76ers

Joel Embiid, Robert Covington, T.J. McConnell questionable

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Joel Embiid, Robert Covington, T.J. McConnell questionable

Updated: 2:10 p.m.

The Sixers might get some reinforcements back to help try to halt their losing streak.

Joel Embiid, Robert Covington and T.J. McConnell are listed as questionable tonight in Minnesota (9:30 p.m./NBCSP+).

Embiid (back tightness) sat out Saturday night’s loss because of load management and then was a last-minute scratch against the Pelicans Sunday. Covington (lower back contusion), who was injured diving into the stands for a loose ball against the Cavs Saturday, also missed Sunday night’s loss. McConnell suffered a sprained AC joint in the Sixers’ win over the Wizards back on Nov. 29. He came back and played 18 minutes in the team’s loss to the Lakers, but then missed the first two games of the road trip in Cleveland and New Orleans.

Embiid’s injury is not believed to be serious. The big man himself didn’t seem too concerned.

“If it was the Finals, I'm sure I could have gone,” Embiid said Sunday. “But we've got 82 games and they don't want me to push if I'm not a hundred percent, so that's what I did.”

The Sixers will look to snap a four-game losing streak — their longest of the season — against the reloaded Timberwolves (16-11). 

Dwyane Wade has nothing but praise for student Ben Simmons

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Dwyane Wade has nothing but praise for student Ben Simmons

MIAMI — Ben Simmons’ relationship with LeBron James through their agency is well known.

Along the way, Simmons has learned from another superstar veteran. He just happens to be Simmons’ first playoff opponent, too.

Dwyane Wade remembers a quiet Simmons watching workouts with him and James before Simmons was making his mark in the NBA. The teenager observed the ways the future Hall of Famers prepared for their time on the court and how much effort they put in while on it. He stored it in his memory bank to later implement it into his game.

“You could see the way he looked at guys like ourselves and how we worked,” Wade said. “He was taking notes, mental notes. To see him a few years later and see where he is in his game and the effect on a state and a city with his ability to play the game of basketball on such a high level, it’s impressive.”

Good day of work!

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Simmons watched Wade while he was growing up. A student of NBA guards, he saw Wade win three championships before he reached college at LSU. Since Simmons’ father had a sponsorship with Converse while playing pro, he also wore Wade’s sneakers.

“I’ve always looked at him as one of those guys you try to model your game after and learn things from,” Simmons said.  

Wade’s longevity in the league has allowed younger players to catch up to the 15-year veteran and compete on the same stage. Wade had a vintage performance in Game 2 when he scored 28 points in the Heat’s win.

Simmons is averaging a consistent 20 points, 10 rebounds, 9.7 assists and 2.0 steals in the series. He joined Oscar Robertson as the only two players with at least 60 points, 25 rebounds and 25 assists through their first three postseason games.

“To see where he is now, he’s not just a Rookie of the Year candidate,” Wade said. “He’s a very good basketball player. We have our work cut out for us every night because of what he brings to the table.”

Simmons remained his usual calm, competitive self after hearing of Wade's high praise. He doesn't want to just know the best in the NBA, he wants to be one of the best.

“I want to whoop him,” Simmons said with a laugh, his team up in the series 2-1. “He knows that too. It’s definitely a compliment. It means a lot, especially coming from him, somebody who’s been there and won championships. But that’s not my focus right now. I want to win.”

Rob's Rants — Heat are now most hated NBA team

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Rob's Rants — Heat are now most hated NBA team

The reasons were all on full display Thursday in Miami. From the Justise Winslow’s goggles stomp, to Dwyane Wade’s take-down of Justin Anderson, to Goran Dragic’s flexing, to Kelly Olynyk’s cheap shots and man-bun, to Hassan Whiteside’s laughable belief that he is even in the same league as Joel Embiid, the Miami Heat have vaulted to the top of my current NBA hate list.

That spot had been reserved by the Boston Celtics since I was a kid. Red Auerbach, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, cheap-shot artist, Danny Ainge, and that towel-waving weasel, M.L. Carr, were an easy team to despise. Not to mention the arrogance of their fanbase. They were the Sixers' chief rival in those days. The difference with those Celtics squads and the Heat is, those Boston teams were great. This Miami team because of their lack of talent must play a physical, often cheap, dirty style. 

But the beauty of Game 3 of this first-round series was the Sixers beat them at their own physical game. Thanks in large part to the return of the masked man, Joel Embiid. 

Let’s start with Winslow purposely attempting to break Embiid’s goggles that popped off of his facial mask. The ref was standing right there; how that is not a technical at the very least is beyond comprehension. Then there’s Wade, a future Hall of Famer, no doubt. But a bigger whiner you won’t find and that is saying something in the NBA. Wade cries more than an infant teething. He should have been ejected or issued at the very least the only technical for his tangle with Anderson. The double technical was a classic case of pedigreed player vs. a deep guy.  

Olynyk is a complete hack and in the vein of Wade, never thinks he commits a foul. Whiteside is no match for Embiid. He can only play one end and when Embiid is on the floor it’s clear he can’t even handle him on that one end.

It was thoroughly enjoyable to watch the Sixers silence the faux Miami crowd that is more interested in showing up overpriced, garish clothes and being seen than what is happening on the hardwood.       

It won’t be easy by any stretch but here’s hoping the Sixers can send this bunch packing in five. If Embiid stays healthy, the Sixers advance but between then and now, expect much of the same tactics from Miami. And another layer to the Heat hate.