76ers

NBA Wrap: Grizzlies cruise past Blazers

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NBA Wrap: Grizzlies cruise past Blazers

PORTLAND, OR. -- Zach Randolph scored 23 points and had 10 rebounds and Mike Conley added 19 points and seven assists to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 98-81 victory against the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.

Marc Gasol had 15 points and eight rebounds and Courtney Lee scored 12 points for the Grizzlies (23-20), who have won three straight and seven of eight.

Lamarcus Aldridge had 27 points and 16 rebounds as the Blazers (33-13) slipped three games behind Northwest Division-leading Oklahoma City and had their home winning streak snapped at five.

Randolph registered his 27th double-double of the season as well as his franchise-leading 190th for the Grizzlies, who shot 51.8 percent and led from start to finish.

Portland fell to 18-5 at home (see full recap).

Anthony leads Knicks to win over Celtics
NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony had 24 points and nine rebounds in just 28 minutes, and the New York Knicks avenged an embarrassing home loss with a rout of their own, beating the Boston Celtics 114-88 on Wednesday night for their third straight victory.

Jeremy Tyler added a career-high 17 points and fellow reserve J.R. Smith also scored 17 for the Knicks, who lost by 41 last time the Celtics came to Madison Square Garden but led this one by 35. New York evened its record at 3-3 on its eight-game homestand, with games remaining against Cleveland on Thursday and Miami on Saturday.

New York is headed in the right direction again since ending a five-game losing streak Friday behind Anthony's 62 points, and is only a half-game out of the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot (see full recap).

Harden-less Rockets rally past Spurs
HOUSTON -- Dwight Howard scored 23 points, Terrence Jones had 21 and the Houston Rockets held on for a 97-90 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night.

The Rockets trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half before scoring 33 in the third quarter to go on top. San Antonio closed to 90-88 in the final minutes, but Howard and Jeremy Lin helped Houston hold on for the win.

Boris Diaw scored a season-high 22 points for the Spurs, and also had 11 rebounds. Tony Parker added 17 points and Tim Duncan had 12 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks.

The Rockets were without leading scorer James Harden (bruised left thumb), who is averaging almost 24 points a game this season (see full recap).

Davis dominates in Pelicans' win
CLEVELAND -- Anthony Davis scored 30 points with eight blocks and seven rebounds and Eric Gordon scored 20, leading the New Orleans Pelicans to a 100-89 win over the puzzling Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night.

Davis, one of three No. 1 overall picks in the game, was dominant at both ends of the floor as the Pelicans won their third straight. He injured fingers on his left hand in the final minutes, but got taped up during a timeout and stayed in.

New Orleans scored 16 straight points to close the first half and opened a 22-point lead in the third, causing some fans to boo the listless Cavaliers.

Kyrie Irving scored 23 and Dion Waiters 21 for the Cavs, who had a 1-4 homestand after a 3-2 trip out West.

Cavs rookie Anthony Bennett, the first pick in last year's draft, scored a season-high 15 (see full recap).

Bold predictions as Sixers tip off 2017-18 season

Bold predictions as Sixers tip off 2017-18 season

Each NBA season is filled with unexpected occurrences that change the landscape for a team, division, conference or even the entire league.

The Sixers will need to have a few of their own along the way as they seek their first playoff berth in five years.

With that said, Jessica Camerato, Marshall Harris, Matt Haughton and Paul Hudrick each provide a bold prediction for the Sixers’ new season.

Camerato: Embiid gets cleared for back-to-back games
Some people may think this should be a given and not a bold prediction, but given how closely the Sixers are monitoring Joel Embiid's playing time, this isn't a guarantee.

Embiid was not cleared for consecutive games last season as he returned from two years of foot injuries. The Sixers have 14 sets of back-to-backs in 2017-18. Of those, I predict Embiid will play in two pairs of them.

The Sixers will have to check off a comprehensive medical checklist before Embiid is given the green light to play two nights in a row. I do think at some point in the season, they will take this next step and do so on a minutes restriction.

