76ers

See Embiid's reaction to All-Star vote love

See Embiid's reaction to All-Star vote love

Over 400,000 fans already have cast votes for Joel Embiid to make it to the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, a number that caught the Sixers big man a little off guard.

“I have a pretty good chance,” Embiid said Friday. “I was actually pretty surprised. Last year at this time I don’t think I had that many votes.”

Embiid ranks third in the Eastern Conference frontcourt with 433,161 votes already. Only leading vote-getter Giannis Antetokounmpo (863,416) and LeBron James (856,080) are ahead of him in that category. 

Fan voting makes up 50 percent of the total votes. Current NBA players and a group of media members will vote on three frontcourt players and two guards from each conference to account for the other 50 percent. 

Last season, Embiid finished third in frontcourt fan voting, eighth among players and fifth among the media. 

Embiid is once again dominating the numbers on the stat lines. He's averaging 23.8 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. 

“It just shows you how hard I’ve been working and the support that the fans and the faith that they have in me, I really appreciate that,” Embiid said. “I can’t wait to keep on going.” 

Unlike last season, the Sixers are in much better standing (19-19). The impact of his presence is glaring. Embiid isn’t losing sight of the bigger goal at hand. 

“At the end of the day, it’s all about the wins,” Embiid said. “If I make the All-Star Games, good. But I want to win. I want to be in the playoffs.” 

Former Sixers guard named HOF finalist

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USA Today Images

Former Sixers guard named HOF finalist

Former Sixers player and head coach Maurice Cheeks on Saturday was named a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Other candidates include Grant Hill, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and former Sixer Chris Webber.

Cheeks, a four-time All-Star point guard and member of the 1982-83 championship team, spent 10 seasons with the Sixers before stints with the San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks and New Jersey Nets. He averaged 12.2 points, 7.3 assists and 2.3 steals a night in 853 career games. Cheeks ranks in the top-five in NBA history in both assists (7,392) and steals (2,310). He was also voted to the NBA All-Defensive team five times.

Currently an assistant with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Cheeks was the Sixers' head coach from 2005-2008, but was fired after a slow start to the 2008-09 season. He was also the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers and Detroit Pistons. He has a 305-315 career record and has made the postseason three times in nine seasons.

Sixers show they're ready to take over the world

Sixers show they're ready to take over the world

LOS ANGELES — The Sixers made their mark among the NBA’s top young talent on a global scale.

Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Ben Simmons (Australia) and Dario Saric (Croatia) all started for Team World Friday in the Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars game. They helped kick off All-Star weekend with a 155-124 victory over Team USA. 

Simmons recorded a double-double, which is becoming clockwork for the point guard (22 in the regular season, six triple-doubles). He posted 11 points off a perfect 5 for 5 from the field and 1 for 1 from the line. Simmons added 13 assists, six boards and four steals. 

This game was, in a way, a double statement for Simmons. It was an an opportunity to make a case for Rookie of the Year, with fellow contender Donovan Mitchell competing on Team USA. Mitchell notched seven points (3 for 10 from the field, 1 for 6 from three), seven assists, two rebounds, five steals and two blocks.

The Rising Stars contest also was a chance for Simmons to start an early bid for the 2019 All-Star team. He was popular among the fan votes but was not selected as one of four replacements required because of injuries. 

Simmons projects he will be playing in the All-Star Game “hopefully next year.” When it came down to why he was not on this season’s list, Simmons replied, “I think just votes.” 

Saric continued his offensive momentum with 18 points, including 4 for 7 shooting from three. He has scored in double digits in his last 35 games leading into the All-Star break. Saric also grabbed three rebounds and dished five assists. 

“I’ve always got the wish or dream in my life one day to be part of something big like this, even if it’s the Rising Stars game,” Saric said of participating in All-Star weekend. “I think it makes my family proud, my friends from my hometown, or all the people who were around me during my [growth as] a basketball player.”

Embiid logged the least playing time of the Sixers’ trio as he prepares to compete in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge Saturday and start in the All-Star Game Sunday. He missed the Sixers’ last game on Wednesday because of right ankle soreness. Embiid scored five points and two rebounds in less than nine minutes. 

“On Sunday, I expect to go harder,” Embiid said (see story). “I’m going for that MVP. Guys better make sure they find me because I’m looking to have a good game.”

Not listed on the box score: Embiid and Simmons going 2 for 2 as roving reporters. Check out their journalistic skills when they got the mic Friday to interview each other (see video).