76ers

Ben Simmons moves up in All-Star voting

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Ben Simmons moves up in All-Star voting

The second wave of NBA All-Star fan votes are in and two Sixers are third at their position.

Among frontcourt players, Joel Embiid is behind only LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Embiid has received approximately 784,000 votes, which is 140,000 more than the next player on the list, Kristaps Porzingis.

Ben Simmons has the third-most votes among Eastern Conference guards, trailing only Kyrie Irving and DeMar Derozan. Simmons has received just under 398,000 votes and has a narrow lead over Victor Oladipo (385,000). Simmons trailed Oladipo after the first voting returns last week.

The NBA All-Star selection process is pretty complicated.

Fans account for 50 percent of the vote for starters, with NBA players and media accounting for 25 percent each. 

For more on how the selection process works, check out the explanation at the bottom of this post.

Voting ends on Jan. 15 at 11:59 p.m. Starters are announced Jan. 18 and reserves on Jan. 23. Reserves are selected by the coaches. 

The All-Star Game itself is Sunday, Feb. 18 in Los Angeles.

Benefit of having Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler on full display in Sixers' win

Benefit of having Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler on full display in Sixers' win

When you have a star player, you’ll have a chance to win games. When you have two, those chances increase. When you have three, you’re pretty damn hard to beat.

The Sixers didn’t have their best performance in a 119-114 win over the Suns Monday (see observations), but when you have three players the caliber of Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, you can still pull out a win.

Embiid continued to put up monster numbers with 33 points and 17 rebounds.

Simmons came up just an assist shy of a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. After a quiet start to the Butler era, Simmons has averaged 21 points and 13 shots in the last two games.

Butler has been effusive in his praise of Simmons. Monday night, he talked glowingly about Embiid.

I always thought he was an extremely talented player. Just glad that he’s on my team now. He makes everybody’s job so much easier. He causes so much attention when he has the ball and he’s a great passer. Obviously a tremendous scorer and a great defender. With him on our team, him challenging and blocking shots, scoring some buckets, he’s going to win us a lot of games.

Butler was quiet offensively, scoring 16 points and taking just nine shots. He continued to make a difference on the defensive end of the floor, but he deferred to Embiid and Simmons for most of the night.

And that’s the beauty of having the third star this team had coveted and now has in Butler. One of these guys is bound to have it going on any given night. If two — or all three — of them are cooking, good luck.

We’re only four games into this thing. Butler, as sensational as he has looked at times, hasn’t even fully asserted himself into a game offensively. He took just nine shots Monday. The last time Butler took nine or less shots in a game in which he played at least 32 minutes was Feb. 11 of last season. 

The other factor for Butler is his minutes. He’s “not old” at 29 as he pointed out last week, but he’s not exactly young either. Tom Thibodeau is infamous for playing all his best players huge minutes. Butler averaged almost 40 minutes a night in his last five games in Minnesota.

He played 32 minutes Monday night and in his debut. He played 32 minutes or less just twice in 10 games this season with the Timberwolves: His first game of the season and in a 30-point blowout loss to Milwaukee.

No matter who plays how many minutes or who takes the most shots, the Sixers are glad to have their three stars. 

The most exciting part is that this is only the beginning.

“I think it’s going great,” Butler said. “Hell, I’ve got my first practice tomorrow to really work everything out and know exactly where I’m supposed to be on every call and every play and all that good stuff. It all comes with time and I think, and I don’t like to say this, but I feel like we have a lot of time.”

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Sixers 119, Suns 114: Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons help Sixers overcome slow start to beat Suns

Sixers 119, Suns 114: Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons help Sixers overcome slow start to beat Suns

BOX SCORE

After a sluggish start, the home team did what it’s done all season long.

The Sixers kept their perfect record at the Wells Fargo Center intact with a 119-114 win over the Suns Monday.

They’re now 9-0 at home and 12-7 overall.

Here are observations from the win.

• Suns rookie Deandre Ayton got the better of Joel Embiid a couple times early, but you knew it was only a matter of time before Embiid had his way. The Sixers made a concerted effort to get the ball to Embiid on the block to start off the second quarter and he made his presence felt.

The footwork on this move which gave the Sixers their first lead was excellent …

Welcome to the NBA, rook.

Embiid just keeps putting up monster numbers, finishing with 33 points and 17 boards.

• Jimmy Butler continues to help the Sixers on both ends of the floor. With a little over 30 seconds left in the first half and his team trailing, 62-53, the Suns tried a lob to former Sixer Richaun Holmes. Butler came out of nowhere to block the shot.

On the other end, it led to a four-point play by Landry Shamet.

It was a quiet night for Butler offensively (16 points on 4 of 9), but with the way Embiid was cooking, Butler appeared content to let the big man work.

• Ben Simmons was aggressive early and often, attacking the rim throughout the game. 

His move in the second quarter on Trevor Ariza, an elite defensive wing, was one of the more impressive moves you’ll see by Simmons. He spun around Ariza and finished with a one-hand slam.

He finished an assist shy of a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. 

• An interesting side note tonight is that Markelle Fultz was not the first point guard off the bench in the second half. Brett Brown went to T.J. McConnell, who got a rousing ovation from the crowd. 

Like earlier in the season, the move was likely made for defensive purposes. We’ll find out more after the game.

• You saw another moment where Butler and Simmons seemed to read each other on the court. Late in the second quarter with Simmons bringing the ball up in transition, he noticed Butler on the block with Jamal Crawford on him. Simmons lobbed the ball to Butler and Butler was able to draw a foul.

After his home debut, Butler mentioned that he tells Simmons to throw it up to him like a wide receiver. It’s an interesting dynamic the two are starting to develop.

• Nothing about Wilson Chandler’s numbers will impress you, but he played well. The veteran forward is doing a ton of little things on both ends of the floor. His minutes restriction was bumped to 27 tonight and he made those minutes count.

He’s truly looked better in every game he’s played. At one point in the second quarter he made a really nice move and just missed a mid-range jumper. He does have some shot creating ability, something the Sixers could use. Once he’s fully unleashed, he should be a real asset for the Sixers.

• Speaking of Sixers offseason additions, Mike Muscala continues to give the team solid minutes. With Amir Johnson continuing to struggle, Muscala came off the bench as the backup five in the second half. He finished with a season-high 19 points, nine of those from the free throw line.

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