Portland Trail Blazers vs. Philadelphia 76ers Pick & Prediction JANUARY 29th 2024

There’s no telling whether 76ers star Joel Embiid will be on the floor when Philadelphia visits the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.

Embiid missed Saturday’s 111-105 road loss to the Denver Nuggets due to left knee soreness. That drew the ire of Nuggets coach Michael Malone because Embiid wasn’t listed on Philadelphia’s injury report.

Embiid is on the list now with the 76ers reporting him as questionable to play against the Trail Blazers. He leads the NBA in scoring at 36 points per game.

Embiid apparently aggravated the knee during Thursday’s 134-122 road loss against the Indiana Pacers. One game earlier, he scored a career-best 70 points in a 133-123 home victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

Part of the controversy involving the Nuggets was due to this being the fourth consecutive season that Embiid sat out during his lone appearance in Denver.

The pattern raises eyes in the Mile High City with Embiid being the reigning NBA MVP and Nuggets star Nikola Jokic winning the honor the previous two seasons.

Philadelphia coach Nick Nurse said there weren’t any conspiracy theories in play with Saturday’s decision. He said the trainers didn’t like the way Embiid looked during pregame warmups.

“He really wanted to play, and the medical team did not deem him fit to play today,” Nurse said after Saturday’s game. “That’s too bad for those fans. That’s too bad.”

Paul Reed did a pretty good Embiid impression against Denver with a career-high 30 points on 14-of-21 shooting. He also grabbed 13 rebounds, one shy of his career best, while registering his eighth career double-double.

Kelly Oubre Jr. also stood out with 25 points on a day in which Tyrese Maxey (left ankle) and Tobias Harris (illness) also sat out. Both players are listed as questionable for Monday’s game.

The 76ers are 0-2 on a five-game road trip that concludes with games against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday and the Utah Jazz on Thursday.

When Philadelphia and Portland met on Oct. 29, Embiid was on the floor and had 35 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and a season-high six blocked shots as the 76ers rolled to a 126-98 home victory.

Shaedon Sharpe led Portland with 20 points in that contest. Sharpe will sit out Monday for the 10th straight game due to an abdominal injury.

The Trail Blazers have dropped four of their past five games after falling 104-96 to the visiting Chicago Bulls on Sunday night. Portland was a woeful 6 of 33 from 3-point range.

Jerami Grant had 24 points and Deandre Ayton added 22 points and 12 rebounds for his 15th double-double of the season for Portland. Ayton is averaging 20 points on 27-of-42 shooting (64.3 percent) over the past three games.

“We’ve been trying to make a real effort to get the ball to D.A.,” Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said. “He’s been doing a really good job. He’s starting to find himself. … I’m really happy to see that.”

Ayton made 9 of 12 shots against Chicago while scoring 20 points in consecutive games for the first time this season.

“We’re not going to stop competing, we’re going to compete to the end,” Ayton said of the team’s effort in Sunday’s loss.

Anfernee Simons, who scored 40 points in Friday’s 116-100 road loss against the San Antonio Spurs, had just 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting. He shot just one free throw and has attempted four or fewer free throws in five of the past six games.

“I think one improvement area for Ant is learning how to draw fouls,” Billups said.

–Field Level Media

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