball lately, recently dropping a 37-point triple-double. Sixers center Joel Embiid, out with a knee injury, will not be the one trying to stop Sabonis.
Aside from the reigning MVP, Philly does not have a ton of size. Mo Bamba is the team's only other seven-footer, and he has rotated in and out of coach Nick Nurse's rotation this season.
Embiid is the league's leading scorer and is ninth in the league in blocks per game. Philly is 2-7 this season in games where Embiid has not played, and he is the team's only player averaging more than 1.0 blocked shots per game.
The absence of Embiid should open things up for Sabonis in the post, and it could also benefit drive-happy guards De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk who won't have one of the league's most formidable defenders in front of them when they move toward the hoop.
The MVP's absence would be the biggest story for almost any game in which his team plays, but this Kings-Sixers game gets more intriguing without Embiid because without him, the teams are evenly matched.
Tyrese Maxey is a similar player to Fox in terms of their speed and ability to create space, although Maxey is a better shooter while Fox is better at playmaking and getting to the hoop.
Maxey is averaging 26.2 points per game and 6.7 assists per game, but he can improve in the efficiency department, especially in the absence of the league's player efficiency rating leader, Embiid.
He has averaged 28.3 points over his last six games which include displays of 42 and 35 points, but he's shooting 28 percent from three and 42.9 percent from the field in that span.
Tobias Harris is a similar case. Harris averages 17.4 points and 6.2 rebounds, but in his last four games, he has scored point totals of 15, 20, five, and most recently, 32.
That five-point display was against the New York Knicks in a game the Sixers lost by 36 points. Harris took just six shots in that game, and it was his fifth game this season where he scored less than 10 points.
It can be hard to know what to expect from Harris on any given night, and veteran Kings forward Harrison Barnes could be a tough defensive assignment for the Sixers' third-leading scorer.
The Sixers and Kings have played 300 games against each other dating back to 1963, when the Sixers were called the Syracuse Nationals and the Kings were called the Cincinnati Royals. Philly leads the all-time series 172-128. The January 12 game is the first meeting between the two teams this season, and they meet again in Sacramento on March 25.
Odds mentioned in this article were correct at the time of writing and are subject to change.