Joel Embiid, De’Anthony Melton Out vs Kings

The 39-32 Philadelphia 76ers will be missing up to four critical rotation pieces tonight when they square off against the 41-29 Sacramento Kings, who themselves are short three rotation players. It’s a battle of play-in clubs, as Philly is the East’s eighth seed, while Sacramento is the West’s seventh seed.

Philadelphia will be missing reigning 2023 MVP center Joel Embiid, still on the mend from his left knee meniscus surgery. The team will also be without starting shooting guard De’Anthony Melton, who remains unavailable due to lumbar spine bone stress (which sure sounds like no picnic).

Combo forward Robert Covington, in his second tour of duty with the Sixers, is unavailable with a left knee bone bruise. Wing Kelly Oubre Jr. is questionable to play through a sore left shoulder. On the G League side, Terquavion Smith is away from the team, with its Delaware Blue Coats NBAGL affiliate.

The Kings, meanwhile, will be missing starting shooting guard Kevin Huerter, most likely out for the year with a dislocated left shoulder. Two-way players Jordan Ford and Mason Jones are away from Sacramento with its Stockton affiliate.

Joel Embiid Contract Cost Per Game
Joel Embiid #21of the Philadelphia 76ers shoots the ball in the first half against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on January 25, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Embiid remains out for Philadelphia.

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Kings reserve big man Trey Lyles (left knee sprain) and backup rookie forward Sasha Vezenkov (right ankle sprain) are also out. Sacramento is still healthier than Philadelphia overall, however.

So what do all these absences mean for each team’s respective starting lineup? Let’s unpack that.

For the Kings, they’ll be starting their preferred first five, minus Huerter of course. That group includes All-Star point guard De’Aaron Fox, young wing Keon Ellis in for Huerter at the two-guard spot, 2015 champ Harrison Barnes at small forward, rising second-year player Keegan Murray at power forward, and All-Star Domantas Sabonis at center. The team made the announcement via its official X/Twitter account.

The Sixers will trot out All-Star point guard Tyrese Maxey, former six-time All-Star (and Philadelphia native) Kyle Lowry in for Melton at shooting guard, Nicolas Batum at small forward, Tobias Harris at power forward, and Mo Bamba in for Embiid at center. Philadelphia made the announcement through its own official Twitter/X account:

The action tips off tonight at 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET. It can be watched nationally via NBA TV or NBA League Pass, and locally on NBC Sports Bay Area-California and NBC Sports Philadelphia. According to sportsbook aggregator The Action Network, home team Sacramento is a -7.5 point favorite to pull off the W this evening. Time will tell if they can pull that off.