Sixers Injury Update: Zhaire Smith (knee) will not join Sixers at Disney World

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This NBA season has been very unpredictable.

In the longer term, it is difficult to predict with a lot of confidence, given the health and safety concerns that coincide with trying to resume a season during a pandemic.

Yet at least we know who the Sixers should play in their eight league games. As a reminder, the team is currently sixth in the Eastern Conference but could reach fourth place.

Here’s how we imagine the last eight shaky games:

August 1, 7 p.m. – Pacers
In their two losses this year to Indiana – both without Joel Embiid – the Sixers were 12 out of 62 in a three-point range, including 6 for 29 to three (20.7%), according to NBA.com/Stats .

They shouldn’t be as dependent on outside filming with Embiid in programming. Embiid dominated Myles Turner head-to-head, and we will say that he is fresh, aggressive and efficient in the first game of the Sixers.

To win

August 3, 8 p.m. – Spurs
The Sixers should have little trouble scoring against the Spurs defense, which is ranked 24th in the NBA. Tobias Harris, who scored 26 points in the Sixers’ win over San Antonio on November 22, looks particularly prepared for a great attacking game here. The Spurs simply don’t have wing defenders who should be able to disturb him.

To win

August 5, 4 p.m. – Assistants

Davis Bertans’ decision not to play in Orlando made the game easier for the Sixers, at least on paper. Without their best shooter, the Wizards will likely be very dependent on Bradley Beal, who scored 36 points on December 21 in Philadelphia but may have had to put 50 to give Washington a chance. The Sixers scored 125 points that night against the Wizards’ worst defense.

To win

August 7, 6:30 p.m. – Magic
This is technically the closest thing to the Sixers in a road game. It would make a lot of sense if they lost it and fell to 0-3 this season against the Magic. They have fought offensively against Orlando and have also been slightly overtaken in both games so far.

Loss

August 9, 6:30 p.m. – Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and the Blazers are expected to test the Sixers’ pick-and-roll defense. Portland is among the best in the league in pick-and-roll efficiency, and the Blazers’ guards will hurt the Sixers if their fall coverage is too conservative.

Loss

August 11, 4:30 p.m. – Suns
On November 4, Al Horford had perhaps his most impressive game of the season. He scored 32 points and had five rebounds, four assists and two interceptions in the Sixers’ loss to Phoenix, their first loss of the season after a 5-0 start.

Embiid (fight with Karl-Anthony Towns) and Deandre Ayton (positive test for diuretics) were both suspended for this match. Although Ayton is talented, Embiid is clearly the center and should give the Sixers the edge here. The match also remains favorable for Horford.

To win

August 12, 6:30 p.m. – Raptors
Toronto has a three game advantage over the Celtics and could very well have the No. 2 seed blocked at this point. It might not make a huge difference even if the Raptors decide to limit the minutes to their best players, as they have handled major injuries well this year, but it might help the Sixers a bit.

We expect Matisse Thybulle to play for extended minutes and shine in it. Brett Brown insisted before the hiatus in the league that he was developing Thybulle with a playoff role in mind, and the rookie can solidify a spot in eight league games.

To win

August 14, TBD
Again, the position of each team in the standings will be an important factor. Like the Sixers, the Rockets are sixth in their conference but have the opportunity to rise.

The only meeting between the teams this year was one of Ben Simmons’ most encouraging performances as a screener and roller, as well as one of his best games. He had 29 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists. James Harden, meanwhile, recorded an even bolder triple-double, finishing with 44 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.

Harden is in a class by himself as an isolation marker, and he has been working on fitness for the past few months. It will be fascinating to see how the Rockets defend Embiid without a traditional center, but they look like a dangerous team.

Loss

General assessment of the classification match: 5-3

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