Sixers Play First Actually Good Opponent in Weeks at Home Tonight

Sixers Play First Actually Good Opponent in Weeks at Home Tonight

The Philadelphia 76ers recently completed a six-game pre-Thanksgiving
stretch which included five games at home and opponents including the
Jazz, Raptors, Pistons and Cavaliers (twice). It would've been awesome
if the Sixers had grabbed five or (lord forbid) all six of those, and
would've been good if they had won four of 'em, but instead, the Ballers
split the six-gamer down the middle, getting three and giving three.
Now, things are about to get a little tougher, starting tonight with a
contest against the 9-4, Northwest-best Oklahoma City Thunder.


OKC has been a little stilted out of the gate, struggling to adjust a
bit after trading away a core player in the off-season in dynamic
scoring guard James Harden. They got a good return in bench
sharp-shooter Kevin Martin, but have missed Harden's stability and
play-making, and have struggled offensively at times—though when you
have two All-NBA scorers averaging over 20 a game in Kevin Durant and
Russell Westbrook, "struggle" is always a relative term. In any event,
OKC dropped a tough one last night against the erratic Boston Celtics,
so look for the Thunder to be out for blood tonight at the Wells Fargo
Center.


The Sixers should be smarting a little themselves after a brutal
loss against a crappy, injured Cavaliers team in Cleveland, which saw
Cleveland connect on 13 out of 23 threes as little-used reserve guard
Jeremy Pargo went for a career high 28 after franchise Cav Kyrie Irving
was held to 14 in the two teams' first matchup of the season. "Just one
of those games" was my Dad's analysis and I'm inclined to agree, though
some of the team's flaws were badly exposed in that game—particularly
their lack of a solid presence in the middle, as the team's small lineup
(with Thad at the five) was pummeled on the boards by Anderson Varejao
at the end of the game, getting the team endless second opportunities
that they used to bury the Sixers.


It'll be interesting to see what big man rotation Coach Collins goes
with tonight, as well as what he plans to do about the superstar
swingman Durant, as the last time the Sixers faced a dynamic wing like
KD, the Knicks' Carmelo Anthony, the results were not pretty. You'd like
to see Evan Turner, who has struggled with his shot in the last few but
contributed with his rebounding and passing, picking up the challenge,
though Dorell Wright and Thaddeus Young will also likely see action on
Durant as well. And Jrue Holiday will have a hell of a matchup of his
own to work with, as he will undoubtedly be stuck to his fellow UCLA
alum Westbrook for most of the game.


7:00 tip from the WFC. If the Sixers struggle out of the gate
tonight, a starting lineup shakeup might be called for, and we don't
want to see that—with the possible exception of actually getting a
starting center at some point.

Joel Embiid is the Joel Embiid of trash talking

Joel Embiid is the Joel Embiid of trash talking

Joel Embiid was back in the gym on Wednesday afternoon after enjoying his All-Star break down in New Orleans and appears like he's ready to get back out on the court this weekend.

“I hope that they’re going let me play,” Embiid said after practice on Wednesday. “I feel great. I want to play. If it was my decision, I’d be playing.”

The team doctor's aren't so sure. Joel is currently listed as doubtful for both of the Sixers games this weekend.

But that didn't stop JoJo from talking some smack with one of his favorite teammates, Dario Saric, while battling in a little one-on-one after practice.

Embiid was seen by reporters using some colorful language directed in Saric's direction, screaming "you can't ****-ing guard me!" while the two went at it.

The chatter didn't stop there. Embiid was later asked about the one-on-one and unleashed a little more on Dario.

"He don't like playing me," Embiid said. "He never wins and he doesn't handle me talking trash to him. I would love to play against him all the time because that gives me a lot of confidence beating him every day."

"It's fun playing against him. We both like to compete."

"That's my guy," he added.

And Sixers fans love them both. Let's just hope to see more of them teaming up in actual games soon.

Sixers look forward to results of Ben Simmons' CT scan Thursday

Sixers look forward to results of Ben Simmons' CT scan Thursday

CAMDEN, N.J. — Thursday is significant for the Sixers beyond the trade deadline. It is also the day of Ben Simmons' CT scan to evaluate how his right foot is healing.

"I feel like tomorrow at some point we're all going to be able to lay out a more genuine plan for him," Brett Brown said Wednesday. "I feel like we're going to be good to go with some greater news and a more advanced detail of his plans after this scan."

Once all parties involved assess the results, the team will provide an update, which may not be Thursday. Simmons has been sidelined all season after suffering a Jones fracture during the final scrimmage of training camp. 

On Wednesday, he went through his individual workout plan, which included five-on-none scripting with teammates.

"He's still getting a feel for all of us," Nerlens Noel said. "He's learning to throw it up to me, bounce pass to whoever. It's learning certain tendencies that'll make you start to feel more a part of the team."

The Sixers have not placed a timetable on Simmons' return. The first overall pick has not been cleared for full contact five-on-five practice, the next step in his recovery. Prior to the All-Star break, Brown said he expects Simmons will play at some point this season. He stands by that projection with 26 games remaining. 

"I personally would like to see him play this season. I don't backpedal from that," Brown said. "I think my comments are really very much influenced by his reciprocal desire to play this year, which we all respect. Everybody's got clandestine conspiracy theories on why he might not want to play. I know in my heart and speaking to him, he wants to get on a court and play basketball again.

"I hope he can do that, too. If for some reason he can't, we'll deal with it. But I think it would help him to play NBA basketball and get his competitive juices going again if the doctors point us in that direction."

Simmons' teammates are ready to welcome him into the mix when he is given the green light. Their limited glimpses into his talent have them eager for his debut.

"Unlimited potential," Noel said. "I think with Ben, the thing that makes him so special is his IQ for the game, a sixth sense on the court. Him being able to find little things that not very many 6-10 guys can find. I think that's going to propel his game and make him a special player in this league." 

Added Joel Embiid: "I'm excited ... I thought he was our best player in training camp."