76ers

Bryan Colangelo explains why Markelle Fultz played hurt

Bryan Colangelo explains why Markelle Fultz played hurt

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers are calling a timeout for Markelle Fultz to address his right shoulder soreness.

Fultz will miss the next three games and will be reevaluated next Tuesday, a decision Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said was mutual between Fultz and the team. 

"I think that it's appropriate to take a step back, let him take a breath and get him healthy and ready to resume play hopefully next week," Colangelo said Wednesday morning, the day after Fultz's agent Raymond Brothers spoke to ESPN about Fultz's health. 

Fultz has had "a couple" of scans and ultrasounds, Colangelo said, and he does not have structural damage. Fultz most recently met with a shoulder expert Tuesday who has worked with baseball players. Fultz has received a cortisone shot, is doing physiotherapy treatment and is being monitored daily by the Sixers.

"Nothing's wrong with Markelle Fultz," Colangelo said.  

The exact cause of the shoulder soreness is unknown. There is a not a specific moment of injury and the Sixers are looking back to determine how it occurred. 

Fultz changed his shot form during the offseason in October. The Sixers became aware of the shoulder soreness in late September. The team is trying to pinpoint if Fultz's shoulder became irritated because of the change in form, or if he changed his form because of the soreness. 

What is known is Fultz has been hesitant to shoot away from the basket. The 41-percent three-point shooter in college has not attempted a trey in his first four NBA games. The soreness is most visible when Fultz is at the free throw line. His uncomfortable form became the subject of social media fodder on opening night. 

"There was no medical reason not to play him," Colangelo said. "He was cleared to play and he wanted to play. That's why he was playing. His reluctance to shoot, obviously his shot mechanics have been affected by whatever's going on, or vice versa."

On Tuesday, Brothers initially told ESPN Fultz had his shoulder drained. Later in the evening, the agent said there was no draining but rather Fultz had a cortisone shot. 

There was an hours-long gap in between the two reports and the Sixers' communication with Brothers as he traveled on a plane. In the meantime, Fultz retweeted the ESPN article and liked another tweet related to it. Colangelo was not fazed by Fultz's reaction on social media. 

"I would love to know the statistics of retweets, whether players actually do that or if people do that for them or friends do that for them," Colangelo said. "It's something that I don't really pay attention to. There is noise out there but it certainly doesn't affect our decision-making. I know I'm aligned with the agent, which probably manifested itself in the correction last night. … The bottom line, I think we're all aligned." 

Of course, Sixers fans want to be aligned with news about the players' health, too. After the team's long history with injuries, information is key, especially as the expectations for success are heightened this season. Prior to the ESPN report, the Sixers had not said Fultz received a shot. 

"I don't think a cortisone shot treating a shoulder that we reported as sore is necessarily cause for a (press) release or cause for an announcement," Colangelo said, adding, "I think we've been pretty transparent." 

Fultz will join the Sixers when they travel this weekend to Dallas and Houston, where he will continue to receive treatment. The Sixers' next game after Fultz's reevaluation is the following day against the Hawks. 

"No one's panicking inside. The sky's not falling," Colangelo said. "Markelle Fultz is going to be a great basketball player for this organization and we're confident that we're going to get this thing resolved."

Sixers vs. Brooklyn: 3 storylines to watch and how to live stream the game

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AP images

Sixers vs. Brooklyn: 3 storylines to watch and how to live stream the game

The Philadelphia 76ers (19-9) will look to extend their league-leading record at home (14-1) against the Brooklyn Nets (10-18) at Wells Fargo Center. Though their first matchup against the Nets at Barclays Center is one they’d like to forget, it was Jimmy Butler’s game-winner in their second match-up that everyone will remember. But tonight, Butler is doubtful with a groin strain.

Here are the essentials for tonight’s matchup.

• When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
• Where: Wells Fargo Center
• Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
• Live stream: nbcsportsphiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

Here are three storylines to watch.

Spencer Dinwiddie is always a problem

Dinwiddie always causes the Sixers trouble. He scored 31 points in his 28 minutes off the bench in their last matchup, including 4-5 from three-point range. He’s second in the league in assists off the bench, trailing only JJ Barea. And is tied for the most double-digit scoring games off the bench with Lou Williams (24).  With the Sixers bench already depleted, watch out for Dinwiddie to have another big night.

