Philadelphia 76ers

Sixers-Knicks 5 things: Winnable game vs. skidding Knicks

Sixers-Knicks 5 things: Winnable game vs. skidding Knicks

The Sixers (10-25) face the Atlantic Division rival New York Knicks (17-21) on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m./CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports app).

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Playoffs!?
The recent stretch of games has been kind to the Sixers, but good enough to start thinking playoffs?

If you’re Joel Embiid, the answer is yes. 

After putting up 20 points, five rebounds and four assists in the Sixers' 105-95 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, Embiid explained his belief that the Sixers can reach the postseason.

“I think we have a chance,” Embiid said. “We’ve been hot lately. ... We’re really figuring things out, we’re starting to learn how to win games.”

True. The Sixers have won three of their last four games and now sit 7½ games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

However, it may be a bit difficult to keep up this current run. Following Wednesday’s matchup with the Knicks, who have lost eight of their last nine, eight of the Sixers’ next nine games will be against teams with records above .500.

2. Reaching Rose
While the Sixers are thinking about the postseason, the slumping Knicks have been reduced to just figuring out where their players are at tip-off.

Point guard Derrick Rose missed the Knicks’ 110-96 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans at Madison Square Garden with the team unsure of his whereabouts. 

Rose rejoined the squad for practice on Tuesday and said he returned to his hometown of Chicago for family reasons. He spoke with Knicks officials and apologized to his teammates for going AWOL upon his return.

"It had nothing to do with the team or basketball," said Rose, who was fined by the Knicks. "That's the first time I ever felt like that emotionally and I had to be with my family."

Rose is expected to play on Wednesday night, but things haven’t exactly been going well for the veteran on the floor either. He’s averaging 14.8 points on 42.4 percent shooting from the field and 16.7 percent from three-point range over the last five games. Those numbers have caused him to be glued to the bench by head coach Jeff Hornacek for some recent fourth quarters.

We’ll see if Rose can block out the distractions and get back to business against the Sixers.

3. Chasson chasing his dreams
Speaking of point guards expected to see action Wednesday, Chasson Randle will likely make his NBA debut for the Sixers.

Randle signed a 10-day contract with the Sixers. The Stanford product previously averaged 20.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 19 games for the D-League’s Westchester Knicks this season. 

“I just want to bring a lot of energy on both ends of the floor, be aggressive, and try to make plays out there and be a great teammate because we’ve got a lot of great guys here,” Randle said after his first practice. “I’ve only been here 24 hours, but I can just tell these guys are amazing.”

4. Injuries
Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

Mindaugas Kuzminskas (illness) is a game-time decision for the Knicks.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost nine of their last 10 meetings with the Knicks.

• Kristaps Porzingis had 10 blocks in three games against the Sixers last season.

• Carmelo Anthony has averaged 23.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 30 career games against the Sixers.

How are Sixers impacted by Cavaliers-Celtics blockbuster trade?

How are Sixers impacted by Cavaliers-Celtics blockbuster trade?

The Celtics and Cavaliers pulled off a blockbuster trade to swap point guards Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas (among other pieces), a deal that still positions both teams at the top of the Eastern Conference (see story)

So what does it mean for the Sixers?

In the short-term, probably not much. The Celtics and Cavs are likely to finish first and second in the East and contend for a shot at the NBA Finals in the upcoming season. If the Sixers make the playoffs (a very realistic possibility if everyone stays healthy), both teams would be daunting opponents to upset.

The following season, though, is when things could get interesting. The Cavaliers will have two huge questions to address next summer and how they answer them will affect the rest of the East.

Thomas is entering the final year of his contract. He has said he believes he should garner a max deal. Will the Cavs pay up for Thomas, who will be 29 years old then, is currently coming off a hip injury and bases his game on speed and athleticism? Or will his time in Cleveland be brief? 

Then there’s LeBron James and his player option for the 2018-19 season. There’s no certainty James will remain to Cleveland after a rocky summer with front-office changes and a changing landscape of competition around the league. If the Cavs can’t get past the Celtics — or any other team for that matter — will he stay or seek a title elsewhere?

If the Cavs were to lose one or both players next offseason, that could open up the Eastern Conference and create an opportunity for teams on the rise, like the Sixers, to move up in the standings. 

The Sixers have maintained a measured, strategic approach to reconstructing the roster and stayed away from rushing into lengthy contracts just for the sake of spending cap space. An ideal situation for the Sixers is to be on an upward trend while others currently ahead of them are on the decline or rebuilding.

The Cavaliers also received a highly-coveted asset in the 2018 unprotected Nets pick from the Celtics, which actually could end up being the most valuable piece in this trade. Even if Thomas were to decide to sign with another team, the Cavs still could draft a top prospect to build with for the future. Or, they could include the pick in a trade and, depending where it goes, could impact the East or the West. 

Even though the Celtics parted ways with the Nets’ pick, they still have the 2018 protected Lakers’ pick they acquired from the Sixers in June as part of the trade up to No. 1 in the draft for Markelle Fultz. 

For years, moves among playoff teams in the East didn't have much of an impact on the Sixers. Now as they enter a new phase with a foundation in place to be competitive, a trade between the Celtics and the Cavaliers could affect their position in the standings in the future. 

NBA Notes: Cavaliers trade Kyrie Irving to Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, more in blockbuster

NBA Notes: Cavaliers trade Kyrie Irving to Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, more in blockbuster

CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving was tired of being teammates with LeBron James.

Now he has to figure out how to beat him.

Cleveland's All-Star guard, who asked owner Dan Gilbert to trade him earlier this summer, was dealt Tuesday night to the Boston Celtics for fellow All-Star Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets' unprotected 2018 first-round draft pick.

"It's extremely rare to trade for a 25-year-old player that's done what he's done, the offensive weapon that he is," Celtics president Danny Ainge said. "We feel like his best basketball is still ahead of him.

"We have a player that's proven to be a sure thing. We know how unpredictable the draft can be. You do pay a heavy price for a player of that age and that caliber."

Irving, whose late 3-pointer helped Cleveland win the 2016 NBA championship -- and the city's first title since 1964 -- is on his way to Boston, where he'll join a Celtics team that lost to the Cavs in last season's conference finals.

And as fate will have it, the Cavs will host the Celtics in their season opener on Oct. 17.

"Of course we know who our competition is, and we know who are biggest threats are each year," Ainge said. "But we feel like this is a trade that can make us better, and that's why we did it" (see full story).

Pacers: Poythress signed to 2-way contract
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Pacers have signed forward Alex Poythress to a two-way contract.

Poythress spent most of last season playing for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the NBA's G-League, where he averaged 18.5 points and 7.1 rebounds in 46 games.

The 6-foot-7, 238-pound former Kentucky player joined the 76ers on April 1. He averaged 10.7 points and 4.8 rebounds in six games with Philadelphia.

The Pacers signed Poythress on Tuesday.