76ers

Iverson's legendary career nears conclusion

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Iverson's legendary career nears conclusion

That Allen Iverson officially will be retiring from basketball in the coming days, as reported by SLAM magazine, should not come as a surprise.

Iverson’s representatives did not confirm nor deny the report in an e-mail. Instead the reps stated that the former Sixer will make an official comment about the topic at an appropriate time.

Iverson last played in an NBA game on Feb. 20, 2010 for the Sixers. In the rare occasions since when he has spoken publicly, the guard said he hoped another team would reach out to him at some point.

That situation never came to fruition and Iverson hinted that his career was likely over when he returned to the Wells Fargo Center on March 30 for his own bobblehead night.

“At some point it comes to an end regardless, however it comes, whether it is retirement or injury, at some point it comes to an end,” Iverson said that night. “I am happy and content with everything that has gone on in my life and I am just looking for the next phase, and if I get a chance to play again I would love the opportunity, but if not I will continue to just be happy.”

Iverson turned 38 years old in June. He is not eligible for the Hall of Fame until 2015, but potentially being inducted weighs on his mind.

“I think about it all the time,” Iverson said. “My friends let me know about it. My family let me know about it and me being, I wouldn’t say arrogant or cocky, but confident as I am, I expect that to happen and I am looking forward to it.

“I think that would be the best as far as putting an exclamation point on my career. Being drafted was the best but going down as one of the best ever to play the game would be the exclamation point.”

Iverson played 914 NBA games over 14 years. He scored 24,368 career points, which ranks 19th all-time. He was MVP of the league in the Sixers’ magical 2001 season when they reached the NBA Finals. He made 11 All-Star Game appearances and won the league’s scoring title four times.

But Iverson’s departure from the NBA was not graceful. Following his 2½ seasons in Denver after being traded by the Sixers, Iverson had a stop in Detroit, three games in Memphis, 25 games in a second stint with the Sixers, basketball in Turkey and two exhibition games in China.

He had lost a step and without his explosiveness could no longer get to the rim. Iverson never wanted to come off the bench and spent little time in the weight room, if any. Both became issues for him as he aged.

Still, the city of Philadelphia admired the toughness and grit Iverson played with every night. That is something that can’t be measured by the numbers.

Opening week affects MVP odds of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid

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Opening week affects MVP odds of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid

Ben Simmons had himself a historic first week in the NBA and as a result, his MVP odds have changed substantially.

Listed by Bovada on Oct. 10 at 80/1 to win MVP, Simmons is now at 33/1, tied with DeMarcus Cousins and ahead of Marc Gasol, Blake Griffin and Damian Lillard.

Simmons became the first player since Oscar Robertson to produce at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in each of his first three career games.

Teammate Joel Embiid had a less successful start to the year, averaging 14.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in two games but shooting just 35.5 percent from the field and missing all 10 three-point attempts.

And yet somehow, Embiid's MVP odds have changed from 40/1 to 25/1. He has the same MVP odds as Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis.

Griffin, at 50/1, is a sneaky good bet for MVP. The Clippers are his team now with Chris Paul in Houston, and Griffin has added long-distance shooting to his game, making three triples in each game. Two games in, he's averaging 29.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists. 

If he can stay healthy (a huge if) and lead the Clippers to 52-plus wins in a loaded Western Conference, you'd have to think Griffin would be looked at more favorably in terms of MVP odds than someone on a star-studded team like any of the Warriors or Rockets, if Paul returns from his knee injury within a month and affects James Harden's stats even slightly. 

Giannis Antetokounpo and LeBron James look like the two players most likely to win MVP, but 50/1 for Griffin is good value if you think this is the year he stays healthy. If he didn't have a history of injuries, his odds right now would be closer to those of John Wall (28/1) or Towns (25/1).

Sixers-Pistons thoughts: Joel Embiid vs. Andre Drummond takes center stage

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Sixers-Pistons thoughts: Joel Embiid vs. Andre Drummond takes center stage

Dust yourself off and try again.

That's all the Sixers (0-3) can do as they again go for their first win of the new season. They'll get a slight break this time when they face the Pistons (2-1) at new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit (7 p.m./NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports app). It's the Sixers' first opponent in 2017-18 that didn't reach the playoffs a season ago.

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

• After resting for the second game of a back-to-back set in Saturday's 128-94 loss to the Toronto Raptors, Joel Embiid will return to the Sixers' starting lineup on Monday night.

Embiid is still finding his way offensively to start 2017-18. He is averaging 14.5 points through two games but shooting just 35.5 percent from the field and he's missed all 10 of his three-point attempts.

Those outside shots should start to dwindle in the big man's first-ever meeting with Andre Drummond and the Pistons after Embiid made it clear that he wants more touches in the post.

• We'll see if Embiid's camping out in the paint can help the Sixers even out their foul disparity.

Through three games, the Sixers are ninth in personal fouls drawn (24.3). However, they have committed a league-high 28.0 fouls per game.

That has led to opponents attempting 35.7 and making 27.7 free throws per game against the Sixers, both NBA highs.

Officials definitely have tighter whistles when a new season begins as they want to drive home points of emphasis from offseason rule changes and discussions. Still, this is a problem the Sixers need to end quickly if they want to get in the win column.

• The Pistons have been strong on the offensive end so far, scoring over 100 points in each game.

While the entire team deserves credit with five players averaging in double figures, Tobias Harris is leading the pack with some impressive scoring marks.

Harris has put up 24.3 points per game on 55.8 percent shooting from the field and an insane 47.1 percent from beyond the arc.

While Embiid's matchup with Drummond will likely take top billing heading into this contest, the real heavyweight battle could end up being between Harris and defensive ace Robert Covington.

• The Sixers managed one win in three contests against the Pistons last season. The teams split the two matchups at the Palace of Auburn Hills, which has now been replaced by the $862.9 million Little Caesars Arena. The Sixers have the opportunity to become the NBA's first visiting team to notch a win in the new arena.

Richaun Holmes (wrist) is out for the Sixers.

Dwight Buycks (hip) and Reggie Bullock (suspension) are out for the Pistons.