76ers

Sixers told us exactly what they would be, and they weren’t kidding

Sixers told us exactly what they would be, and they weren’t kidding

Teams sometimes meander upon their identity after a long season, stumble upon it around New Year’s or never truly find it. The 2019-20 Sixers have no such problem. 

Head coach Brett Brown, whenever there’s been an opening, has reminded reporters of the Sixers’ desire to embody the spirit of Philadelphia. Those words aren’t empty. 

If you went into our practice facility, it’s our creed — it’s Philly hard, Philly edge and there’s an authenticity — it’s real,” he said Wednesday night after a 117-95 Sixers win over the Timberwolves that featured a chaotic fight between Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns. “And every time we can, we like to point to an example. Like yep, this is Philly hard. That thing had an edge. This is real. There’s a spirit amongst our team that’s authentic.

After the fight, and the post-ejection shadowboxing, and the crowd’s rapturous “MVP” chants as Embiid headed back to the locker room, Mike Scott knew what he was supposed to say about the incident. He opted against an insincere reaction.

“It was definitely entertaining,” he said. “Let’s get all the bad s--- out. You don’t want to condone it, kids are watching. We’ll see what the league does. But that was great. Probably … nah, f--- that. That was great. I enjoyed that. He’s a superstar. With plays like that, he just has that Philly toughness in him.”

Embiid borrowed one of Scott’s favorite phrases when asked what sort of trash talk had led to the fight.

“Well, first of all, I ain't not b----,” he said. “So no, there was not a lot of talking. It kind of happened out of nowhere. I just did what I had to do and I was just trying to control myself. It happens.”

Unlike Embiid, who also bragged about “owning that real estate" in the mind of Towns, the Timberwolves’ center wasn’t boastful.

“It was a competitive game, that’s all it was,” he said. “There are a lot of great things we can learn and really go out there and try to beat Washington.”

Towns deflected questions about what caused the fight, whether he regretted it and if he’d indeed taken a swing at Embiid in a similar manner. He used the word “competitive” six times in his postgame scrum. 

Embiid and the Sixers, on the other hand, were sticking their chests out.

... I was built for this city and they were built for me," Embiid said. "My reaction, the reaction and the love they have for me —I can't thank them enough. ... And I heard the MVP chants from the locker room. But that's what the city of Philadelphia is about. You got to come here, you got to fight. You got to play hard. Got to be gritty. You got to be Broad Street bully. So that's what it's about. So we're going to keep on fighting and trying to accomplish the goal we have set for us.

The dissonant voice was Al Horford. After a 12-point, 16-rebound, four-assist night — not that many will recall the stats from this game at the end of the year — the even-keeled 33-year-old was displeased with the incident between Embiid and Towns. He’d kept a good distance from the scrum of bodies on the floor and did not like what he’d witnessed. 

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. "I couldn’t believe it. It’s just one of those things. Those two players are two of our great young players in the league. I’ve known Karl for years, I know his family. He’s a good kid. Joel’s a good kid, as well. It’s just one of those things that you don’t want to see in a game. Our game is a great game. That happened, and it was unfortunate. I do hope that they both learn from this. There’s just no place for that in our game.”

The Sixers likely won’t tune out Horford if he expresses that opinion behind closed doors. His new teammates have publicly praised his work ethic, professionalism and intelligence. They seem to genuinely respect his viewpoint. But, while Scott might be the most extreme, unfiltered version of the team's identity, his attitude appears to be a natural one for the Sixers, one of two remaining unbeaten teams in the NBA.

“Smash mouth offense, bully ball defense,” Brown had promised at his annual luncheon with the media before the season. 

Well, Ben Simmons had Towns in a headlock at the bottom of that pile of bodies Wednesday night, with the Sixers up 20 and their best player in the middle of a mess. It seems safe to say he’s bought in. (For what it’s worth, referee Mark Ayotte told The Associated Press pool reporter that the officiating crew “deemed [Simmons] a peacemaker.” We’ll see whether the league agrees with that assessment upon further review.)

“You’ve gotta have that mentality,” Scott said. “Like I said, we don’t want to come out here and fight every night, s--- like that. But sometimes you’ve gotta do that. I have to watch the whole replay and see what happened. But I feel like Jo did what he had to do. S---, I would have done the same thing.”



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No-nonsense Philly fans help Sixers beat Bucks in NBA2K simulation

No-nonsense Philly fans help Sixers beat Bucks in NBA2K simulation

The first time the Sixers beat the NBA-best Bucks this season was on Christmas Day. Their second win over Milwaukee was a bit different — it came in an NBA2K simulation Tuesday night on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Here are a few observations on the virtual Sixers’ 72-65 victory:

A game-changing run 

The Sixers went on a 19-0 run starting in the middle of the first quarter to open up an early 16-point lead, and Matisse Thybulle and Alec Burks were two of the primary catalysts.

Thybulle was rewarded for passing up a wide-open dunk, finding Furkan Korkmaz for a three in the left corner. About a minute later, the rookie ripped the ball from the hands of Wesley Matthews, a player 10 years his elder, and cruised in the other direction for a dunk. 

Burks played well on both ends, helping to push the pace and force the Bucks to guard dribble penetration, which they had trouble doing when Antetokounmpo was on the bench. 

The one-man show 

Antetokounmpo was tremendous, scoring 32 points. He just didn’t receive very much help.

The broadcasting crew evidently enjoyed his performance. With Milwaukee trailing 30-16, Antetokounmpo smothered a Tobias Harris drive and blocked his lefty hook attempt, prompting Kevin Harlan to yell out with great enthusiasm, “And the rejection by Giannis!”

The energy was great, but Harlan’s call was perhaps a bit much in the second quarter of a game the Sixers led by 14 … 

Strong game for Harris 

The Sixers’ frontcourt didn’t provide much offense in this one as Joel Embiid scored 10 points and Al Horford only managed four on 1 for 9 shooting. At least his one make was authoritative.

Along with the bench, Harris helped mitigate those struggles. He scored 20 points (7 of 14), crashing the offensive rebounds and playing a determined, physical game. 

A classic Philly fan … 

The 2K fans in attendance at Wells Fargo Center chanted, “Go, Sixers, go!” on a few occasions. That particular chant hasn’t been in the rotation at Wells Fargo Center this year, but maybe the crowd has decided to switch things up a bit with the end of the virtual regular season nearing.

In the second quarter, we witnessed a moment that felt more realistic. As Antetokounmpo dribbled the ball up the floor and paused around the three-point arc, a lone Sixers fan yelled out, “Hey, who’s got Giannis? Come on!”

Even with the Sixers up by double digits, that no-nonsense demand of maximum effort and attention to detail seemed true to real life. 

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Sixers Talk podcast: John Gonzalez joins us to talk Allen Iverson and ... Ron Swanson?

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Sixers Talk podcast: John Gonzalez joins us to talk Allen Iverson and ... Ron Swanson?

The Ringer's John Gonzalez joined the Sixers Talk podcast to discuss Allen Iverson's place, the Sixers actually hitting on Matisse Thybulle, how he's keeping himself occupied and much more.

(0:58) • Where Allen Iverson falls in the basketball landscape compared to his peers.

(13:40) • How great it is for the Sixers to hit on Matisse Thybulle.

(22:18) • Finishing the season in Las Vegas or ... Atlantic City?

(33:01) • How John has been holding up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(45:33) • Did Shaq really let A.I. score when their teams played against each other?

Subscribe and rate Sixers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers