76ers

With Joel Embiid and Boban Marjanovic out, Jonah Bolden might be shifting Sixers' backup center situation

With Joel Embiid and Boban Marjanovic out, Jonah Bolden might be shifting Sixers' backup center situation

Jonah Bolden has seen quite a few things in his first NBA season. He’s suffered injuries, played in the G League, started, come off the bench. It sure feels as if he’s played more than 33 NBA games. 

And after game No. 33, a 120-117 loss to the Warriors on Saturday night (see observations), Bolden looks like he deserves a shot at meaningful playoff minutes for the Sixers.

With Joel Embiid (left knee tendinitis) and Boban Marjanovic (bone bruise and right knee sprain) out, Bolden has started the Sixers’ last two games, and he’s impressed. He’s shot a combined 10 for 12 with 26 points, six rebounds, two blocks and just one turnover. 

After missing 15 of his first 17 three-point NBA attempts, Bolden has nailed 20 of his last 45 (44.4 percent).

The 6-foot-10 Australian said he never lost faith in his jumper.

“Not going away from what I do,” he said. “I can go a couple games where my shot’s not falling and I’m not going to think any less of myself. I’ve always thought I could shoot from Day 1, so it was just a matter of time. Getting the opportunity, learning with the guys and being in the right spots.”

Through all the changes, Bolden has stayed confident in himself. He’s the type of rookie who likes his prospects against six-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, shoots without hesitation and makes savvy fashion decisions like wearing a retro Phillies uniform on the day of Bryce Harper’s introductory press conference. 

"The coaches have helped," Bolden said. "Coach [Jim] O’Brien came up to me a couple of times, telling me, ‘Stay locked in.’ You never know. The league’s very opportunistic. Coach likes to talk about we’ve had three teams this year. With each team, my role has shifted or my opportunities have risen or lessened. I’m not really taking in the negatives, moreso just waiting for the opportunity. The opportunity is here and I’m just making the most of it."

Bolden’s game can still be rough around the edges. He’s cut down on his turnovers recently, but foul trouble remains an issue — he picked up his fifth early in the fourth quarter against Golden State. Though it’s a problem he’s aware of, he doesn’t want concern over fouls to have an excessive influence on his game. 

“Nah, not really,” he said of whether there’s a way he can avoid foul trouble in the future. “Obviously it’s not good, but I’m not going to take away from my defensive ability by stepping off and not doing what I need to do, foul or not.”

Soon enough, Embiid and Marjanovic will be back, and the doubt over Bolden’s role will yet again resurface. The concerns about his rookie mistakes — the turnovers, the fouls, appearing not to properly follow the play on one after-timeout set Saturday night — will still be there. 

Ultimately, they might lead Brown not to trust Bolden in the playoffs. But given Marjanovic’s struggles against more agile big men and Bolden's recent resurgence, he's at least inserted himself into the discussion. 

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Sixers Talk podcast: Training camp is coming

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NBC Sports Philadelphia/YouTube

Sixers Talk podcast: Training camp is coming

Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick go back and forth about JJ Redick's comments about the importance of team dinners, five Sixers landing on SI's top 100, and Joel Embiid saying he has lost 25 pounds.

• Discussing nuggets about Jimmy Butler and the quadruple doink from JJ Redick's appearance on the Lowe Post.

• Sports Illustrated's Top 100 for 2020 came out. The rankings are mostly fair but the guys have one gripe.

• Joel Embiid said he lost 25 pounds ... but he clearly didn't lose his sense of humor.

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JJ Redick believes Sixers needed more team dinners on road last season

JJ Redick believes Sixers needed more team dinners on road last season

Sixers fans are generally excited about the team's new roster construction heading into the 2019-2020 season, but there's no doubt the sharp shooting of JJ Redick will be missed.

Redick took his talents down to the bayou and will suit up for the New Orleans Pelicans this season. Redick joined ESPN NBA insider Zach Lowe on Lowe's podcast this week to talk about his new opportunity. They also reflected a bit on his time with the Sixers and the tough loss to the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors in the playoffs after four bounces of a Kawhi Leonard desperation shot.

Redick is open about the fact that the decision to move on to New Orleans was partly financial.

"I never got the sense that [the Sixers] didn't want to bring me back. Unfortunately, it came down to a little bit of economics," Redick said.

Jimmy Butler's decision to move on to the Miami Heat obviously precipitated that move. Redick speaks highly of Butler regardless of his decision.

"I love Jimmy. I would play with Jimmy again," Redick said. "He is in the upper tier of two-way players and in the upper tier of offensive players in the NBA, period."

So Redick has moved on to New Orleans, but it's tough not to think back to what could have been. There was a point in the Toronto series where Redick believed the Sixers were capable of winning the NBA championship last season.

"Joel [Embiid] and I spent some time together after the season and we talked about it. It was Game 4 [against Toronto] for us. We lost that game and I felt like, for most of that game, we had control, not just that game but that series. We had a chance to go up 3-1. That was the opportunity that we missed. You lose that game and it's 2-2 and you've got to win 2 out of 3 against Toronto, and that's a tough task."

One other interesting nugget from Redick's time in Philly was his sharing that he believed they didn't do enough team dinners on the road.

"I wish, I've tried, I wish, the team meal on the road is huge. I think it's huge. We didn't do it enough last year in Philly. We tried. It wasn't enough. Some of that, look, nobody wants to be forced to go to dinner. It's got to be real and authentic."

Some other choice quotes from the pod below.

On Ben Simmons getting a jumper.

"Ben works. He worked all of last offseason. I witnessed him during the season get his shots up after practice every day. I think he'll be able to shoot at some point. A lot of it is confidence. He can shoot a high enough clip when he's shooting spot shots that it should translate to shooting threes in a game. The video that went viral, looks to me like he's shooting with some confidence there."

Lowe also asked Redick about the dagger shot in Toronto.

"I was on the bench," Redick said. "I sort of had that perfect angle 'cause as soon as the ball had come inbounds, I sort of walked onto the baseline. Not on the court, but onto the baseline so I could get a straight-on view of the action. My memory may be a little jogged but my arms were crossed, I was watching the ball bounce around the rim, and it went in. I'm not sure I had any initial reaction, I think it was just shock. Part of you wants to walk off the floor and punch a wall and the other part of you, if I'm the Raptors, I'd want to dap up the people that I had just played a seven-game series against. I stayed on the court and talked to Kyle, Marc, Kawhi, Danny and those guys. Told them I hope they win a championship and walked off. Then you get back to the locker room and you see the emotion, I was obviously feeling emotional, then Joel started crying. Those are the sorts of moments that you don't forget. As much as you don't forget the shot, the aftermath of moments like that, you just don't forget. There's just a lot of raw emotion."

You can listen to Redick's entire conversation with Zach Lowe right here.

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