Well, that game against the Knicks sure sucked. Spencer Hawes looked
legitimately rusty for the first time all season, Bad Evan Turner
appears to have fully taken over for the time being, and Andre Iguodala
again played an excellent first three quarters but came up well short in
the clutch, missing an open layup late in the game that effectively
doomed the team's chances. Not only did the 82-79 loss allow the
suddenly surging Knicks to gain another game on us in the Atlantic, it
also opened the door for the Celtics to take the division lead from us
tonight at the WFC, as the Boys in Green are now just a half-game behind
us in the standings.
It gets worse. With a loss tonight, we
don't just cede lead in the division, we could drop all the way to the
seventh in the standings—in other words, exactly where we were last year
when we got steamrolled by the Miami Heat in the first round. And if
you wanna get really doom and gloom about it, a loss tonight
combined with a Milwaukee win in Charlotte—the latter an all-but-certain
occurrence given the Bobcats' dismal season—would put the Sixers just
3.5 games above water in the Eastern post-season hunt, suddenly fearing
not only for home-court advantage playoffs, but just getting there at
So, we must ask: Where have you gone, Good Evan Turner? The
Extraterrestrial all but resurrected our season a little over two weeks
ago against this team in this building, when he went off for 26 points
in three quarters against the Celtics, kicking off a stretch of play
that almost made us believe we might have actually gotten the
second-best player in the 2010 draft after all. But the last four games
have been nearly as bad as that was good, making us worry about ET's
apparently bi-polar nature, on and possibly off the court. Can he get
his form back against the opponent that helped start it all? Lord, are
we hoping so.
8:00 tip from the WFC, in yet another nationally televised contest. San
Antonio coming up next (in San Antonio), and we're catching Boston on
the second night of a back-to-back, so a win tonight is all but
imperative to keep the team afloat in the Atlantic. There's still a good
team in here somewhere, and Coach Collins has 19 games left to figure
out how to locate it.
The Sixers will get Joel Embiid back in the lineup when they meet the Bucks on Monday afternoon in Milwaukee, but they'll be without their starting point guard.
T.J. McConnell will miss Monday's game with a sprained right wrist suffered in Saturday night's loss to the Wizards in D.C.
McConnell reportedly did not travel with the team to Milwaukee and is back home in Philadelphia.
The 24-year-old McConnell has been a presence this season for a Sixers team that desperately needed something from the point guard spot. In 38 games this season, McConnell has averaged 4.8 points, 5.8 points and 4.8 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists a night in an average of 22.3 minutes a game.
The highlight of McConnell's season, of course, came last week when he nailed the game-winning shot at the buzzer to give the Sixers a 98-97 victory over the Knicks.
Sergio Rodriguez is expected to start in McConnell's place Monday against the Bucks.
Traveling to Milwaukee means a return to where Ersan Ilyasova began his NBA career.
Twelve years later, it also means a return to his family when the Sixers visit the Bucks on Monday afternoon at the Bradley Center.
Ilyasova planted roots in Milwaukee during his seven seasons with the Bucks, who drafted him in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft. Though he has played for four teams since the Bucks traded him to the Pistons in the summer of 2015, Ilyasova has maintained a home base in the city he adopted after coming to the NBA from Europe.
“I kind of grew up there,” he said. “It’s a lot of time spent.”
Ilyasova’s lengthy tenure with his first team - which doesn’t always happen in the NBA - afforded him and his family the time to make Milwaukee their home.
His wife and three young children (daughters ages eight and five years old and son age three years old) have remained there while Ilyasova has moved around the league frequently. He has been a member of the Pistons, Magic, Thunder and Sixers in a matter of two seasons.
“It’s a huge thing,” Ilyasova said. “I haven’t seen the girls for two months now - a lot of Skype and FaceTime. I see my son, he flies back and forth with my wife.”
The Sixers flew to Milwaukee on Sunday from Washington, D.C. after Saturday night's loss to the Wizards at the Verizon Center. Ilyasova planned to stay at his house and catch up on the time he has missed while being away from his family. This includes missed time during the holidays while the team was on a west coast road trip.
“It’s always really exciting,” Ilyasova said. “They’re counting the days when I will come. They’re all excited to come to the game.”
Another highlight of being back in Milwaukee? A home-cooked meal.
“They’re already preparing it,” Ilyasova said. “It’s duck with apples in it.”