The Trail Blazers will be competing against the 76ers on Wednesday potentially without point guard Damian Lillard. Lillard sustained a sprained right ankle in the closing minutes of the first half of their win versus the Grizzlies on Monday. He would come back to play in the second half regardless of the pain his ankle was putting him through.“It felt bad,” Lillard told NBCSN Northwest about his ankle. “Honestly I was a little bit discouraged, a little bit worried. I went back (to the locker room) and it stiffened up a little bit.”
Lillard knew he had to do what all of the greats in sports do when they get injured in order to retain a win. Play through the injury.
“I kind of played mind games with myself,” Lillard said. “I said, ‘This is going to be a big moment for you. You’ve got to challenge yourself.’ Some of our staff were like, ‘We’d rather have you in Philly.’ Nothing is guaranteed. We needed this win. I wanted to be out here and impact the game, any way I could.”
Lillard finished the game with 24 points on 8-17 shooting and ended the night letting everyone know he will be available to play on Wednesday. Through Tuesday there have been no reports of any setbacks therefore it’s easy to assume he will absolutely be ready although it’s still best to monitor his status throughout the day until tip-off at 4:00pm PT.
The Trail Blazers have won four of their previous contests with two straight wins.
The Sixers are starting to prove they are trustworthy of bringing this “process” of becoming one of the league’s best teams to fruition. With Embiid looking fully healthy with only the need of more conditioning and Ben Simmons’ ability to exploit mismatches at the point guard position being a borderline seven footer at the position makes them a threat to any team in the league. They conjured up a 22-point lead in the first half against the Warriors (before ultimately blowing it in the second half and losing 124-116) and then followed it up by defeating the Jazz by 21 points behind Simmons’ career-best 27 points to go with 10 rebounds marking his 11th double-double in his 16 game career.
Even without Markelle Fultz, the 76ers have been exemplified their ambitions of bringing the playoff atmosphere back to Philly with their foot glued to the gas pedal on the way. Defeating the Trail Blazers will be a huge win for the Sixers placing them three games above .500 while elevating their confidence as all wins usually do for young teams that know they have a lot to prove.
Wednesday’s contest between these two teams should go down to the wire. Both teams are statistically even from per game stats to their win-loss record similarities. Portland currently possess the second best defense in the league as far as their opponents’ points scored at 97.2ppg which is great for them and their team success given their offense floating around the bottom tier within the NBA. Philly holds opposite numbers within those statistical categories. Their offense is seventh in the NBA and their defense is 26th. The team that takes better care of the ball and prevents more baskets off of turnovers or fast breaks will be the team to grind out the victory. That would be the Sixers in this contest. They already have a better transition offense, they hold a size mismatch at the guard position having to find ways to contain Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid is looking almost unstoppable with his ability to do just about everything there is to do on a basketball court. Embiid embodies the the skills to become the most dominant big man player since the most dominant player of all time; Shaquille O’neal. Although, what’s more intriguing than Embiid’s actual play is his trash talking both on the court and on social media. Embiid has taken his game to the next level from what we seen from him during the 2016-2017 season by adding prime trash talk and backing up every ounce of it. Watch out for a lot of that throughout this game — or log onto your twitter after the game. He usually proceeds with his trash talk after victories.