76ers

Potential Sixers target Malik Monk highly praised by former teammate De'Aaron Fox

Potential Sixers target Malik Monk highly praised by former teammate De'Aaron Fox

CHICAGO -- De’Aaron Fox isn’t the only Kentucky Wildcat who could be on the Sixers’ radar in the first round.

Shooting guard Malik Monk is also a projected high lottery pick. Monk did not attend the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago this week. Fox did, though, and spoke of his former teammate’s NBA potential.

“First, don’t let him get hot,” Fox said. “If he gets hot, it’s over. [He’s] extremely athletic.”

Finding shooters is on the Sixers’ to-do list this summer. They ranked 27th overall in field goal shooting (44.2 percent) and tied with the Bulls for 24th in three-point shooting (34.0 percent). Two guards Nik Stauskas and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot are under contract for next season. Gerald Henderson’s deal is non-guaranteed. 

Monk averaged 19.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists in his lone season at Kentucky. He shot 45.0 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from long range. Monk scored over 20 points in a half six times last season and set the mark for most field goals made by a freshman (251) in Wildcats’ history. 

Monk was named SEC Freshman of the Year, AP Newcomer of the Year and the winner of the Jerry West Award for the nation’s top shooting guard, among numerous other accolades. 

One of the critiques against Monk is his height. Last season, he measured in at 6-foot-3 with a wingspan of 6-3-and-a-half. Fox believes Monk will play beyond his size in the NBA. 

“One guy I always use is (Celtics guard) Avery Bradley,” Fox said. “He locks down twos. I don’t think Malik will have a problem with playing the two or playing off ball. He can play on ball, but he’s probably best off the ball.”

The Sixers will learn where they are drafting in the first round at the lottery Tuesday. They have a 14.7 percent chance to land the No. 1 pick, between their own pick (11.9 percent) and rights to swap with the Kings (2.8 percent). The Sixers also will receive the Lakers’ pick if it falls out of the top three.

Sixers blitz Heat in 2nd half of Game 5 win to advance

Sixers blitz Heat in 2nd half of Game 5 win to advance

BOX SCORE

What a night at the Wells Fargo Center. 

The Sixers are moving on to the second round, eliminating the Heat with a 104-91 Game 5 victory on their home court Tuesday. 

They will face the winner of the series between the No. 2 Celtics and No. 7 Bucks. The Celtics lead, 3-2. Sixers fans chanted “We Want Boston” in the fourth quarter. 

• With Meek Mill and Kevin Hart sitting courtside (see story), the Sixers took over the game in the third quarter and fended off a late Heat run. The teams were tied, 46-46, at halftime before the Sixers outscored the Heat 34-20 over the next 12 minutes. The Heat wouldn’t go away, though. They went on a 10-0 run and cut the Sixers’ lead to eight with just under six minutes to play, plenty of time for more physical basketball. James Johnson was called for a technical with 5:24 to go on a rough play against Marco Belinelli.

• Joel Embiid’s first playoff home game went just about as you would have thought: a 19-point, 12-rebound double-double. Embiid had a strong 8-for-14 shooting performance after struggling to go a combined 7 for 22 in his first two games back. The Sixers will have time before the next round for Embiid to continue to get adjusted to wearing his mask. 

• The Heat did not go easy on Ben Simmons. Early in the game, a running Josh Richardson took out Simmons by the legs as they intersected while Simmons drove the basket. Simmons tumbled and instantly bounced back up. In the third quarter, Goran Dragic swiped Simmons in the head and was called for a technical. Simmons shook all of it off, finishing with 14 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. 

• Eagles owner Jeff Lurie, Eagles running back Corey Clement, boxer Bernard Hopkins and former Sixer Nik Stauskas were among those in attendance. The game had the crowd on its feet, just watch the video below to see. 

• JJ Redick shot a perfect 10 for 10 from the line en route to a game-high 27 points. He was the only player to surpass 20 points. Kelly Olynyk led the Heat with 18 points off the bench. 

• The Sixers turned around that turnover problem from Game 4. They committed 15, compared to 27 on Saturday. Their three-point struggles continued (7 for 28), but they made up for them by outscoring the Heat, 46-40, in the paint. 

• Sixers fans fittingly wrapped up the game by chanting "Trust the Process."

Sixers eager to learn whether they can deliver final blow to Heat

Sixers eager to learn whether they can deliver final blow to Heat

Now comes the hard part.

Sure, the Sixers return to the Wells Fargo Center for Tuesday night’s Game 5 with a 3-1 series lead over the Miami Heat. But everyone knows the fourth and final victory to eliminate an opponent is the toughest one.

“You’re throwing jabs, you’re feeling each other out. Then later on in the series, you have to deliver a crushing blow,” JJ Redick said at Monday’s practice. “You have to finish them.”

This version of the Sixers has never finished off a playoff series and it’s been quite a while since the organization has advanced in the postseason at all.

The last time was May 10, 2012, when the Sixers knocked off the top-seeded and severely banged-up Chicago Bulls. Andre Iguodala made a pair of free throws with 2.2 seconds left in Game 6 to give the Sixers a 79-78 home win to reach the second round.

Those were the days of the “Show Ya Luv” Sixers. That squad featured varied first-round draft picks, who made the most out of playing with heart and hustle. 

These “Trust the Process” Sixers comprised of topflight lottery picks are finding out that same formula carries weight in the postseason and certainly Philadelphia. It’s the superstar-level talent that sets the 2017-18 team apart from the previous group and has it thinking about more than just a single series victory.

“A lot of people say that we have a bright future, but I think our time is now,” Joel Embiid said (see story). “We have a pretty good chance. We have a special team, a lot of great guys. I don’t think we need anybody else. We’ve just got to work with what we have, and we have a special team. I feel like we have a pretty good chance to go far.”

The latest step in the Sixers’ journey is available to them at 8 p.m. in front of a crowd that will be at full throat once things tip off.

Will they deliver that knockout blow? It won’t be easy either way, but the franchise is eager to see how it handles the next challenge in this real-time maturation process now taking place on the NBA’s grandest stage.

“I look at the playoffs and I look at our team, we have as much room for growth as anybody,” head coach Brett Brown said. “I think we have more room for growth. I look at this as a really exciting opportunity. You sort of go through college and now here we are in grad school, if you will. We have a chance to learn a lot more. A lot more. And we need to.”