The Philadelphia 76ers are expecting star center Joel Embiid to return to the lineup Friday, when they aim for their third three-game winning streak this month while hosting the Houston Rockets. Embiid (knee) missed three games in a row but the surging 76ers are proving they can survive without his emerging talents, knocking off the Los Angeles Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks in a back-to-back earlier this week.
“We want to better execute some of the things we have drawn up, but in general, their perseverance in finding a way to get a win was outstanding,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown told reporters after his team held on to top the Bucks 114-109 on Wednesday. Nerlens Noel hit a key late jumper in the win and is averaging 17.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and two blocks in the two-game win streak, which comes after he scored in single digits in five straight contests. After a remarkable 20-2 stretch, the Rockets dropped six of their last nine games, including a 120-109 setback at Boston on Wednesday. The Celtics shot 51.6 percent from the floor and opponents averaged 124 points against Houston in its last three losses.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN, ROOT Southwest (Houston), CSN Philly (Philadelphia)
LINE HISTORY: The Rockets opened as 7.5-road favorites against the surging 76ers and, as of Friday afternoon, there have been no changes to that number. The total hit the betting board at 219.5 and hasn’t moved. Check out the complete line history here.
Rockets – SG Eric Gordon (Questionable, back)
76ers – PF Richaun Holmes (Questionable, elbow), C Joel Embiid (Doubtful, knee), C Jahlil Okafor (Doubtful, knee), SF Ben Simmons (Late February, foot)
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Rockets (-9.2) – 76ers (-2.7) + home court (-3) = Rockets -3.5
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (34-15 SU, 29-20 ATS, 26-23 O/U): James Harden finished with 30 points and 12 assists in the loss to the Celtics, but he shot 6-for-18 and had seven of Houston’s 17 turnovers. Sam Dekker contributed 15 points off the bench and is averaging 16.5 – more than double his season average – over the course of the last four games. Guard Eric Gordon was a late scratch due to a back issues and is day-to-day.
ABOUT THE 76ERS (17-27 SU, 26-18 ATS, 20-23-1 O/U): Embiid gets most of the headlines but guard T.J. McConnell’s improvement has also been critical in allowing Philadelphia to turn things around. He had 13 assists versus Milwaukee and handed out at least 10 in three straight games, while recording three steals in two of those affairs. Veteran Gerald Henderson is averaging 13.7 points during those three games and will be aiming to score in double digits for a season-high fourth straight game.
* Rockets are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games playing on 1 days rest.
* 76ers are 11-2 ATS in their last 13 games overall.
* Under is 5-1 in Rockets last 6 overall.
* Under is 7-1-1 in 76ers last 9 home games.
* Rockets are 1-4 ATS in the last 5 meetings in Philadelphia.
Check out a complete list of hot and cold trends, here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 57 percent of Covers users are siding with the home underdog 76ers and Over is picking up 58 percent of the totals wagers. View full consensus data here.