Philadelphia 76ers vs. New Orleans Pelicans Pick & Prediction MARCH 8th 2024

The Philadelphia 76ers once held championship aspirations.

After a series of injuries, most notably to reigning Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid, the Sixers since have careened into the race for a play-in berth.

The Sixers blew a 15-point lead and fell 115-109 to the depleted Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday for their second loss in a row.

The short-handed Sixers also played without Tyrese Maxey (concussion), Kyle Lowry (rest), De’Anthony Melton (back) and Robert Covington (knee).

Philadelphia will look to avoid a third straight loss when it hosts the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday. Lowry is the only one likely to return to face the Pelicans.

Kelly Oubre Jr. led the Sixers with 25 points while Paul Reed added 17 points and 11 rebounds and Cam Payne added 16 points. Buddy Hield also had 15.

“We just really needed to guard the ball a little better and get a defensive rebound or two,” Sixers coach Nick Nurse said. “We probably would have been in better shape.”

The Sixers especially struggled in the fourth quarter, when they were outscored 34-16.

Without All-Stars like Embiid and Maxey as well as key role players, others need to step up. Tobias Harris scored only eight points and Reed fouled out.

All the Sixers can do is try and persevere.

“This is obviously an adverse time for Philadelphia and it’s tough as a player,” Oubre Jr. said. “I can’t even go on my phone because after the game you just feel so embarrassed and you feel like you let the city down, let your team down, and stuff like that. It’s something we kind of have to face and get through.”

The Pelicans are a team surging as the playoffs approach. They will arrive in Philadelphia with a two-game winning streak.

Following a 129-102 victory over the Indiana Pacers, the Pelicans routed the Toronto Raptors 139-98 on Tuesday.

Trey Murphy III tied his career high with 10 made 3-pointers on his way to a 34-point performance. The franchise record is 11 set by CJ McCollum.

“Trey was fantastic,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “When he’s shooting the ball like that, we are a hard team to beat. He knows that. It’s good to see him start to make some shots. It opens up the lane for the rest of our group when he’s making shots like he is tonight. Herb Jones, same thing.”

Jones added 17 points and Zion Williamson had 16 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.

The Pelicans knocked down 24 shots from 3-point range, shot 50.5 percent from the field and improved to 19-13 on the road this season. They made 24 of 49 shots from beyond the 3-point arc.

Because of the large margin in the Pelicans’ victory, they were able to rest their starters for much of the second half.

“Every game, we want to give ourselves a chance to win it,” Green said. “It’s special when you can go out on the road and win games. It lets you know you have an opportunity to be a really good team.”

The Pelicans led by as many as 43 and also received 10 points and 10 rebounds from Jonas Valanciunas. Brandon Ingram scored 12 points while McCollum and Naji Marshall contributed 11 apiece.

–Field Level Media

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