76ers

How are Sixers impacted by Cavaliers-Celtics blockbuster trade?

How are Sixers impacted by Cavaliers-Celtics blockbuster trade?

The Celtics and Cavaliers pulled off a blockbuster trade to swap point guards Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas (among other pieces), a deal that still positions both teams at the top of the Eastern Conference (see story)

So what does it mean for the Sixers?

In the short term, probably not much. The Celtics and Cavs are likely to finish first and second in the East and contend for a shot at the NBA Finals in the upcoming season. If the Sixers make the playoffs (a very realistic possibility if everyone stays healthy), both teams would be daunting opponents to upset.

The following season, though, is when things could get interesting. The Cavaliers will have two huge questions to address next summer and how they answer them will affect the rest of the East.

Thomas is entering the final year of his contract. He has said he believes he should garner a max deal. Will the Cavs pay up for Thomas, who will be 29 years old then, is currently coming off a hip injury and bases his game on speed and athleticism? Or will his time in Cleveland be brief? 

Then there’s LeBron James and his player option for the 2018-19 season. There’s no certainty James will remain in Cleveland after a rocky summer with front-office changes and a changing landscape of competition around the league. If the Cavs can’t get past the Celtics — or any other team for that matter — will he stay or seek a title elsewhere?

If the Cavs were to lose one or both players next offseason, that could open up the Eastern Conference and create an opportunity for teams on the rise, like the Sixers, to move up in the standings. 

The Sixers have maintained a measured, strategic approach to reconstructing the roster and stayed away from rushing into lengthy contracts just for the sake of spending cap space. An ideal situation for the Sixers is to be on an upward trend while others currently ahead of them are on the decline or rebuilding.

The Cavaliers also received a highly-coveted asset in the 2018 unprotected Nets pick from the Celtics, which actually could end up being the most valuable piece in this trade. Even if Thomas were to decide to sign with another team, the Cavs still could draft a top prospect to build with for the future. Or, they could include the pick in a trade and depending where it goes could impact the East or the West. 

Even though the Celtics parted ways with the Nets’ pick, they still have the 2018 protected Lakers’ pick they acquired from the Sixers in June as part of the trade up to No. 1 in the draft for Markelle Fultz. 

For years, moves among playoff teams in the East didn't have much of an impact on the Sixers. Now as they enter a new phase with a foundation in place to be competitive, a trade between the Celtics and the Cavaliers could affect their position in the standings in the future. 

Sixers-Timberwolves observations: Salvaging the road trip

Sixers-Timberwolves observations: Salvaging the road trip

BOX SCORE

MINNEAPOLIS — Joel Embiid scored 28 in his return, and JJ Redick added 26 points as the 76ers defeated Minnesota, 118-112, in overtime on Tuesday.

Embiid, who missed the Sixers’ last two games with back tightness, tied the game with a pair of free throws with 14 seconds remaining in regulation. He finished the night 11 for 12 from the free throw line and 8 for 16 from the field, a stat line that included a three-pointer with 1:39 remaining in overtime.

The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Sixers (14-13), who had struggled in the fourth quarter in their recent losses. The team trailed, 86-77, with six minutes remaining in regulation Tuesday but went on a 14-4 run that culminated with Richaun Holmes' three-point play with 2:17 to go.

Holmes finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds as he played 33 minutes while filling in for the injured Robert Covington. Dario Saric added 14 points and eight rebounds in 40 minutes.

• Embiid appeared comfortable throughout the night, moving past Minnesota defenders for dunks on several plays while guarding Karl-Anthony Towns and Gorgui Dieng. He fell in pain late in the third quarter under the Sixers' basket but returned early in the fourth and played a total of 39 minutes, a new career high. He also nearly had a triple-double by adding 12 rebounds and eight assists. 

• Backup point guard T.J. McConnell also returned for the Sixers after missing five of the past six games with a shoulder injury. He made his first three shots and also didn't appear to have trouble with movement as he finished with seven points in 26 minutes.

• Redick was just 6 for 15 shooting but scored 16 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. 

• Ben Simmons was also surprising quiet for most of the night. He went most of regulation without a point as Minnesota's Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins guarded him. But Simmons scored seven points in the game's final 6:17, including two baskets in the final 1:17 and also added eight assists.

