A five-day break came at just the right time for the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Sixers haven’t played since last Friday when they dropped their second straight, 125-119 to the Boston Celtics. All-Star center Joel Embiid missed the past two games with an illness. Tyrese Maxey was also out against the Celtics.
Philadelphia is expected to have Embiid and Maxey back when it visits the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.
“I think that they’re pretty much fine,” Sixers coach Nick Nurse said of Embiid and Maxey. “I think with Joel obviously out a lot longer, he’s looking to get some rhythm back. But he’s certainly physically looking good now. He’s working pretty hard.”
The 76ers will also welcome back Kelly Oubre Jr., who has been out since Nov. 11 with a broken rib and other undisclosed injuries after reportedly being struck by a vehicle.
Oubre averaged 16.3 points in his first eight games before his injury. Local police have been unable to locate any video evidence, leading some to be skeptical of Oubre’s account.
“This is very hard for us to have to deal with and for me to miss being on the court, which keeps me sane, and a lot of people were very inconsiderate and insensitive to try to worry about video cameras,” Oubre said.
“So yeah, I mean, I’m just really blessed that it wasn’t worse than what it is and I’m able to come back to work and smile and walk and talk and breathe. So yeah, that’s just what I have to say about the conspiracy theorists.”
The struggling Wizards will set out to snap a two-game losing streak, both to the Orlando Magic.
The second defeat to the Magic came last Friday, a 130-125 setback. Overall, Washington has dropped 11 of 12.
The calendar just flipped to December and the season appears to be slipping away from the Wizards.
“In general, I thought the effort, the overall intent was better tonight,” Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said after the team fell to 3-16. “The defensive disposition was much better. So you come up short, but I thought that was somewhat of a bounce-back for us.”
The Wizards struggled mightily against Orlando’s Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner.
It certainly won’t get any easier with the returns of Embiid and Maxey, especially in pick-and-roll situations.
“Banchero and Wagner got positional size, both able to play pick and roll, score on three levels, you know, stretch you a little bit from three, play off the bounce, can post you,” Unseld said. “It’s quite the duo and you know because of that size, it’s a tough matchup.”
Kyle Kuzma has been a bright spot this season for the Wizards and he proved his mettle again with a 27-point effort against the Magic last Friday. Daniel Gafford added 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Corey Kispert scored 15 points and Jordan Poole had 14.
But the Wizards were hurt once again with costly turnovers. They had 14 total turnovers, six by Kuzma.