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Top draft prospects make cases for how they'd fit with Sixers

Top draft prospects make cases for how they'd fit with Sixers

The Sixers got to know numerous prospects last week at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. Guards, wings and big men alike met with the Sixers as the team assesses potential fits with its bevy of picks, which could include two first- and four second-rounders. 

Here's how those players see themselves fitting with the Sixers and their impressions from interviewing with the team:

De'Aaron Fox, guard, Kentucky
The Sixers asked the projected top-10 pick how he would play alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Fox, a point guard, would be comfortable playing off the ball with Simmons and taking advantage of shot opportunities created by Embiid.

"I feel like I'm shooting it a lot better," Fox said. "Once I'm getting back to how I shot it in high school, I feel like I could really fit with Ben. He's fast. I feel like the position he plays, not many people can grab a rebound and push it with the speed and vision that he has."

Fox said of Embiid, "Playing with any good big, it's a positive. It kind of takes the pressure off of you. You throw it in there and they're going to double-team and do whatever they can to stop him. It's going to get me open looks, and I just have to show that I can knock them down."

Justin Jackson, forward, North Carolina
The 6-foot-8 forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan sees himself spreading the floor and being a versatile defender in the NBA.

"It was a great meeting," Jackson said. "A lot of times for these meetings, they call it speed dating. ... I'm having to kind of switch gears from watching as a fan to watching as somebody who might be playing in it one day. I think overall, for any team, it's kind of that whole spacing, being able to shoot, giving them a longer wing that can defend one or two positions."

Ivan Rabb, forward, California 
At 20 years old, Rabb related to the youth of the Sixers. He viewed them as a team he would like to grow with as they develop their roster.

"I love what they’re doing. They kept talking about they feel like they’re a piece or two from turning the corner," Rabb said. "They’re playing a lot of young, talented guys. As a young guy coming in, you want a shot to play. I think they’re doing a good job of trying to find out their culture and who they are."

Justin Patton, center, Creighton
The Sixers are overloaded with size in the frontcourt. The 6-foot-11 Patton could envision himself playing alongside other bigs and would welcome advice from more experienced teammates, which the Sixers are looking to add this offseason.

"The only way you stay on the court in the NBA late in the game is playing defense," Patton said. "I think I complement [bigs] well with passing in general. I’ve got a good IQ for the game. I know the game really well. I’ve been studying it. It depends on who my veteran is on the team. I will continue to soak everything in."

P.J. Dozier, guard, South Carolina
The athletic shooting guard liked the vibe of his interview with the Sixers and believes he could add to their backcourt.

"They're really cool people, really down-to-earth," Dozier said. "Their record doesn't really reflect how good their team is. They battled some injuries. It was good seeing Embiid get back out there, and of course everybody's waiting for Ben. They have a lot of talent. It's just in due time, they'll come around. ... I definitely see myself in their system. They have a great team. Their guard play is really good, but I definitely feel like I can come in and definitely provide for them as well."

Joel Embiid ready for home playoff debut, says Sixers' 'time is now'

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Joel Embiid ready for home playoff debut, says Sixers' 'time is now'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid received a text message from across the NBA following the Sixers’ 27-point win over the Heat in Game 1. 

It was from Draymond Green, sending his championship-winning insight. 

“Draymond texted me after the first game when we blew Miami out,” Embiid recalled Monday. “He basically told me that it’s not going to be the same in Game 2. They came back and they won that game.” 

Green was right. Each contest has been a match of adjustments, including Embiid’s return from a 10-game layoff. Wearing a required mask with goggles, Embiid played in the Sixers’ Game 3 and Game 4 victories. 

Now he’s poised to make his postseason home debut Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center, where he’s been eager to compete in a playoff game his entire career. 

“The atmosphere was amazing, it was insane,” Embiid said of the home crowd in Games 1 and 2. “After going to Miami, I felt like nothing compared to it. … We’ve been almost perfect [at home] since the beginning of the year. It just shows you how much we need them. Especially myself, I play better in that type of environment. I need the fans to get into it and push me. That makes me elevate my game.” 

Embiid’s offensive game has been impacted since coming back from a concussion and left orbital fracture suffered on March 28. He scored 23 points (5 for 11 FG) with seven rebounds, four assists, three blocks and three turnovers in Game 3. The following game, he posted 14 points (2 for 11 FG, 0 for 4 from three), 12 rebounds, five blocks and eight turnovers. Embiid is shooting 31.8 percent from the field and 71.4 percent from the line in the series. 

“The main thing, especially when it (the offense) doesn’t go my way, is just be a beast defensively,” he said. 

Embiid cannot play without the protective mask, though, which he has described as “annoying” and “weird.” Markelle Fultz and Amir Johnson tried on the goggles after practice Monday to get a glimpse into his line of vision. 

“They kind of saw my pain when I have to wear them,” Embiid said. “But that can’t be an excuse. I have to get used to it.” 

Embiid’s mindset going into Game 5 is to close out the Heat series and get some extra time before the second round (see story). The Celtics and Bucks series is tied 2-2. He sees the first round as just the starting point for the Sixers’ postseason. 

“A lot of people say that we have a bright future, but I think our time is now,” Embiid said. “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. 

"So it’s just about us taking care of the little things, like not turning the ball over, just playing together, like we've been doing, sharing the ball, not be selfish, and everything is going to take care of itself." 

Embiid will take the court for his first postseason game in Philadelphia when the Sixers tip off against the Heat at 8 p.m. Tuesday on NBCSP.

"The playoffs, that’s kind of like you play in front of the whole world," Embiid said. "I feel like I thrive in that type of situation because I feel like I was made for this." 

Sixers know what must be done to knock out Heat

Sixers know what must be done to knock out Heat

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers have pushed the Heat to the brink of elimination and now they are hunkering down for yet another battle in this hard-fought first-round matchup. 

The Sixers do not anticipate closing out the series Tuesday night at home to be any easier than the first four grind-it-out games. 

“You don’t have to be a wise man to know what is about to happen, what style of play they’re going to try to play,” Brett Brown said before practice Monday. “Especially when they’re going to go home if they’re not able to find a win. We understand that.”

The Sixers are returning to the Wells Fargo Center up 3-1 after completing the challenging task of taking two straight games on the road. As they prepare for what could be a deciding game, they are focused on fixing their mistakes from the previous ones. The Sixers overcame giving up 30 points on 27 turnovers, shooting 7 for 31 from three, and trailing by 12 in Game 4. 

“I said it after the game and I’ll say it again now: we were very fortunate to win that game,” Brown said. “The discipline that we did not show offensively and defensively in the first three periods, especially as I go back and watch it, can’t happen.” 

Regardless of the final score, the Heat have proven to be a feisty squad each night. The tussle between Robert Covington, James Johnson and Ben Simmons exemplified the spirit of the series. The teams were whistled for a combined 10 technical fouls in Games 3 and 4. 

Goran Dragic said the Heat are not going to show up at the Wells Fargo Center to surrender. The Sixers don’t anticipate them to, either. 

“A team like Miami, their culture, their organization, their group of guys, they have fighters, they have warriors on their team,” JJ Redick said. “Every game in this series has been tough. There’s no expectations that Game 5 will be any different.”

The Sixers have not advanced out of the first round since 2012, the last time they were in the playoffs. With a 3-1 lead, their objective Tuesday is clear. 

“Our mindset is to close it out,” Joel Embiid said.