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Sixers-Rockets: 5 things you need to know
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The Sixers (4-4) will look to snap their two-game skid and stay above .500 when they host the Houston Rockets (5-3) on Wednesday night.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. (CSN) at the Wells Fargo Center.
Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:
1. Don’t blink
This matchup will likely be played at warp speed by two of the NBA’s more up-tempo teams.
Sixers president and general manager Sam Hinkie set out to recreate the fast pace he oversaw in Houston when he moved to Philadelphia. He hired a coach that shared that philosophy in Brett Brown and the Sixers have been running ever since.
The Sixers are fourth in the league in possessions per game with 101.7 and 10th in scoring with 103.3 points per matchup.
The Rockets aren’t far behind at sixth in the NBA with 100.9 possessions per contest. They led the league in that category last season at 98.6 possessions a night. Houston is also the league’s fifth-best scoring club with 106.1 points per game.
2. Battle of the boards
When things do slow down, the Sixers will have their hands full on the low block against Houston.
With bruisers Dwight Howard and Omer Asik patrolling the paint, the Rockets boast the league’s best rebounding team. The Rockets are tops in total rebounds (47.9 per game), defensive rebounds (36.6 per game) and rebound differential (plus-6.6).
While the Sixers have been solid rebounding the ball so far this season (tied for eighth in rebounds per game), they will need a complete team effort to compete on the glass in this one.
3. Hold down Harden
The only thing that has been able to slow down Rockets guard James Harden so far this season is a bruised left foot.
Harden consistently puts pressure on opposing defenses from inside the paint and from long range. The All-Star guard is tied for fourth in the NBA with 24.9 points per game. He is also tied for second in three-point attempts per game with seven.
Where the lefty really does his damage is at the charity stripe. Harden is third in the NBA in free throw attempts per game at 8.8, behind only Howard and former teammate Kevin Durant. He’s second in free throw makes per game with 7.4.
“You’re always amazed at how big he is -- physically and height wise. He's such a force downhill -- he gets to the rim and he draws fouls and he’s always coming at you,” Brown said. “He also has the ability to rise up and make threes or duck his head and bait fouls. He’s just a really hard guard.”
Harden scored 62 points on 54.8 percent shooting in two games against the Sixers last season. They will need to force the ball out of Harden’s hands whenever possible and crowd him during those barreling drives through the lane.
4. Injuries
Michael Carter-Williams (foot) did not practice on Tuesday and is day to day. Daniel Orton (knee) has missed the Sixers’ last three games and is day to day.
Sixers big men Nerlens Noel (knee), Kwame Brown (hamstring) and Arnett Moultrie (ankle) and guard Jason Richardson (knee) are all out.
Houston’s Harden (foot), Jeremy Lin (flu), Francisco Garcia (flu) and Chandler Parsons (back spasms) are all listed as day to day.
5. This and that
• Wednesday’s game also features two of the league’s worst defenses. The Sixers are dead last in points allowed at 107.1 per game, while the Rockets are 25th at 103.6.
• The Sixers have won four of the last five against the Rockets in Philadelphia.
• Houston is next-to-last in turnovers with 19.4 per game.
• Howard had 24 points and 25 rebounds in two games against the Sixers last season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
• The Sixers are allowing a league-high 12 three-pointers per game.