The Philadelphia 76ers should be riding a high when they arrive for Wednesday night’s game against the host Charlotte Hornets.
The Hornets are just about at a low spot.
How that impacts the teams could be a bit of a curiosity on the eve of Thanksgiving.
Coach Doc Rivers had his Philadelphia team in a good mindset this week, though that might have been easy given that Ben Simmons was returning to Philadelphia with an opposing team Tuesday.
The injury-taxed 76ers were without Joel Embiid and James Harden on Tuesday and still edged rival Brooklyn 115-106.
“Go out there and be together and play hard and just be aggressive,” guard DeAnthony Melton said of the approach. “That was the biggest thing we were doing.”
Rivers has been dealing with some roster uncertainty because of his players’ various ailments. Playing on back-to-back nights could bring those further into play.
“We want to get better for the next game,” Melton said.
The Hornets just want to be better in any way possible. They’ve lost 11 of their last 12 games.
There are lots of things that need to improve to get Charlotte on track. Some might be relatively simple.
“We have to start playing tougher and be more physical,” coach Steve Clifford said. “It can’t just be when we feel good. We have to rebound and have a block-out attitude. (If) we start playing tougher and with some physicality, we’ll start to win.”
The Hornets should be relatively well-rested. Without games Monday and Tuesday, they had their first two-day break since Oct. 24-25.
“We play eight of our next 11 here at home,” Clifford said. “I think this can be a stretch where we need to win games and make progress.”
Part of the injury situation looks brighter for the Hornets, with Gordon Hayward returning late last week and Dennis Smith Jr. back in action Sunday following a four-game absence.
LaMelo Ball might still be out with another ankle injury; if that’s the case, the Hornets are bound to rely on a different level of personnel.
The Hornets have just five players who have appeared in all 18 games. Terry Rozier has missed seven games, but he holds the team’s top scoring average at 20.3, just above Kelly Oubre Jr. (19.4), who has played in every game.
Charlotte backup center Nick Richards has back-to-back double-doubles for the first time in his career.
The 76ers are counting on their depth, even with the quick turnaround.
“With guys out, we still have a lot of pieces that can help and contribute,” forward Tobias Harris said. “We have a lot of guys who, early on, were out of the rotation — had great training camps, great preseasons — and now have this opportunity to play.”
Harris has been among the 76ers with ailments, but he poured in a team-high 24 points to help beat Brooklyn.
–Field Level Media