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76ers seek improvement on the road at Thunder

The Philadelphia 76ers are still trying to figure out how to win without Joel Embiid.

Heading into Sunday’s road game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the 76ers are 0-3 this season without Embiid in the lineup.

Philadelphia is 7-0 with its starting lineup intact and 2-5 when missing one or more starters.

Embiid doesn’t figure to be the only starter out for the 76ers, as Seth Curry has missed six consecutive games, the last five after testing positive for COVID-19.

Philadelphia will be without its All-Star center for the second consecutive game after Embiid remained in Philadelphia for the two-game road trip, which began Saturday with a 106-104 loss in Memphis.

Embiid is dealing with right knee soreness.

“Get over it and win the game,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said, rejecting the notion that missing Embiid or others was an excuse.

Rivers said the 76ers are going to continue to be cautious with Embiid.

“We want him to play as many games as he can play,” Rivers said. “But again, we have to be smart; it is a long season. We want everyone, not just Joel, we want everyone to be healthy and at their prime state when they get to the playoffs.”

The 76ers haven’t had much success in Oklahoma City with or without Embiid, going 1-10 there since the Thunder franchise began.

Overall, the Thunder are 20-3 against Philadelphia, their best mark against any opponent since 2008-09.

In his third year, Shake Milton figures to play in his home state for the first time. Milton has been inactive in each of the 76ers last two visits to Oklahoma City. Over the last three games, Milton is averaging 27.7 points, by far the best three-game stretch of his career.

Oklahoma City is coming off one of the biggest comebacks in franchise history. The Thunder trailed Chicago by 22 points in the third quarter before coming back to win 127-125 in overtime.

That game, Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said was an important growing experience for an inexperienced Thunder team.

“That’s the type of mentality we’re trying to nurture,” Daigneault said. “Even if we didn’t win it, we stood back up, which was progress for us. There’s no guarantee you’re going to win when you continue to compete but if you continue to compete, you give yourselves a chance.”

Sunday’s game is the finale of a four-game home stand for the Thunder. The win over the Bulls was their first at home this season.

For the third consecutive game, the Thunder will face off against a key piece of its recent run of success before an offseason roster overhaul.

Sunday, it’ll be Terrance Ferguson playing against Oklahoma City for the first time after being traded with Danny Green to the 76ers in a package that brought Al Horford and Theo Maledon to the Thunder.

Ferguson has yet to break into the 76ers regular rotation, though, and didn’t play in the loss to Memphis.

Neither Embiid nor backup forward Mike Scott, who also has right knee pain, made the two-game road trip.

The Thunder are likely to be without Horford for the third consecutive game. After missing Wednesday’s game for rest, Horford has remained away from the team for personal reasons, missing the win over Chicago and Saturday’s practice.

–Field Level Media

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