Sixers-Bucks: What you need to know


Sixers-Bucks: What you need to know

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

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)

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.

Jonah Bolden took a strange path, but now among familiar faces with Sixers

Jonah Bolden took a strange path, but now among familiar faces with Sixers

There are essentially two paths for young international players to enter the NBA.

They can stay overseas and play pro ball there until their number is called, or they can come over to the U.S. and hone their skills here before entering the draft.

Jonah Bolden kind of did both.

The 21-year-old Australian-born forward went to prep school in Las Vegas and New Hampshire before landing at UCLA. After not playing his freshman year for academic reasons, Bolden left the program midway through his second season to go play in Serbia.

"Coming from UCLA going to my first year professionally was a big difference," Bolden said at the Sixers' practice facility Friday. "Coming from the American style of play to the European style was also a big difference — the physicality, the speed of the game kind of slowed down. IQ level was a lot higher. There was an adjustment phase. Once I got through that, it was kind of a smooth ride."

Bolden shined last season with Beograd. He averaged 12.9 points and 7.2 rebounds a game on his way to receiving the Adriatic League's Top Prospect Award. That award has gone to the likes of Denver Nuggets budding star Nikola Jokic and, of course, one of the Sixers' Rookie of the Year candidates, Dario Saric.

Bolden's time with Beograd was almost as rocky as his time with UCLA. The team changed coaches three times during the course of last season. 

The Adriatic League is already difficult enough for a young player, making Bolden's season all the more impressive.

"That's a man's league," CSNPhilly Sixers analyst Mark Jackson said on draft night. "The NBA is a tough, physical league but we're talking about when you go to the hole, you better be praying while you're in the air. 

"For him to be that young and play 28 minutes a game … first of all young players in EuroCup, in Serbia, don't play. They play them maybe 10-15 minutes max. This guy's playing 28 minutes and averaging 12 points on a major team in Serbia. He must've really impressed his coaches to play him because they don't do that."

Other than the 6-foot-10 forward's athleticism, 7-foot-3 wingspan and ability to stretch the floor (he shot 42 percent from three last season), Bolden's tough style of play is part of what drew the Sixers to him. 

His father, Bruce Bolden, spent 17 years playing professionally in Australia. Brett Brown may have been anonymous in Philadelphia before becoming the Sixers' coach, but if you grow up in Australia playing basketball, you know the name.

During a brief conversation when Bolden arrived in Philly on Friday, Brown told him why the Sixers drafted him.

"Coming from Australia you hear about Brett Brown all the time," Bolden said. "I had about a 45-minute meeting with him and my dad and my agent were here. It felt comfortable. Like we were just back at home in Australia. 

"He just knows that I have that gritty, grindy Australian demeanor. He loves that. That's kind of what he's about."

Bolden is also familiar with another Aussie native: Ben Simmons. Bolden and Simmons are close in age and grew up playing against each other. Simmons left for America before Bolden, but the two spoke whenever Simmons came back.

Simmons was pretty happy when the team took Bolden No. 36 overall. It only added to Simmons' excitement level for the future, something he communicated when the old friends caught up.

"He said 'I fell in love after my second day [here],'" Bolden said. "He said, 'When you get here you'll see how it is. The fans, they fall in love with you. Just work hard and it'll happen for you.'"

Bolden may not have a ton to prove back in Serbia, but he's still under contract. The Sixers also have a crowded roster at the moment. And that's before free agency even starts.

Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo made it clear that all of the international prospects drafted last Thursday would likely be returning back to their respective leagues. He didn't completely close the door, saying "everything's up for discussion and debate" when it comes to how the Sixers will build their roster.

Bolden would love to be in Philly next season but will respect the team's decision.

"I could start today," Bolden said of when he'd like to play for the Sixers. "But there's uncertainty with that. The organization drafted me with a plan and I'm going to stick to the plan. I'm subject to a European contract at the moment but whatever the organization wants and they say is what'll happen."

Going No. 1 still 'hasn't hit' Markelle Fultz after whirlwind draft process

Going No. 1 still 'hasn't hit' Markelle Fultz after whirlwind draft process

Let’s pretend you were drafted No. 1 in the NBA draft: how would you commemorate it?

Chances are, it’s not doing what Markelle Fultz did. 

“I got some sleep,” Fultz said. “That was my celebration. I packed my bags and got some sleep.”

The 19-year-old had been on a whirlwind during the draft process. Up until a week ago, he was projected to land in Boston. A trade between the Sixers and Celtics quickly shifted Fultz’s new home to Philadelphia. Then he had the anticipation of the actual draft in New York City with public appearances and media circuits all before his name was called Thursday night.

“I haven’t had a chance to sit down and think about what just happened about the pick,” Fultz said. 

Sixteen hours after being selected by the Sixers, Fultz was back at their training complex in Camden, New Jersey, for an introductory press conference. He had been to the facility last Saturday for a workout, but this time his trip wasn’t quite the same as a three-hour drive from his home in Maryland.

“The difference is my mindset coming in here today,” Fultz said. “I know that I’m officially a part of this organization. I’ve just got my heart and soul into it now. I’m opening up, meeting everybody. I’m very happy. I’m very excited.”

Fultz was ushered around the court from the podium to stations with multiple media outlets and groups of reporters. He answered questions about his fit with the current roster, expectations, and long-term goals for the organization. 

Fultz’s world has been moving forward at rapid speed. Meanwhile, he still has plenty to catch up on from his day-old, pre-NBA life. Fultz had kept his phone turned off during the draft. He received over 300 missed messages and calls. 

“When I turned it on, it actually froze up,” he said. “I still haven’t replied to everybody. I’m pretty sure everybody knows what’s going on right now. I’m going to take the time out one day to make sure I reply to everybody.”

Fultz planned to go back to Maryland after his day in Philadelphia. His destination once he returned home: the basketball court. At first, Fultz thought he hadn’t worked out in two days. Then he remembered he had in fact done so while in New York for the draft, but the gym rat already was itching to get the ball in his hand again. 

“I’ve got to get back in the gym and get a workout in,” Fultz said. “Then I’m trying to get up here (to Camden) as soon as I can.” 

Even though Fultz still was soaking in his new future, he already has plans once he gets settled in Philadelphia. Fultz intends to volunteer his time to the youth, students, and homeless. 

“I want to impact the community a lot,” Fultz said. “Growing up, my mom has always put me in stuff like Food and Friends where we delivered dinners. I just know I have a blessing and I want to make other people feel blessed."

There will be little downtime for Fultz. Just as soon as he digests draft night, he will be traveling out west for summer league (see story). He's in no rush, though, to move beyond the enormity of being selected No. 1.

“I’m glad that it hasn’t hit me yet,” Fultz said. “I think when I sit down and it hits me, it’s going to be a very emotional time. Right now I’m just happy.”