Rested 76ers face weary Trail Blazers

December 30, 2018

PORTLAND -- The Philadelphia 76ers will be well-rested when they visit Moda Center Sunday night to face the Portland Trail Blazers, but they may be without their most valuable player.

Center Joel Embiid missed practice Saturday because of soreness in his left knee and is listed as questionable.

"I think it's just precautionary," coach Brett Brown said about Embiid missing Saturday's practice session.

Philadelphia (23-13) hasn't played since Thursday night, when the 76ers pounded Utah 114-97 at Vivint Smart Home Arena on the second stop of a five-game road trip. The Jazz won home-and-home dates with Portland by scores of 120-90 and 117-96 last week.

The 7-foot Embiid had collected 23 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots in 33 minutes against the Jazz. He is tied for seventh in the NBA in scoring (26.5), third in rebounds (13.3) and ninth in blocks (1.9).

Philadelphia's Ben Simmons enjoyed his fifth triple-double of the season with 13 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists against the Jazz.

"Ben spoke with his play," Brown said. "He was dominant."

Veteran guard JJ Redick was the other major contributor at Utah with 24 points, sinking 6 of 9 from 3-point range.

"He made some timely shots," Brown said. "When we needed a bucket, he made some big shots - some off-balance shots, some contested shots."

The Blazers (20-16) will be playing the second of back-to-back home games after falling 115-105 to the Golden State Warriors Saturday night. The Blazers know it will be difficult to avoid another loss on their homecourt.

"(The 76ers) have a great team," said Portland point guard Damian Lillard, who scored 40 points in the loss to the Warriors. "They have three great players in Embiid, (Jimmy) Butler and Simmons. They have shooters around them. Redick is a vet. He's going to do what he does. They have some developing young players and Wilson Chandler coming off the bench. They have a really talented team. they complement each other well. It's going to be another challenge."

The Blazers had beaten Golden State 110-109 in overtime Thursday night at Oracle Arena, Lillard hitting the game-winning 3-pointer with 5.1 seconds left in the extra session. The Warriors won Saturday's rematch at the 3-point line, making 12 of 25 attempts to only 9 of 31 for the Blazers.

"In the first game, we dodged a few bullets," Lillard said. "(The Warriors) didn't shoot the ball well when we had (defensive slip-ups). They just missed shots sometimes.

"(On Saturday), we had a solid game defensively. We competed. We were sharp in our game plan. But they're a great team. They've won three championships. They're going to make shots. Too often we allowed them to get a little bit too much space, and they made them tonight."

Portland will need a better contribution from its bench that it got against Golden State. The Blazer reserves totaled 14 points on a combined 5-for-21 shooting against the Warriors.

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