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Sixers' future is now, but maybe not quite there yet

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Sixers' future is now, but maybe not quite there yet

Wow, was that first half against the Golden State Warriors fun Saturday night or what? Going into the break up 22, with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons dominating, Robert Covington and JJ Redick hitting from everywhere and the Warriors playing at least marginally shook, looking like a team woefully underprepared for a fully weaponized Sixers squad. It was absolutely stunning seeing it all come together, since as good as the Sixers had been through 14 games so far this year, they'd still never played a full game this season with both their shooters hitting and their stars locked in. 

And they still haven't. As second quarter gave way to third, can't say for certain if the Warriors' switch was flipped, but something definitely was. All of a sudden, the paint closed off for Embiid and Simmons, Covington started clanking and trying to defend the Warriors was as fruitless as trying to save a soup with a hole torn in the takeaway carton. Philly's 22-point lead turned into a 10-point deficit, and it wasn't coming back. Final score: 124-116, Warriors. 

Once this one really got outta control — in a bad way — you kinda just had to laugh about it. The Sixers' first-half steamrolling was head-smackingly unsustainable, but to see everything good about their performance dissolve so fully and so quickly, there was nothing really to say: You just had to recall fondly how hilariously beautiful those first 24 minutes were, and know that someday we'll get a performance like that from the Liberty Ballers that extends all 48. Maybe even against these Warriors, who probably weren't gonna lose to both the present and the future of the Eastern Conference in back-to-back outings. 

As much fun as it would've been for the Sixers to jump their timeline about two seasons in one night, they're not there yet. Half their bench is out, for one thing, including that guy Markelle Fultz who should still be an enormous difference-maker for Brett Brown's crew if he ever gets his head (and his shoulders) straight. And though Simmons and Embiid already both show flashes of "Oh My God They've Figured It Out" and "We're All Doomed" with absurd frequency, to expect them to have totally solved the NBA with 59 games of Association experience between them is not terribly realistic. The team's turned a corner this season, no doubt, but there's still a lot of corners left in that treehouse for them to investigate. 

The good news? The Sixers are staying at home for a while now — after playing 10 of their first 14 on the road, they're now in the midst of eight of nine in South Philly — with challenging, but mostly winnable games coming up, including Monday night against the Utah Jazz. The Sixers are not ready to run the rest of the league off the court just yet, but they're ready to establish themselves as one of the decisively good teams, and hopefully, their home building as one of the league's obviously tough arenas. For a team where crisis forever lurks just below the surface, that would certainly be enough Process-to-Progress for one season. 

Karl-Anthony Towns tried coming at Joel Embiid on Instagram ... and it was a mistake

Karl-Anthony Towns tried coming at Joel Embiid on Instagram ... and it was a mistake

Joel Embiid didn’t let back stiffness keep him from returning to the Sixers’ lineup on Tuesday with a dominant effort in the team’s 118-112 OT win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Embiid had 28 points (8 of 16 shooting), 12 rebounds and eight assists in a career-high 39 minutes. However, the big man’s best performance might have come on social media the following day.

On Wednesday, Embiid sent out a picture on Instagram and Twitter of him scoring a bucket past fellow center Karl-Anthony Towns during the victory.

Euro stepping our way through Minnesota and we ended up raising the cat last night #TheProcess

A post shared by Joel "The Process" Embiid (@joelembiid) on

Towns, who had 19 points and 16 rebounds in the matchup, had a response. But much like on the court, Embiid got the best of this battle too.

h/t Bleacher Report Twitter account.

M. Night Shyamalan says JJ Redick plays like he's 'at war' with himself

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USA Today Images

M. Night Shyamalan says JJ Redick plays like he's 'at war' with himself

After pouring in 26 points during the Sixers’ 118-112 OT win over the Minnesota Timberwolves to close out a three-game road trip, JJ Redick took a brief break to drop off his latest podcast.

This edition’s guest was Timberwolves star center Karl-Anthony Towns. The two touched on a myriad of topics, perhaps the most interesting of which was a look at the inner workings of the mind of an NBA player.

Towns explained the origin of “Karlito,” an imaginary friend he developed at Kentucky that he talks to on the court for encouragement, to vent frustrations, calm nerves, etc.

That’s when Redick shared a story of one famous Sixers fan dissecting his own demeanor on the court.

“We have these breakfast meetings with the Sixers and this past week the movie director M. Night Shyamalan, who did Signs and Unbreakable [and] a bunch of other movies, he came and spoke to our team for about an hour,” Redick said.

“This is a guy who reads emotions. That’s what he does for a living. He tries to get actors to portray something and have it show up on screen and then sort of elicit an emotion. So he’s going through a few guys on our team, he’s a season-ticket holder of the Sixers [and] he sits courtside, so he’s going through and he’s talking about JoJo (Joel Embiid) and he’s talking about Ben (Simmons) and different things and he gets to me and he says to me, ‘When I watch you play, you’re at war with yourself.’ And I thought to myself that’s really (bleeped) up that he would say that in front of the team, but the other part of me was like maybe there’s some truth to that.”

Apparently it’s far from the first time someone told Redick he was inside his own head on the floor. The veteran sharpshooter said his father noticed those tendencies early on in his playing days.

“My dad knows me really well,” Redick said. “He knows how messed up I am in the head. He used to make me write head case on my shoes in high school. Some of my actual career highs in the NBA, as I’m setting career highs 27, 29, 31 [points], whenever I get to that level, I would always miss free throws. He would text me after the game and be like I know all you’re thinking about are the missed free throws. And I would be like, you hit it.”

Redick and Towns went on to discuss NBA unicorns, playing for Tom Thibodeau, the big man’s OCD tendencies and much more. Check out the entire podcast right here.