Sixers-Bucks: What you need to know

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Sixers-Bucks: What you need to know

Sixers vs. Bucks - 7 p.m., CSN
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia

Records
Sixers: 27-43 (Ninth in Eastern Conference)

Bucks: 34-35 (Eighth in Eastern Conference)

Last meeting
The Bucks took the season series (and playoff tiebreaker) from the Sixers with a 94-92 victory in Milwaukee on Feb. 13. Led by 27 points from Monta Ellis and 21 points from Brandon Jennings, the Bucks overcame an early double-digit deficit to escape when Jrue Holiday’s jumper in the waning seconds bounced out.

Meanwhile, the Bucks are going for their first season sweep over the Sixers since the 1973-74 season (Sixers coach Doug Collins’ rookie season) and their first four-win season over the Sixers since 1985-86.

Who’s hot
Spencer Hawes’s string of double-doubles ended in the 107-91 loss to the Jazz on Sunday night, though he did lead the starting unit with 14 points on 4-for-7 shooting. Over the past 10 games, Hawes is averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds per game.

Dorell Wright led the Sixers with 19 points off the bench on Monday. In the last two games, Wright has scored 41 points on 8-for-18 shooting from three-point range.

For the Bucks, Jennings, Ersan Ilyasova and Larry Sanders are coming off double-double performances in a loss to Atlanta. Sanders has grabbed at least 10 rebounds in eight straight games and Ilyasova has averaged 21.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in his last four games.

Ellis has provided the scoring punch with at least 20 points in 13 of the last 15 games. Ellis ranks 11th in the NBA with 19.4 points per game, while Jennings ranks 20th with 18.0 points per game.

Who’s not
Evan Turner shot 2 for 6 for six points and zero assists in Monday’s loss in Utah. Since the All-Star break, Turner is shooting 39.1 percent from the floor and is just 7 for 14 from the foul line in his last 11 games. In the six games since scoring 15 points in a March 13 loss to the Heat, Turner has scored a total of 50 points on 22-for-54 (40.7 percent) shooting, including 3 for 8 from the foul line.

Probable starters

Sixers (last 10 games)

Thad Young (17.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg)

Damien Wilkins (12.8 ppg, 52.6 FG%)

Spencer Hawes (15.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg)

Evan Turner (9.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg)

Jrue Holiday (15.5 ppg, 8.4 apg)



Bucks (last 10 games)

Marquis Daniels (5.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
Ersan Ilyasova (18.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg)
Larry Sanders (11.4 ppg, 11.6 rpg)
Monta Ellis (22.7 ppg, 6.2 apg)
Brandon Jennings (15.6 ppg, 8.1 apg)

Injuries
Jason Richardson and Andrew Bynum are out for the year.

For the Bucks, Mike Dunleavy (illness) is probable for Wednesday’s game. Luc Mbah a Moute (turf toe) is out indefinitely.

Jahlil Okafor relieved deadline has passed; Bryan Colangelo explains why no trade

Jahlil Okafor relieved deadline has passed; Bryan Colangelo explains why no trade

Jahlil Okafor is still a Sixer.

He's not a New Orleans Pelican or a Portland Trail Blazer or a Dallas Maverick. He's not going back home to Chicago or to Indiana to play with Paul George. He's in Philly for at least the next 26 games and he's ready to get to work.

"I was happy that the trade deadline was over with and I knew where I'd be finishing the rest of the season," Okafor said. "After the past couple weeks I couldn't wait until 3 o'clock yesterday would pass, which means I wouldn't have to worry about where I would be and have to deal with all the trade rumors.

"It's a sigh of relief. I'm glad it's over with. I'm still a Sixer so I'm excited about playing tonight."

Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo on Friday spoke at length about the team's future. He's said he's planning to build around the team's "transformational players" in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

He also addressed the deal that sent Nerlens Noel to Dallas for a protected first-round pick, Justin Anderson and Andrew Bogut. With all of the rumors swirling around Okafor, there wasn't much chatter around Noel.

The biggest reason for Noel's departure is his contract. Noel is set to become a restricted free agent this summer. He's a desirable player in today's NBA as a big that can run the floor and offer elite rim protection. Okafor can't become a restricted free agent until 2019.

Colangelo said there was a market for Okafor, but he just couldn't find the right deal.

"The market dictates what’s there and interestingly given our situation with the multiple talented bigs I think it's safe to say people view us as a place to come if they are looking for a big," Colangelo said. "Several bigs were out there and available on the market. A trade went down early. (Jusuf) Nurkic going to Portland. There was some conversation with Jahlil early, some advanced discussions to the point we pulled him out of a game situation just because there was so much at stake given the terms of a proposed transaction."

