How to watch Sixers at Thunder: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

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Noah Levick
·3 min read
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Maxey, Muscala and more to watch as Sixers wrap up another back-to-back originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The 9-5 Sixers will wrap up a back-to-back Sunday night in Oklahoma City, then have their first instance of two days between games since Dec. 24 and Christmas. 

Here are the essentials for their game against the 6-6 Thunder:

  • When: 7 p.m. EST with Sixers Pregame Live at 6 p.m. 

  • Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena

  • Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia 

  • Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the MyTeams app 

And here are three storylines to watch: 

No first-choice centers 

Neither member of the Sixers’ starting frontcourt on opening night last season will be available Sunday. Joel Embiid didn’t travel with the Sixers because of right knee pain, while Al Horford will miss his third consecutive game because of personal reasons.

Without Horford, the young Thunder have started Isaiah Roby, a 6-foot-8 second-year player from Nebraska. He chipped in 14 points, four rebounds and three assists Friday night before fouling out with 2:47 remaining and Oklahoma City trailing the Bulls by nine points. The Thunder managed to complete a comeback from 22 down with former Sixer Mike Muscala on the floor, thanks in large part to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who has averaged 21.6 points on a 61.4 true shooting percentage and 6.2 assists in his third NBA season. 

Like last season, Oklahoma City is focused on the future but capable of beating good teams in the present. 

Simmons’ turnover issues

As long as Ben Simmons is driving and kicking the ball out to open shooters, playing excellent defense and creating opportunities in transition, the occasional ill-advised venture into no man’s land or extended period of offensive ineffectiveness doesn’t tend to be very damaging or concerning for the Sixers.

When Simmons turns the ball over as much as he has early in the season, though, that’s problematic. Simmons’ 23.0 turnover percentage thus far would be the worst mark of his career by five percent, and it’s in the third percentile among players classified as point guards, per Cleaning the Glass.

As a team, the Sixers’ 17.2 turnover percentage ranks 28th in the NBA, according to Cleaning the Glass. Though some sloppiness is fair to expect given the early instability they’ve dealt with, that figure is “unacceptable,” as head coach Doc Rivers said Saturday. Simmons’ having too many stretches of loose decision-making is a key factor. 

Maxey and Muscala 

If not for Muscala’s game-winning three-pointer against the Heat on Aug. 12, Tyrese Maxey likely would not be a Sixer. Muscala’s jumper ensured that the top-20 protected first-round pick the Sixers acquired in the February 2019 Markelle Fultz trade would convey.

Maxey hasn’t hit three-pointers at a high-rate (27.8 percent), but he’s been impressive under unusual circumstances. Since entering the starting lineup after Seth Curry tested positive for COVID-19, the 20-year-old has averaged 19.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists.

“If he stays aggressive, he can score the ball at a high level already,” Simmons said of Maxey. “He’s still learning; I’m still trying to help him out a little bit with certain things, but his confidence is growing.”

Muscala, meanwhile, is putting up a career-high 5.3 three-pointers per game, making 37.9 percent. His shooting ability could challenge Dwight Howard and Tony Bradley defensively. It also might be a reason to try using Simmons at center in certain lineups, with Shake Milton and Maxey in the backcourt.