Sixers-Hawks: 5 things you need to know

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Sixers-Hawks: 5 things you need to know

Fresh off the dramatic victory over the Celtics on Evan Turner’s floater at the buzzer, the Sixers host the hot-shooting and well-rested Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.

Here are a few things to look for in the Sixers-Hawks matchup:

1. Rest for the weary
After playing three games in four days with trips to Milwaukee and Oklahoma City, the Hawks got an unexpected night off on Wednesday when a couple inches of snow and ice shut down Atlanta and postponed a game with the Pistons.

As a result, the Hawks haven’t played since Monday, which is a nice respite for a team that features four players 30 or older and has a few injuries.

Meanwhile, the Sixers are 5-9 in games following a victory this season and have won two in a row just twice this season. The Sixers haven’t won back-to-back games since Jan. 4 when they followed up a victory over Sacramento with one in Portland.

2. First-timers club
The Hawks come to town a day after power forward Paul Millsap was named to his first All-Star team. In his eighth season and first in Atlanta after spending the previous seven years in Utah, Millsap leads the Hawks in scoring (18.6 per game) and rebounding (8.4).

For those into the advanced statistics, Millsap has a 20.3 PER (a measure of a player's per-minute production), which is the 10th best among active players in the Eastern Conference.

At 6-foot-8, Millsap is a bruiser in the frontcourt and has 16 double-doubles this season.

3. Hey, remember us?
There are several ex-Sixers on the Hawks' roster. Among them, sharpshooter Kyle Korver has been the most notable this season by setting the still-growing record for most consecutive games with a three-pointer.

Korver has hit a three-pointer in every game he has appeared in since opening night of the 2012-13 season, a streak of 113 games. Korver is shooting an incredible 45.8 percent (296 for 646) from beyond the arc during the streak.

Lou Williams returned from an ACL injury ahead of schedule and has appeared in 31 games for the Hawks this season, averaging 9.6 points in 23.5 minute per game. Williams will be making his second appearance in Philadelphia with the Hawks after seven seasons with the Sixers.

Elton Brand is playing with his second team since the Sixers used the amnesty clause on him after the 2011-12 season. Following a season in Dallas, Brand, 34, is happily playing a reduced role off the bench for the Hawks.

Though he plays a little under 15 minutes a night, Brand is still a defensive presence. In limited playing time, Brand has 10 games in which he has blocked at least two shots and six games in which he swatted away three shots.

The Hawks also have guard Shelvin Mack, who appeared in four games with the Sixers while on a 10-day contract last season. For the Hawks, Mack averages 7.7 points and nearly 20 minutes per game.

4. Tricks of the trade
Sixers first-year coach Brett Brown will go against old friend, Mike Budenholzer, of the Hawks. Brown and Budenholzer were members of Gregg Popovich’s coaching staff in San Antonio for the past two decades and are breaking in as head coaches in the same season.

In other words, everything Brown knows about coaching, Budenholzer knows, too. And vice versa.

5. Injuries and miscellany
Arnett Moultrie (ankle) is still working himself into game shape. Last week, Brown said Moultrie’s ankle is fully recovered, but he’s not quite game ready.

Nerlens Noel (knee), Jason Richardson (knee) and Brandon Davies (finger) are out.

For the Hawks, Pero Antic (ankle), Al Horford (pectoral surgery) and John Jenkins (leg) are out. Flashy guard Jeff Teague is a game-time decision after spraining his ankle in San Antonio last week.

• Thad Young is averaging 3.2 steals per game over the last 10.

• Atlanta’s second-year forward Mike Scott is shooting 53.3 percent and averaging more than 13 points over his last 10 games.

• Korver has missed just three foul shots this season. He has hit his last 23 and hasn’t missed from the free-throw line since Dec. 10.

• Sixers starting shooting guard James Anderson is shooting 53.3 percent from the field in his last 10 games, but just 23.1 percent from three-point range.

