Minnesota Timberwolves (11-23) at Philadelphia 76ers (8-24)
6:00 pm CST
For the 29 teams in the NBA not named Sixers, the past three seasons has had no better signal of single game success than seeing the vs. PHI on the schedule. That is because during those three years the Sixers only won 47 of 246 total games. For some context, 10 teams won more than 47 games just last season.
In those 199 losses for the Sixers, the box score was consistently littered with Hinkie Dust. Which really just stands for D-League players. However, in 2016-17 the Sixers are seemingly turning a corner, or rather Euro Stepping that corner.
Joel Embiid is the reason there is once again hope in Philadelphia. After winning 10 total games last season, the Sixers are assuredly exceeding that number this season. The eight wins they have tallied this season is (sadly) only three behind the Wolves.
Coming off of numerous injuries, Embiid has been taking nights off to rest. In the games he does play there is a minutes limit for the Sixers big man. This season, Embiid is averaging only 24.8 minutes per game. Comparatively, Karl-Anthony Towns is averaging 35.3 minutes per game.
Joel Embiid vs. Karl-Anthony Towns per 36 Minutes
When both players numbers are extrapolated out for the same number of minutes, Embiid stands out. Especially in the sexier columns of the box score. Embiid scores, blocks, and steals more than Towns. Embiid gets to the free throw line twice as much as Towns, shoots more threes, and makes a higher percentage of his threes.
Points per 36 Mins — Embiid: 27.4 / Towns: 22.0
Blocks per 36 Mins — Embiid: 3.5 / Towns: 1.4
Steals per 36 Mins — Embiid: 1.1 / Towns: .6
3-Point Attempts per 36 Mins — Embiid: 4.4 / Towns: 3.9
3-Point Field Goal Percentage — Embiid: 38.8% / Towns: 31.8%
Free-Throw Attempts per 36 Mins — Embiid: 9.9 / Towns: 5.0
Free-Throw Percentage — Embiid: 77.3% / Towns: 80.1%
Player Efficiency Rating — Embiid: 23.0 / Towns: 22.3
Embiid is also used on far more possessions by the Sixers than Towns is by the Wolves— Embiid Usage Percentage: 35.9 percent / Towns Usage Percentage: 27.4 percent. Embiid is not without flaw. He fouls more, turns the ball over more, assists less, and rebounds less than Towns. Overall the Wolves see more success with Towns on the floor than the Sixers see with Embiid.
Offensive Rating — Towns: 112 / Embiid: 100
Defensive Rating — Towns: 109 / Embiid: 102
Net Rating — Towns: +3 / Embiid: -2
Turnovers per 36 Mins — Towns: 2.7 / Embiid: 5.5
Fouls per 36 Mins — Towns: 3.0 / Embiid: 5.1
Assists per 36 Mins — Towns: 2.9 / Embiid: 2.7
Rebounds per 36 Mins — Towns: 11.7 / Embiid: 10.6
Effective Field Goal Percentage — Towns: 51.4% / Embiid: 50.8%
Karl-Anthony Towns is the more fluid basketball player, especially on the offensive end. While Embiid does often submit a near-flawless attack on the offensive end, he often relies on simply being physically superior to his opponent. Towns has a more fine-tuned skill set. Even on that impressive Euro Step by Embiid he finishes somewhat awkwardly with his right hand.
This awkward footwork has become somewhat of a crutch this season for Embiid as he almost always favors using his right hand.
The footwork here is even more peculiar. (Yes, these are two different plays.)
Both Towns and Embiid will only continue to improve, but as of tonight’s matchup they both are struggling on certain aspects of the defensive end. Specifically, defending an NBA caliber pick and roll. Here, Embiid gets into a defensive stance far too late. At that point, he is essentially guarding no one and can only awkwardly flail at a successful alley-oop.
Towns also has struggled greatly in pick and roll defense. He can switch a pick and roll at an elite level, but he too often looks confused as to what his exact role is.
All that said, these two players are the future of the big man position and consistently make plays that very few people seven-feet tall ever make. The average big man can not guard them. Embiid vs. Towns will be a battle for the next decade and tonight in Philadelphia will be one of many chapters.
In this matchup, the Sixers are without their best three point guards. (Yes, I consider Ben Simmons a point guard) Jerryd Bayless and Ben Simmons are both out indefinitely. Sergio Rodriguez had become the de facto starting point guard for the Sixers, but he too is doubtful with an ankle injury. That leaves T.J. McConnell. The Sixers first round rookie Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot will also see some ball handling duties.
Gerald Henderson and Jahlil Okafor sat out the Sixers last game but are both expected back tonight.
Injuries: Ben Simmons (foot surgery, out indefinitely), (Jerryd Bayless (wrist surgery, out for season), Sergio Rodriguez (ankle, doubtful), Richaun Holmes (concussion, doubtful).
PREDICTION TIME: Wolves crush the Sixers, again. 100-80.
Your Towns vs. Embiid opinions are welcome here.