Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid shut down by Warriors in Sixers' loss

Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid shut down by Warriors in Sixers' loss


OAKLAND, Calif. — The Warriors didn’t just limit one of the Sixers' top offensive options. They limited the top two.

Joel Embiid (12) and Ben Simmons (13) combined for 25 points Saturday night against the Warriors in the Sixers' 135-114 loss at Oracle Arena (see observations). Both scored their second-lowest totals of the season, dating back to the second game against the Celtics.

“I give Golden State credit on how they guarded those two players,” Brett Brown said. “Our two best players.”

The Warriors cracked down on defense early in the game. They held Embiid and Simmons scoreless in the first quarter, shooting a combined 0 for 6 from the field. Just as the Warriors had to game plan against this duo for the first time, Embiid and Simmons were getting their first look at the defending world champions. 

Brown noticed Draymond Green sagging off Simmons, in a way challenging him to shoot from mid-range. Simmons’ four missed shots in the first quarter were from seven, 12, 13 and 14 feet from the basket. He shot 6 for 17 from the field in 29 minutes. 

“In the first quarter, I was just trying to figure out how they were playing me,” said Simmons, who had 13 points, five rebounds and eight assists. “They were playing back. I was trying to see what they would do with their picks and they played me well.” 

Before the game head coach, Steve Kerr said they were focused on keeping Simmons out of transition and making him score over the top instead of driving the basket, where he has been effective all season. Simmons felt that strategy work.

"I think they did a good job of that, loading the paint,” Simmons said. “I think I could have been more aggressive and attacked more.”

The Warriors had a different approach for Embiid. They swarmed him with double teams, which have been leading to turnovers. Embiid had only one turnover in the first quarter (a bad pass) but ended up with seven on the night. He shot 4 for 11 from the field and pulled down seven rebounds over 25 minutes.

“They double-teamed me a lot, from Ben’s man every time I sprung baseline so it kind of threw me off,” Embiid said. “They were kind of mixing it up.”

The Sixers have been able to count on Embiid and Simmons to drive their offense. They still are enigmas to many teams who are challenged with strategizing for these versatile players without seeing them live. Brown expects their opponents to make adjustments. 

“I think over time, soon, the league will settle in and determine sort of a template, a blueprint of how they think,” Brown said. “Everybody’s still learning about Ben and Joel. We’ll react. We’ll move forward and try to figure stuff out better to help them, to help the team.”

Their teammates know they have to step up when Embiid or Simmons are having an off-night on the scoreboard.

"We've got to make it easier for them because you know how teams are going to guard them," Robert Covington said. "We've got to put them in better situations." 

NBA admits mistake that leaves Sixers scratching their heads

AP Images

NBA admits mistake that leaves Sixers scratching their heads

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers were right.

The Sixers argued they should have set up at halfcourt, not fullcourt, for a decisive final possession of double overtime in Friday’s game against the Thunder. After a closer look following their triple-overtime loss, the NBA ruled the Sixers were proved correct. 

“After review, it was determined that the 76ers called timeout with 00:01.2 remaining on the game clock, which was prior to Saric's (PHI) dribble. Therefore, they should have been given the opportunity to advance the ball into their own frontcourt for the inbound,” the NBA Officiating’s Last Two Minute Report noted.

The confusion occurred at the end of the second overtime. Dario Saric got a defensive rebound and the Sixers called a timeout before he dribbled the ball. Because of this, the Sixers should have been allowed to set up a final play in the halfcourt, which is exactly what they had practiced and called.

But the referees made a last-second change as the Sixers were setting up. The Sixers were told they had to inbound from fullcourt, which would have been the case if Saric had dribbled before the timeout. The Last Two Minute Report indicated he, in fact, did not. 

“Respect that they are that transparent, but complete disappointment that it can happen,” Brett Brown said Sunday. “You really scratch your head. It’s significant.”

Every play, every basket can make a difference for a team fighting to make the playoffs. The Sixers were confident they could have won the game with the halfcourt play. Instead, they dropped back down to .500 and currently 10 in the Eastern Conference.

“Those things you need to avoid to give yourself every chance to win,” Brown said. “We can point to many other things that were self-inflicted wounds that we’ve got to do better. But when it’s that exposed and that prominent of an environment with 1.2 seconds left, it’s disappointing. But like I say, they’re transparent. I respect the fact they admitted it and we move on.”

Joel Embiid out Monday against Bulls; 2 other Sixers sidelined

Joel Embiid out Monday against Bulls; 2 other Sixers sidelined

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid does not play both games of a back-to-back, but whether he plays in either of the Sixers' next two matchups will have to be determined.

Embiid is not traveling with the Sixers to Chicago for Monday’s game against the suddenly-streaking Bulls, who have won five straight. The big man usually plays at home in these scenarios, and considering he played 49 minutes in Friday’s triple-overtime loss, the decision was expected.

Embiid’s availability for Tuesday at home against the Kings, though, has not been finalized at this point. This is not surprising either being two days ahead of the game. Embiid, who has been dealing with back tightness, did not participate in practice Sunday. The Sixers will evaluate, monitor, and go through treatment with Embiid before making their call.

“Unsure at this stage,” Brett Brown said Sunday. “I do know he’s categorically out tomorrow and we’re going to learn more about him being available when we come back [for] Sacramento, I’d expect in the next 24 hours.”

The Sixers do know they will be without another two players for some time.

Trevor Booker will miss at least the next two games after suffering spraining his left ankle Friday. The newly acquired reserve will be reevaluated in approximately five-to-seven days.

Even though Booker was traded to the Sixers less than two weeks ago, he already made an impact on the second unit. Brown has seen enough over the last four games to know what the team will be missing.

“His toughness,” Brown said. “He’s got a motor. He plays with such a spirit. He’s a man. He’s a pro. He’s been in the league for a while. He gets it. It’s everything that you miss. It’s really everything this team needs.”

Furkan Korkmaz likely will be sidelined even longer. The rookie suffered a Lisfranc injury on his left foot while playing for the Delaware 87ers on Dec. 15 and is out indefinitely. The Sixers recalled Korkmaz from the G League and he is going through evaluation and testing. There is no timetable set for Korkmaz at this point.  

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons described the injury as, “Lisfranc (midfoot) injuries result if bones in the midfoot are broken or ligaments that support the midfoot are torn. The severity of the injury can vary from simple to complex, involving many joints and bones in the midfoot.”

Korkmaz has been going back and forth between the Sixers and their G League affiliate in Delaware to get playing opportunities as part of his development in his first NBA season.