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

WAYNE, Pa. — Three steps. 

That’s all it takes before Ben Simmons is recognized walking through the streets of Philadelphia. 

This year’s No. 1 pick has been in the spotlight long before the Sixers drafted him in June, and now he's experiencing what it's like to be known as an NBA player in his new city. 

“I’ve been enjoying walking around South Street, getting some Ishkabibble's,” Simmons said Tuesday after a special appearance at the Sixers' Camp at Valley Forge Military Academy. 

At 6-foot-10, Simmons towers above most on the court, let alone on the sidewalk. Fans have been eager to welcome him to Philadelphia for a new chapter of the organization after three years of struggle. 

“Positive things,” Simmons said of the comments he receives. “I think a lot of people are excited, so I’ve been looking forward to it.”

Simmons understands the impact a professional athlete can have on young fans, and was excited to be at camp Tuesday.

Growing up in Australia, he never had the opportunity to hear from NBA players when he attended basketball camps. Now that he's in that position, the 20-year-old was glad to provide that memory to the 240 campers. 

“That would mean a lot if I was able to experience that,” Simmons said. 

Simmons demonstrated skill drills, such as passing fundamentals, interacted in a Q&A session and signed autographs for each camper. He also took individual photos for those who traveled internationally, including from Nigeria, Italy and Greece. 

“I’m just like them, but older,” Simmons said. “I’m just trying to be a good role model to them.”

Simmons plans to spend most of the offseason in Philadelphia as he gets settled into the city. He still has to move into his new home, but at least he knows where to get a cheesesteak in the meantime. 

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

Two people with knowledge of the situation tell The Associated Press that the Miami Heat have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with free agent guard Dion Waiters.

The two sides came to agreement on Monday. Waiters will make $2.9 million. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the deal.

Waiters averaged 9.8 points for the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, but had several big games in the playoffs. He played particularly well against Dallas and San Antonio in the playoffs before his role was reduced in the seven-game loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals.

Waiters will give the Heat another scorer off the bench (see full story).

Blazers: C.J. McCullom inked to four-year extension
PORTLAND, Ore. -- A person familiar with the deal confirms that guard CJ McCollum has agreed to a four-year, $106 million contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Monday because the deal hadn't been formally announced by the team. It was first reported by Yahoo Sports.

McCollum, who was named the NBA's Most Improved Player, averaged 20.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists for the Blazers during the regular season. He raised his scoring average by more than 14 points over the previous season.

As the 10th overall pick for the Blazers in the 2013 draft, McCollum bided his time on the bench for his first two seasons. He became a starter in the backcourt with Damian Lillard last season after four of the team's starters departed in the offseason (see full story).

Michael Jordan donates $2 million to ease racial tensions
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Jordan is trying to help ease tension between African-Americans and law enforcement.

The NBA great and Charlotte Hornets owner said Monday he's giving $1 million to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The aim is to help build trust following several shootings around the country.

Jordan says in a statement to The Associated Press on Monday that "as a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers," (see full story).

Sixers officially sign guard Brandon Paul

Sixers officially sign guard Brandon Paul

The Sixers continued to add to their roster Monday, announcing the signing of guard Brandon Paul. 

Paul participated on the Sixers' summer league squad in Las Vegas, where he averaged 10.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 19.5 minutes. He also played for the Hornets in Utah. 

The 25-year-old went undrafted out Illinois in 2013 and has been playing overseas and in the D-League since then. Last season, he led FIATC Joventut (Spain) in scoring with 13.2 points per game. Paul also has been a member of the Canton Charge (D-League) and Nizhny Novgorod (Russia). 

Next season he could play for the Sixers' Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers. 

Paul is one of several offseason additions for the Sixers. The team has signed Ben Simmons, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, Sergio Rodriguez, James Webb III and Shawn Long. The Sixers also have reportedly agreed to a deal with Cat Barber.