Sixers officially sign Marco Belinelli

Sixers officially sign Marco Belinelli

Brett Brown has watched 107 different players check into a game for him as head coach of the Sixers.

One more newcomer can’t hurt.

The Sixers are hoping for a boost to their bench after officially signing veteran guard Marco Belinelli on Monday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Belinelli cleared waivers after reaching a buyout agreement with the Atlanta Hawks on Friday over the $6.6 million he was owed in the final year of his contract. He will wear No. 18 and be available for tonight's game against the Knicks, but Brown said pregame that he does not plan to use him.

So, why the Sixers for Belinelli?

"Because I trust the process," he said Monday. "I think I was lucky to watch a couple games of other teams, Philly, too. I think [the Sixers] play really well, play together on offense and defense. I really trust this kind of thing. Opportunity to help this team make a run for the playoffs. It’s going to be good for me, so I’m really happy."

The 11th-year veteran averaged 11.4 points per game on 41.1 percent shooting from the field and 37.2 percent from three-point range with the Hawks this season. For his career, Belinelli has averaged 9.8 points a night.

Those numbers may not seem eye-popping, but they will be a welcomed sight for a Sixers team that didn’t make a move at last week’s trade deadline. That’s because the Sixers’ reserves rank near the bottom of the NBA in several offensive categories, including points per game (26th), field goals made (26th), three-pointers made (29th) and three-point percentage (29th).

"It can help a lot. We can have another shooter coming off of that unit to allow us to space the floor even more than what we already do," Robert Covington said Monday. "With the rotations, teams have got to sit up here and play us just as hard as they've got to play the first unit. Can't really sit back and kind of sag the way a lot of teams do at times. Now with Marco, he's going to space the floor and then it's just like another JJ (Redick). Teams are going to run him offline and then it's going to help put them in scramble mode."

Sixers look like a playoff team in win over Timberwolves

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Sixers look like a playoff team in win over Timberwolves


The Timberwolves were an anomaly in a recent stretch of sub-.500 opponents for the Sixers — a playoff contender holding their own without Jimmy Butler in the tough Western Conference.

The Sixers took care of business, 120-108, but it wasn’t without a hitch in the final quarter.

The Sixers had a 98-71 lead after three, a big enough gap for Brett Brown to comfortably sit his starters in the fourth. Well, it should have been a big enough lead. The Timberwolves cut that deficit to 10 points, and Brown turned back to Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova to quiet the Timberwolves’ push.

This was a less-than-ideal situation as the Sixers are looking for ways to rest their high-minutes players, particularly Embiid, who had only clocked 22 minutes through three quarters. In total, Embiid and Simmons played less than two minutes apiece in the fourth, but the reserves have to take better control of leads so the starters don’t have to return at all.

The Sixers improved to 42-30. They have to wait for the Pistons-Bulls matchup to learn if they clinched a playoff spot, which will happen if the Pistons lose.

• Simmons needed less than three quarters to record his 10th triple-double of the season: 15 points, 12 rebounds, 13 assists.

• Joel Embiid was having a good time out there on his way to 19 points, six rebounds and three blocks.

• Led by those 13 assists from Simmons, the Sixers dished a total of 33 dimes. Their five-straight games of 30-plus assists are their longest such stretch since December 1981. With assists, turnovers can be just as significant. The Sixers committed 14, equal to the Timberwolves, but gave up only 13 points compared to the Timberwolves’ 22.

• The Eagles continue to show their support for the Sixers:

How Sixers can clinch a playoff spot

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How Sixers can clinch a playoff spot

The Sixers could lock in a playoff spot Saturday night, but their postseason berth does not hinge on whether or not they beat the visiting Timberwolves.

The 41-30 Sixers would clinch if the 32-40 Pistons lose to the 24-48 Bulls. This is a meeting of two struggling teams, both who are 3-7 in their last 10 games and the Bulls are on a four-game losing skid.

The Sixers will have to wait for the results, though. The Pistons and Bulls tip off one hour after the Sixers, who have an early 6 p.m. game.

The Sixers' goal of making the playoffs would not stop with clinching a berth. They have their eyes set on homecourt advantage, a battle that could come down to the final games.

The Sixers currently sit in the fourth spot in a heated competition with the Pacers and Wizards. Keep an eye on how John Wall's health (knee) impacts this race. He practiced five-on-five Saturday.