Harris: Fultz won't start more than half Sixers’ games
Yes, Markelle Fultz is the No. 1 overall pick. The Sixers had to trade up to get him. That's why it pains me to admit this. It's not that I want this to be the case, it's just becoming more and more likely with each passing day. Bringing Fultz off the bench to start his NBA career makes the most sense.
 
Fultz is only 19 years old and going up against grown men in the NBA. He's dealing with a shoulder injury he admits has affected his shot, and he's already missed time in the preseason with knee soreness. The knee issue isn't new, as he's dealt with knee problems dating back to his lone season at Washington. 

Add all that up and it's easy to see how his reserve role could go on longer than just the first few games of the season.
 
For Ben Simmons to be most effective, he needs shooters around him. Jerryd Bayless missed almost all of last season, but in 2015-16 he shot 47.7 percent on catch-and-shoot threes. Alongside JJ Redick, Embiid, Robert Covington (I'd like to think he'll shoot better than 28.7 percent from three before January this season) and Bayless, Simmons will have the full complement of shooters he'll need for the Sixers’ offense to pace and space teams to death. 

Coming off the bench will give Fultz the room to grow comfortably, regardless of shoulder and knee issues. It makes sense now and will probably make sense for at least the first half of the season.

Haughton: Redick, Bayless finish top 10 in 3-point percentage
Let it fly. 

As Marshall mentioned above, with ample attention being paid to Embiid down on the block and Simmons serving up those crisp passes, Redick and Bayless should have plenty of good looks from three-point range.

All that’s left is to make the shots. That shouldn’t be a problem for Redick. The career 41.5 percent three-point shooter has finished among the top five in three of the past five seasons, including the No. 1 spot in 2015-16.

Bayless isn’t the same caliber shooter as Redick, but he has made strides to become a serious threat from long range. The veteran combo guard has shot 36.6 percent from distance for his career. However, Bayless connected on a career-high 43.7 percent in ’15-16 with the Bucks, his second season above 40.0.

Recent numbers suggest it will take around a 41.5 percent average to crack the top 10. I say the sharpshooters make the cut and provide the Sixers with an aspect of today’s NBA the team has been severely lacking for quite some time.

Hudrick: Brown gets named NBA’s top coach
Maybe I'm trying to go all LaVar Ball and will this into existence, but my bold prediction is that Brett Brown will win Coach of the Year.

If my season prediction is correct, the Sixers will make the playoffs with the same coach that's finished with a 75-253 record during his first four seasons. Brown has been through so much during his time here. Don't think that'll get lost on voters.

Think about some of the players Brown has had to trot out there. Tony Wroten. James Anderson. Furkan Aldemir. Isaiah Canaan. The one thing you could always say about the Sixers during the tanking years is the players on the court didn't tank. That's a credit to Brown, who had his team prepared and ready to play.

With actual NBA players, Brown will pull this team together. Nobody in this organization deserves vindication of their efforts more.

Wizards' Bradley Beal aims to quiet his buddy Joel Embiid

Wizards' Bradley Beal aims to quiet his buddy Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid has made noise with his mouth and social media presence.

His trash talk took the NBA by storm after the Sixers' preseason finale last Friday against the Miami Heat in Kansas City.

Embiid went after Heat center Hassan Whiteside (there's some history there) in a hilarious Twitter exchange that caught the eyes of many.

Wizards guard Bradley Beal is one of them.

"JoJo is my boy. I like JoJo. We have the same trainer and work out in the summers," Beal said Monday to NBC Sports Washington. "That was crazy. That was really crazy. He was letting his feelings be known."

The Sixers travel to the Wizards for their season opener Wednesday night. While Beal said he likes Embiid’s trash talking because it "keeps guys competitive," he added that his friend better not try it against his team.

"When he plays us, we're going to try to shut him down as best as we can," Beal said. "We aren't trying to hear none of that talking and I'm gonna let him know about it, too."

Embiid joked that he's the social media king.

"To me," he said, "it’s all fun."

The fun shifts to the court Wednesday night.

We'll have to see if the trash talk follows.