The home game against the Sacramento Kings on Friday night will offer a good test for rookie Nerlens Noel.
The 76ers center will be paired up against DeMarcus Cousins. In addition to being an NBA all-star, the Kings center is one of the league's most intimidating players.
"You are looking at the man that has [about] 60 pounds as an advantage," Sixers coach Brett Brown said of the matchup with the 221-pound Noel. "So you are dealing with an elite interior presence.
"It's a fantastic presence for Nerlens, and he's going to need a lot of help with just team defense. It's not going to be a one-on-one battle."
The 6-foot-11 Cousins was tied for sixth in the NBA in scoring (23.3 points per game) and was third in rebounding (12.2) heading into Thursday's games.
His 39 double-doubles are the second-highest total in the NBA this season. And Cousins has been known for intimidation tactics during his five-year career.
This will be Noel's first matchup against Cousins, 24. But the two do have a relationship as former Kentucky standouts. Cousins was a Wildcats freshman in the 2009-10 season before he entered the NBA draft. Noel, 20, left Kentucky for the NBA after his freshman season in 2012-13.
"I just see this like [going against] all the other guys," such as Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard and Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic, Noel said. "You know, just doing my best to get in front of them in the post and make sure I'm getting back into the play, being able to get in rebound position."
Noel is averaging 8.8 points, 7.8 rebounds 1.9 blocks, and 1.8 steals. He has had 10-plus rebounds and four-plus steals in each of the last four games.
The Sixers (14-50) had their four-game series winning streak snapped against the Kings (22-41) on March 12, 2014.
Once a regular in the rotation, Henry Sims is now Mr. Missing in Action. The power forward/center did not play because of coach's decision in the last three games.
"I would suspect that he wouldn't be [OK with becoming a bystander]," Brown said. "I wouldn't blame or begrudge him at all. He's a competitor. That's just where we are at."
Not playing him allows the Sixers to give much-needed playing time to Furkan Aldemir. When he has played, Sims has been effective, averaging 8.5 points and 5.1 rebounds in 19.7 minutes.
"I feel like I've got a good handle on Henry," Brown said of knowing what Sims brings to the team. "The thing with Henry is if you look at our bench when he's not playing, he blows me away with what a good teammate he is.
"He's always the first person up swinging a towel, greeting people off the floor."