• The 76ers struggled with turnovers throughout regulation but committed just one in overtime. They still finished with a season-high 25, many coming on errant cross-floor passes.

• The team mitigated the turnovers by limiting Minnesota to just 41.7 percent shooting in regulation, including just 3 for 24 from three-point range. Butler was the Timberwolves' most effective scorer as he finished with a game-high 35 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter. However, the Timberwolves were 4 for 12 shooting in overtime.

• The Sixers limited Minnesota's ability to drive to the basket throughout the night as they forced the Timberwolves to take lower-percentage two-pointers. The Timberwolves (16-12) had just two turnovers in the first half but finished the game with 10. Wiggins scored 20  and Towns added 17 for Minnesota.

• Veteran forward Trevor Booker scored 12 points on 6 for 8 shooting in his third game with the Sixers since joining the team in last week’s trade with Brooklyn.

Best of NBA: Mavericks spoil Kawhi Leonard's season debut

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Best of NBA: Mavericks spoil Kawhi Leonard's season debut

DALLAS -- J.J. Barea scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half and the Dallas Mavericks spoiled the season debut of San Antonio star Kawhi Leonard, beating the Spurs 95-89 on Tuesday night.

Leonard missed the first 27 games because of right quadriceps tendinopathy, a condition that causes pain and weakness in the knee. He wasn't around in the fourth quarter when Barea finished a rally that he started by scoring eight points in the final 1:49 of the third.

Harrison Barnes scored 17 points while Yogi Ferrell and Wesley Mathews had 16 apiece as the Mavericks ended a five-game losing streak at home to the Spurs, who had a four-game winning streak stopped for the third time this season.

Barea led the Mavericks with six assists, teaming up with alley-oop dunk partner Dwight Powell a couple of times as Powell finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 23 points and 13 rebounds and Rudy Gay scored 21 for the Spurs, who shot 29 percent while getting outscored 28-20 in the fourth quarter.

Leonard, who had 13 points, went to the locker room late in the third quarter, with no immediate word on whether he had hit the unspecified minutes restriction coach Gregg Popovich said would be in place. He played 16 minutes, roughly the first 5 minutes in each of the first three quarters (see full recap).
    
LeBron racks up 17 assists against lowly Hawks
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James had 25 points and tied a career-high with 17 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Atlanta Hawks 123-114 on Tuesday night.

James was 11 of 13 from the field, had seven rebounds and was given a standing ovation when he was removed from the game with 2:34 remaining .

Cleveland won for the 15th time in 16 games. The Cavaliers hit a season-high 20 3-pointers, including nine in the first quarter. Cleveland had a season-high 35 assists.

Kyle Korver had 19 points, including six 3-pointers. Kevin Love, returning after missing a game with a hip injury, scored 17 points, all in the first half. Love had 11 points in the first quarter after sitting out Saturday's game against Philadelphia. He had 12 rebounds.

Atlanta fell to 6-21, the worst record in the league. Taurean Prince scored 24 points while Kent Bazemore had 20 (see full recap).

Porzingis, Beasley lead Knicks to OT victory
NEW YORK -- Kristaps Porzingis had 37 points and 11 rebounds, Michael Beasley made the biggest plays in overtime, and the New York Knicks beat the Los Angeles Lakers 113-109 on Tuesday night.

Beasley had 13 points, including the tiebreaking follow shot, and an assist in the extra period as the Knicks went back over .500 at 14-13. Thirteen of their victories have come at Madison Square Garden.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 24 points for the Lakers, who had won two in a row on their trip. Rookie Kyle Kuzma added 19 points off the bench.

Lonzo Ball had 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists, with a dazzling third-quarter stretch that had father LaVar celebrating wildly from his courtside seat next to Lithuania-bound sons LiAngelo and LaMelo. But Lonzo was quiet after that period beyond two free throws early in OT.

The Knicks essentially won it with Beasley's flurry of a tip-in, a pass inside to Doug McDermott for a basket, and a driving layup that turned at 103-all game into a 109-103 lead with 1:24 remaining in the overtime (see full recap).