76ers

Sixers' Josh Richardson named Eastern Conference Player of the Week

Sixers' Josh Richardson named Eastern Conference Player of the Week

Brett Brown has labeled Josh Richardson as the Sixers’ “mortar,” a player with talents that help hold everything together on an unusually built team.

Richardson has been filling that role well recently, and he was rewarded Monday by being named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. It’s the first time the fifth-year guard has earned that distinction.

In a 2-1 week for the Sixers, Richardson averaged 22.7 points and 3.7 assists.

He scored 11 of the Sixers’ first 15 points Thursday vs. Boston shortly after the announcement that Joel Embiid was set to have surgery on a torn ligament in the ring finger on his left hand, finishing with a game-high 29 points.

“Sometimes, like in Houston, I kind of get caught up in being too unselfish and passing, which isn’t a bad problem to have,” he said. “I talked to Coach a little bit and he just said it gives our offense a different look when I’m aggressive like that. It gives people more space to work.”

Richardson hasn’t yet fulfilled Brown’s request for a higher volume of three-point shots — Brown asked the same last Monday of Al Horford and Tobias Harris, too — but his abilities to find his own shot, run the pick-and-roll with Ben Simmons and defend smaller opposing guards have been valuable. 

He's the most used and most efficient pick-and-roll ball handler on the Sixers this season, producing 0.89 points per possession out of that action.

Outside of that rough offensive night in Houston on Jan. 3 when he shot 2 for 10, Richardson has increased his level of play since telling reporters on New Year’s Eve that he thought there “wasn’t enough accountability in the locker room right now.”

With Embiid out, Richardson taking charge is an encouraging sign. 



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Brett Brown is willing to tinker as he figures out Sixers' offense, reintegrates Joel Embiid

Brett Brown is willing to tinker as he figures out Sixers' offense, reintegrates Joel Embiid

CAMDEN, N.J. — It’s difficult to glean much of value in a basketball sense from a night that was far more about honoring Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and the seven other victims of Sunday’s helicopter crash than about the Sixers’ winning a game.

As far as the Sixers’ 2019-20 season is concerned, though, Joel Embiid returning to play after missing the past nine games because of a torn ligament in the ring finger of his left hand was significant.

Brett Brown said Wednesday that the topic of reintegrating Embiid offensively was “what’s most on my mind.” The Sixers went 6-3 without Embiid, who had 24 points and 10 rebounds vs. the Warriors, though they had a 104.8 offensive rating during that stretch, 28th in the NBA. 

“I like our defense,” Brown said. “I like our spirit. This side of it we hope to grow and get it right.”

Brown had pointed out to the court on Jan. 5 and proclaimed, “This is Joel Embiid’s paint.” While it sounds like that overriding principle hasn’t changed, he seems willing to tinker offensively as he works to best accommodate Embiid, Ben Simmons and his entire team. Simmons was excellent in the absence of Embiid, averaging 21.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 7.9 assists. 

I mean, how can it not?” Brown said of whether the paint was still Embiid’s. “Does it have to be 100 percent of the time? No. We have so many capable post-up players. Go to the second play of the game … you're going to see Joel I think have D'Angelo [Russell] on him … and Ben had Draymond [Green], and Ben had a duck in and could have got it, and Joel was over on the up wing. And Ben looked at it and relinquished it, and Jo sort of went down, sort of to that Malone line, not a deep post catch. 

"So, it's still there, this thing that we're talking about, this spatial thing. … Your question is about the paint. Of course, that's Joel's. That's where his bread is buttered. Last night, I'm bringing him more to an elbow. We can see he's probably easier to go double team at that floor spot. Improving his passing is always on my mind. And so you'll see me bring him up a little bit more to an elbow and play out of that environment as well, but he obviously is our most capable post scorer.

As Brown noted, the Sixers turned to a two-man game Wednesday with Embiid at the elbow and Furkan Korkmaz working around him over and over in the second half. The Sixers have named it “JJ”, Brown said with a smile, for obvious reasons. That action with Embiid and JJ Redick was a staple of the Sixers’ offense over the last two seasons.

Though Brown liked what he saw from that look, he admitted he’s still experimenting offensively.

“We're still playing with stuff and I'm still happy to play with stuff for the next [seven games] before the All-Star break,” he said. “We got Jo back and then at some point you put your hand up and say enough's enough. We got it and we're close.

“If you made me break down how I see the world offensively, I could honestly tell you, ‘I don't like it. We need work. This is on track. This is completely on track. We'll keep it until the playoffs unfold.’ That's how I see it with Joel moving forward as it relates to him coming back in and some of the offensive things we learned from that old group.”

Scott and Horford questionable vs. Hawks 

Al Horford (left knee soreness) and Mike Scott (right knee soreness) are questionable for Thursday night’s game in Atlanta.

The Sixers are 4-0 this season without Horford. Scott hasn’t missed a game yet this year. 

Embiid had 36 points and 13 rebounds on Oct. 28 in the Sixers’ first game of the season against the Hawks, making the game-winning free throws with 5.3 seconds to go.

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Remembering Kobe Bryant's legendary reunion with his high school point guard

Remembering Kobe Bryant's legendary reunion with his high school point guard

Ideas for sports content are a bit like jump shots. Sometimes you’re Kevin Ollie and it’s brick city for days. Then once in a rare while an idea takes on a life of its own, the stars align, the hoop starts to look like an ocean, and you drop 81 and it’s a masterpiece.

That latter was the case for the segment The700Level Show did back in 2015 when Kobe Bryant played his final NBA game in Philadelphia against the Sixers.

We were lucky enough to have The Evster writing and working for the site. Evan was quite the baller in his day and was a point guard for Lower Merion back in the 90’s and teammates with Kobe during the future NBA legend’s junior year there.

It was a great idea to pair Kobe with his old high school point guard but if you’ve ever worked in the sports media world, you know you can absolutely never count on athletes to help deliver on any creative ideas you may be working on.

But you can always shoot your shot.

As you can see in the final product, Kobe and Ev’s relationship was real. The chemistry was still there decades later. All the planning and prep work in the world can’t produce that.

The final video is hilarious. It was one of those rare instances where the final product was even better than you could have hoped for.

Perhaps my favorite part of it all is similar to one my friend Ev will remember as well, “the fact that so many people said we were able to show a side of Kobe they’d never seen.”
 

Our thoughts go out to Ev and all of those affected by the tragic events in Calabasas.