To blitz or not to blitz?

In their last game against Brooklyn, the Sixers found success defensively after they started blitzing and double teaming the pick and roll in the second half. Defending the pick and roll has been one of the Sixers biggest defensive weaknesses this season. With a team certainly looking to exploit that, it’ll be interesting to see what defensive adjustments the Sixers start this game off with.

Clutch Who?

The Brooklyn Nets are tied for the most clutch games (those in which the margin has been five points or fewer during the final five minutes of a game), in the NBA this season with 17, but their record is just 5-12 in those games. The Sixers, on the other hand, have played in just one less clutch game this season, but their record is 13-3 (and two of those wins are game-winning three-pointers by Jimmy Butler). With Butler likely out tonight, and the game on the line, who steps up?

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You’ve never seen a practice court like the Sixers'

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NBCSP

You’ve never seen a practice court like the Sixers'

No matter the sport, no matter the decade, there is one question that always remains the same.

How do you gain that edge?

And under normal circumstances, once you’ve felt like you were on to something, you’d prefer not to share it with the world. Because then, what would the advantage be, if your opponents could use it, too?

Such is the case when you’ve creatively painted advanced statistics onto your practice court, an area that also happens to be visible to us media folk.

You might’ve already heard about the four-point line added last season, a light grey semi-circle, measured exactly five feet behind the traditional three-point line. And no, it’s not to encourage four-point shots in practice. In it’s most simplistic form, it is there as a reminder (or requirement, rather) to spread the floor, to create additional room in the half-court, in a league where the three-point shot is king.  

But, before the season started there were two further innovations to the practice court.

The first being four 28 x 84 inch (or 2 1/3 x 7 feet) red rectangles, placed in each of the four corners of the court.

The second is an arc that spans a few feet beyond the width of the paint and a few feet short of the top of the key.

Let’s start with the rectangles.

Their purpose is two-fold. Defensively, they are a hint to close out on shooters. Offensively, they are a reminder that someone should be in both corners within the first 3-5 seconds of the shot clock to get the offense in motion.

“It’s one of those absolutes,” Brown explained of his new practice court additions. “It’s not negotiable and because of that, it has a far greater chance to succeed over time. We can keep reinforcing it, keep talking about it, and because you come into the gym and it’s clearly delineated, the message, plus the visual does not go away.”

28 games in, and the Sixers are already seeing improvements defensively. Sixers opponents are shooting just 31.3 percent from corner threes this season, the best mark in the NBA. Granted, there’s still a long way to go and Brown stressed something like this takes time.

“I can see that over the course of a year, you have a far greater chance, when you can find those things that aren’t anything but black and white and there's no vagueness or ambiguity, then you have a chance to fix it and get better at it.”

Brown seemed a bit more hesitant to reveal the reasoning behind the arc, which is driven out of the volume of threes that has taken over the NBA game and where a miss winds up after a perimeter shot.

“Where do the highest volume of three-point misses occur? After we came up with that measurement, we painted the line. Within that arc, that's where the highest volume of misses occur (on three-point shots).”

“It’s a stupid number, pick it, five million three point shots studied,” Brown estimated. “That (pointing to the space within the arc) is where misses occur.”

Again, the purpose is two-fold.

“We are trying to, offensively, get into this area, and defensively trying to keep people out of this area.”

By doing so, offensively, the Sixers are able to determine where most shots land after long misses, which in theory, should also produce more offensive rebounds. Defensively, you try to keep your opponents out of that area when a three-pointer goes up, which in theory, should produce more defensive rebounds.

But there was one more thing Brown had to say before walking away.

“We just spill our guts and share secrets to the world,” Brown said, shaking his head, seemingly disappointed in sharing something they’ve worked so hard for. “This is my court. This is 57 years, 35 worth of beliefs…”

“Why would I go telling other people how to get better, why would I do that? Why?”

And with that, Brown turned away, stepped over his four-point line and marched back to the bench.

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