76ers

James Ennis clearly takes lead over Jonathon Simmons in minutes battle

James Ennis clearly takes lead over Jonathon Simmons in minutes battle

James Ennis brought his game to the court Tuesday night, and he won’t let us forget it.

With Jimmy Butler out for rest, James Ennis started in the Sixers’ 106-99 win over the Cavs in a game that seemed like a layup for the Sixers, but ended up being a nail-biter until the last few seconds.

Scoring 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting, while adding seven rebounds, two assists and a block in 22 minutes, Ennis is starting to get comfortable in his red and blue jersey.

“He was our bell-ringer tonight,” Brett Brown said. “I thought he kept the game in from of him a lot — better than some of our perimeter defensive guys.”

Some of his teammates learned what Ennis can do. 

“I didn’t know he was as good of an offensive rebounder as he is and he’s made some spectacular plays at the rim, hitting the glass,” JJ Redick said.

With an opportunity to stand in the limelight, that’s just what he did. His quiet athleticism and ability to blend in with some of the best players in the league proved to be essential in securing the win.

As for last night’s performance, Ennis is now clearly winning "the tournament" against Jonathon Simmons for minutes.

Back when Ennis got traded from the Rockets for just about nothing, Simmons seemed to be the front runner in Brown's rotation. He had trouble finding his rhythm coming from Houston where he was in an offensive system predicated on hunting for threes. Brown's pace-and-space system emphasizes more player and ball movement.

If Ennis wanted to make an impact, he had to redefine and reconnect with his own individual skill set.

But it turns out that Ennis eventually found his groove and is just what the Sixers need heading into the stretch run — an athletic bench player who can be counted on to get the job done when the opportunity calls.

“He’s settling in comfortably,” Joel Embiid said. “We’re going to need him for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs.” 

That’s all Ennis could want. 

No longer stuck in the shadows on the Sixers’ bench, Ennis could be a key reserve down the stretch. 

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Sixers Talk Podcast: Breaking down one of the craziest playoff games in recent memory

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Sixers Talk Podcast: Breaking down one of the craziest playoff games in recent memory

On this episode of Sixers Talk, Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick (live from Brooklyn) react to one of the craziest playoff games in recent memory.

Paul was in attendance for the skirmish. What was it like? 

Joel Embiid was dominant. JJ Redick struggled but hit the shot that mattered. The bench (other than Jonah Bolden) played well. All of it led to the Sixers taking a commanding 3-1 series lead.

1:00 - What's up with Jared Dudley?
7:00 - How were you feeling throughout the game?
10:30 - How do you assess Ben Simmons playing with Embiid?
16:30 - Sixers' defense showed its potential.
20:30 - Redick struggled but hit the shot that mattered.
26:30 - Bench (other than Bolden) played effectively.
31:30 - Disappointed at all with Simmons in the fourth quarter?

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Sixers thrive in physical playoff atmosphere in Game 4, have Nets on brink of elimination

Sixers thrive in physical playoff atmosphere in Game 4, have Nets on brink of elimination

NEW YORK — Now, that was a playoff game.

After three games that weren’t very close on the scoreboard and didn’t boast much in the physicality department, Game 4 between the Sixers and Nets was a doozy.

From transcendent play to a fight that led to ejections to a few late-game heroics, the Sixers’ 112-108 win in Brooklyn Saturday afternoon had everything you could’ve wanted in a postseason basketball game (see observations).

Although nothing crazy had occurred, you could feel tension building with Jared Dudley. He’d called out Ben Simmons multiple times — which hasn’t worked out too well — and Nets coach Kenny Atkinson has used the veteran as an energy-type player off his bench. Atkinson opted to use Dudley in the starting lineup Saturday with explosive results. 

With 7:42 left in the third quarter, Jarrett Allen went up for a shot that was contested by Joel Embiid. Dudley, who thought the contact was excessive, ran and pushed Embiid in the back. Jimmy Butler wasted little time in coming to the defense of his big man, shoving Dudley (see video)

When the dust settled, Embiid was assessed a Flagrant 1 foul, his second of the playoffs on Allen, and Butler and Dudley were both ejected. That’s a hell of a trade-off for the Nets, but it did fire up Embiid, who was brilliant on Saturday, recording 31 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and six blocks in 31 minutes.

I for sure fed off of that. The fact that he had my back and, like I said, I’m going to pay that fine. That was great to see. You know Mike [Scott] has kind of been doing that all season. I’m sure if he was on the court and then someone would’ve pushed me, he’s always tenacious and has our back. Tonight, it was Jimmy so it’s a great to see that. You play with guys that care about you, that have your back and I don’t have to do anything else but just go back and have their back and that’s by dominating and trying to get us a win.

Embiid is definitely right about Scott. Scott has come to the defense of his teammates on multiple occasions since coming over at the trade deadline from the Clippers. He’s made it known he’s not a man to be trifled with.

But in this game, Scott and Butler sort of traded roles. While it was Butler who stood up for Embiid, it was Scott who played hero in the fourth quarter. With just 19.7 seconds left and the Sixers trailing 108-107, Scott nailed a corner three off a broken play that put the team up for good.

Scott is a man of few words, but when he does speak, he’s candid and it’s usually entertaining. He described the melee in the third as “great basketball” and was short and sweet in describing his huge late-game trey.

My job was just to space the floor and be a decoy. Tobias [Harris] tried to get it to Jo and I think the pass got deflected. Jo made a hell of a hustle play, saw me in the corner … cashed out.

On the next possession, the Sixers smothered Allen down low as Ben Simmons ripped the ball out of the big man’s hands. 

It was just another impressive example of the Sixers’ physical dominance over the Nets so far in this series.

“I thought as a team we had a physical play at the end where Ben ended up just kind of taking the ball and Tobias hit those free throws,” Brett Brown said. “Defensively, to hold that team to 17 fourth-quarter points in a game that’s clearly an important game for both of us. I thought our defense rose to another level in the fourth period when it mattered most.”

The Sixers went from dropping Game 1 to being on the brink of ending this thing in five games when the teams return to the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night.

How can the Sixers pull off their fourth straight win and eliminate the Nets?

“Stay physical. Get them off the three. Get them uncomfortable,” Scott said. “Just make shots, play in front of that crowd and end it.”

The man doesn’t mess around and neither have the Sixers over the last three games.

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