76ers

NBA Notes: Cavaliers trade Kyrie Irving to Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, more in blockbuster

NBA Notes: Cavaliers trade Kyrie Irving to Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, more in blockbuster

CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving was tired of being teammates with LeBron James.

Now he has to figure out how to beat him.

Cleveland's All-Star guard, who asked owner Dan Gilbert to trade him earlier this summer, was dealt Tuesday night to the Boston Celtics for fellow All-Star Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets' unprotected 2018 first-round draft pick.

"It's extremely rare to trade for a 25-year-old player that's done what he's done, the offensive weapon that he is," Celtics president Danny Ainge said. "We feel like his best basketball is still ahead of him.

"We have a player that's proven to be a sure thing. We know how unpredictable the draft can be. You do pay a heavy price for a player of that age and that caliber."

Irving, whose late 3-pointer helped Cleveland win the 2016 NBA championship -- and the city's first title since 1964 -- is on his way to Boston, where he'll join a Celtics team that lost to the Cavs in last season's conference finals.

And as fate will have it, the Cavs will host the Celtics in their season opener on Oct. 17.

"Of course we know who our competition is, and we know who are biggest threats are each year," Ainge said. "But we feel like this is a trade that can make us better, and that's why we did it" (see full story).

Pacers: Poythress signed to 2-way contract
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Pacers have signed forward Alex Poythress to a two-way contract.

Poythress spent most of last season playing for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the NBA's G-League, where he averaged 18.5 points and 7.1 rebounds in 46 games.

The 6-foot-7, 238-pound former Kentucky player joined the 76ers on April 1. He averaged 10.7 points and 4.8 rebounds in six games with Philadelphia.

The Pacers signed Poythress on Tuesday.

Sixers have already embraced key aspects of NBA postseason

Sixers have already embraced key aspects of NBA postseason

Perhaps the Sixers have been underestimated a bit.

Outside of Joel Embiid’s health, all of the chatter going into the playoffs was about how the relatively inexperienced roster would handle the big stage. 

Sure, the team has a crop of veterans that have been there and done that. However, young impact players such as Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric were all getting their first taste of the postseason.

So how are they feeling about it to this point?

“I love it,” Embiid said at Friday’s practice. “I live for these moments. I thrive in this type of atmosphere. I think I was built for this, especially playoff basketball.”

Embiid appears particularly fond of the postseason in environments where the Sixers are short on support.

After missing the first two games of the series in Philadelphia while still recovering from orbital fracture surgery, Embiid stepped back into the starting lineup on the road in Miami.

Was getting barked at by rowdy fans in hostile territory going to be a problem? Not for the villain now known as “The Phantom of the Process.”

“I actually think I play better on the road because I just love the atmosphere,” Embiid said. “I just love looking around the arena, people booing, people going against us. That just takes my game to another level.”

The Sixers’ performance isn’t the only thing that has been taken up a notch. Their intensity level and physicality have jumped in this first-round matchup with the bruising Heat.

“I said it before, I wish it was like this all season,” said Simmons, who is averaging 20.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 9.7 assists per game in the series. “I’m enjoying it. It’s very competitive and that’s the type of basketball I want to play.”

“It’s basketball. It’s fun,” Justin Anderson said. “Playing like that is fun. Every possession matters. You can tell there’s not a lot of empty possessions. Guys are getting shots up on every possession.

“… It’s intensified. It’s just basketball. It’s the best basketball in the world, and we’re putting ourselves in a position to hopefully go and get another one in Game 4.”

Heat's Justise Winslow fined $15K for stepping on Joel Embiid's mask

Heat's Justise Winslow fined $15K for stepping on Joel Embiid's mask

The NBA dished out some swift justice on Friday night.

Heat swingman Justise Winslow was fined $15,000 by the league for unsportsmanlike conduct after intentionally stepping on and attempting to damage Joel Embiid’s mask during the Sixers’ Game 3 win in Miami (see story).

With 7:51 remaining in the second quarter, the goggles portion of Embiid’s mask fell onto the court. Winslow stepped on the goggles with his left foot before picking them up and trying to break them with his hands.

“He kept throwing it on the ground, so I don’t know if he didn’t like it or what,” Winslow said. “But I was talking to JoJo, we were smack talking, trash talking, going back and forth. No love lost.”

The incident definitely didn’t stop Embiid in his postseason debut. The big man returned from orbital surgery to put up 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks in the Sixers’ 128-108 victory.

“Justise stepped on it and tried to break it with his hands,” Embiid said. “But little do they know is that I have about 50 of them. So it’s going to take much more than that to get me out of the series. 

“I’m going to be a nightmare for them, too.”