It seems like Okafor has been on the trade block since the day he was drafted third overall in 2015. With Embiid's emerging as a star and Noel's being the team's longest-tenured big, it had been difficult to see Okafor's long-term fit with the Sixers.

To Okafor's credit, he's taken it all in stride. As Colangelo alluded to, he had "advanced" talks on a deal that would send Okafor to Portland. The talks got serious enough to where Okafor was held out of a win over the Heat and began the handshaking ritual of a player on the move. He was also held out of the next game in Charlotte.

Through all of it, Okafor wasn't bitter. He just quietly kept working.

"I never looked at me being shopped as a negative thing," Okafor said. "It's just part of the business... I am here so there are no hard feelings or anything like that. No, not at all.

"I never felt disconnected from the team. When I wasn't traveling with the team I was still here in the facility with [Embiid and Simmons]. I was never just at home alone or anything like that. I was still with the team. Some of the coaches would stay back so I always felt connected with the Sixers."

Okafor will get his first action of the second half of the season tonight against the Wizards. He's been dealing with knee soreness, a result of a surgery to repair a torn meniscus last March. He said Friday afternoon that he's feeling healthy after the All-Star Break and the Rising Stars Challenge.

After all the speculation and rumors, Okafor just wants to play basketball.

"I think it's something a lot of players in the NBA have to deal with," he said. "We're all basketball players. We want to play well for ourselves and for our team.

"Whatever happens in a few months, we'll see what happens then. Right now I'm just worried about playing these last 26 games and playing well for the city and playing well for the team. "

Colangelo admits mistake when classifying Joel Embiid's injury

Colangelo admits mistake when classifying Joel Embiid's injury

CAMDEN, N.J. -- In retrospect, the Sixers would have done things differently.

For more than a month, the team did not announce a timeframe for Joel Embiid's return from a left knee contusion. After he missed 14 of the last 15 games, the Sixers said on Wednesday Embiid would be out the next four games and are targeting a March 3 return.

The next day, president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo addressed the lack of timetable provided. 

"We should have just said 'out indefinitely,' even though the treatment was still day to day," Colangelo said. "But the fact that there was uncertainty, I'll own that."

Embiid's injury goes back to Jan. 22 when he suffered the contusion against the Trail Blazers. After the Sixers held him out three games, he played on Jan. 27 against the Rockets and has been sidelined since.

Embiid was very candid on Thursday in expressing his displeasure of how his injury news had been shared. While he had been optimistic he would return earlier than March, citing a recovery period of less than a month, it didn't line up with the day-to-day status.

"I wasn't too happy with the way it was kind of handled before," Embiid said.

"I saw the day-to-day part. I was told that I was going to miss at least two or three weeks. So I wasn't happy with the way it was handled.

"I thought keeping my name out there was going to just like literally have people think about me all the time instead of just saying when I was going to be back. So I'm happy that they did that today and they said that I'm out for the next four games."

Colangelo addressed that timetable.

"The two-to-three week comment, I think I know where that came from," Colangelo said. "There was a lot of discussion, and despite the fact that we were saying it's day-to-day treatment and evaluation, two to three weeks may have been mentioned as a possibility of what it may be. But a possibility.

"To say that publicly may not have been the best thing at the time because I was also told sometimes it's four to six weeks for a bone bruise to resolve itself."

The lack of clarity on Embiid's return had upset Sixers fans who wanted more transparency. They had been through years of lengthy injuries, including the past two with Embiid, and were frustrated by this recent absence.

"There's never, ever been any effort to deceive fans, to mislead fans, to mislead [media]," Colangelo said. "We give the information as we're given the information. We've got very good medical care, very good medical oversight. Everything is explainable, but injuries are unpredictable is the best way I can describe it."

Embiid isn't the only player whose status was made public this week. On Friday, Colangelo also announced Ben Simmons will miss the remainder of this season. The first overall pick has been sidelined since training camp after suffering a Jones fracture in his right foot.

"There's no deceit, there's no movement toward doing anything to be dishonest here at all. It's quite simple," Colangelo said. "Injuries are a hard thing to manage. Injuries are a harder thing to manage with daily interface with the media, the public, games being played, the schedule, no practice, practice -- it's a sensitive issue. 

"And you're not talking about simple things. You're talking about complex injuries, you're talking about high-level performers and I'm calling them our stars. They're the ones everyone wants to see. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. And they're both out. Nobody is more frustrated than them."

After not committing to injury timetables, the Sixers are committing to taking a different approach. 

"It was our mistake to put out 'day-to-day' opposed to 'out indefinitely,' Colangelo said. "But that mistake will not be made again."