76ers

Mike Scott wants focus to remain on racial equality but thinks NBA jersey idea is 'terrible'

Mike Scott wants focus to remain on racial equality but thinks NBA jersey idea is 'terrible'

As the Sixers have made more players available leading up to the NBA’s attempt at a restart, we’ve gotten a little perspective on the idea of the “bubble” and playing games with no fans in Disney World.

Players have talked about the global pandemic and protests against racial inequality and police brutality continuing in the country. While there’s been a couple concerns raised, you can’t help but wonder if we’re getting the players’ true feelings on the entire situation.

If there’s one thing we’ve come to know about Mike Scott, it’s that you’ll never be left wondering what he was thinking after he speaks. In a video conference call with reporters Monday, Scott voiced serious concerns over returning to play.

Yeah,” Scott said when asked if it’s hard to get excited to play again. “Just trying to change your mentality from what’s going on and being with your family and making sure they’re safe and racism, coronavirus, and then turn and switch it on to go to Orlando and playing basketball. Easier said than done.

"Most people would [think] it should be pretty easy, just think about basketball, but I don’t know, man. It’s tough. Just thinking about it after what’s gone on the past couple months. I’ve been dealing with that and just trying to work out every day, get my mind ready for Orlando, but at the same time how can you not look and focus on everything else that’s going on? It’s definitely tough.

While always honest, Scott is generally one of the more positive players on the team. He’s always good for a quote that’ll get people talking and for his brutally honest assessments of how he played.

Monday’s media session was sobering. It was obvious in the 15 or so minutes that he spoke with reporters that he still has a lot of raw emotion in the wake of the death of George Floyd and similar incidents that have occurred around the country.

A lot of anger, disappointment,” Scott said. “Just questioning a lot of stuff like, ‘What’s going on in this world? How can people be so evil?’ Just a lot of anger, man. Mostly just anger. Using my platform … I’m more reserved, laid back, and I’m more of let’s just do it instead of just talking about it. Just go out there and just do it. … There was a lot of anger and [I'm] still angry.

Health and safety concerns are paramount to the NBA’s return, but so too is making sure that in a league made up of predominantly Black athletes, the voices of the players are heard. Several players expressed concern of an NBA return taking away from racial equality causes. 

The league will reportedly try to help players “call attention to racial equality, social justice and police brutality.” “Black Lives Matter” will reportedly be painted on all three courts in Disney World, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Zach Lowe.

Another step the league is reportedly taking is allowing players to have messages on the back of their jerseys instead of their last names. The phrases come from an approved list of 29 agreed upon by the NBA and NBPA, per Marc J. Spears of ESPN's The Undefeated.

Scott isn’t sure what the best way to keep spreading these messages is, but he’s not a fan of the jersey idea. He wishes the players could’ve had more input.

They gave us some names and phrases to put on the back of jerseys,” Scott said. “That was terrible. It was a bad list, bad choice. They didn’t give players a chance to voice their opinion on it. They just gave us a list to pick from. That was bad. That’s terrible. Just voice your opinion, how you feel. 

“I don’t know how you can use your platform. I don’t know. Vote. Of course, vote. See what laws we can change. But I’m all about just doing, instead of just saying or posting or putting something on the back of your jersey. I don’t think that’s going to stop anything. I don’t know how you do it. I don’t know.

While Scott is glad to have his teammates to lean on, he still can’t help but be affected by what’s happening outside his own bubble.

“A lot of dialogue with teammates and coaches, especially with Tobias [Harris],” Scott said. “He’s been keeping us together and me and him have been talking every day about what’s going on in the world. It’s just a lot of frustration. Just a terrible time, a crazy time right now.”

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Sixers injury update: Ben Simmons has subluxation in left patella

Sixers injury update: Ben Simmons has subluxation in left patella

The injury Ben Simmons sustained in the Sixers' win Wednesday night over the Wizards is a subluxation of the left patella. He's out for the team's game Friday night against the Magic and treatment options are being considered, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Serena Winters.

Simmons exited Wednesday's game in the third quarter after throwing a pass for Al Horford. He immediately flexed his left knee and headed to the locker room.

The 24-year-old made his second All-Star team this season and has averaged 16.4 points, 8.0 assists and 7.8 rebounds. The Sixers shifted him to power forward in their new starting lineup, and he was open to the change.

"You've just gotta work with different things,” he said on July 14. “You’ve gotta try different things out, see if they work. We’re not at a stage where we can be comfortable yet. I’m still trying to figure it out myself ... what feels comfortable, what’s right for this team and how we’re gonna win. 

“If it’s this way, then I’m all for it. I’ve been having fun in that position — whatever you guys say, the four — whatever it is. But at the end of the day, when you see me I’m on the floor, I’m making plays."

He'd missed the Sixers' final eight games before the NBA's hiatus with a nerve impingement in his lower back but recovered from that injury and said he felt explosive heading into the restart. 

Without Simmons, Brett Brown will have a few options to replace Simmons in the starting lineup, including original starting power forward Al Horford and wings Matisse Thybulle and Furkan Korkmaz.

Mike Scott (right knee soreness) and Glenn Robinson III (left hip pointer) will both participate in the Sixers' practice Thursday after missing the team's first three seeding games. 

This post will be updated.

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2020 NBA playoffs: Looking at where Sixers sit in Eastern Conference picture

2020 NBA playoffs: Looking at where Sixers sit in Eastern Conference picture

Though they’re calling “seeding games,” the Sixers’ primary concern in the contests leading up to the playoffs is not seeding.

“How do you go into the playoffs … how can you go into that date feeling like we’re the best we can be?” Brett Brown said on July 12. “Worrying too much about moving up because you could play this team or avoid that team, I stay away from that.” 

Through three games at Disney World, Brown wishes the Sixers were playing at a higher level. The team has gone 2-1, but that record includes a fourth quarter in which the Sixers allowed the Pacers to score 46 points, a game-saving shot from Shake Milton vs. the Spurs and a win over the 24-44 Wizards that was tight until the end. Ben Simmons exited Wednesday’s game against Washington early with a left knee injury

It’s been slower coming than I would’ve thought,” Brown said Wednesday. “I liked our practices, I thought … the preseason games you saw at times a dominant defense. We’ve started these three games, I think, very inconsistently. I think we do some good things offensively, defensively, and then you see head-scratching stuff. It hasn’t gone as quickly as I had hoped. But I see where I think it can end. 

“We’re still figuring out some things with how we’re playing the team and Shake (Milton) coming in and so on. But I think, for the most part, we’re trending in the right direction, just not as quickly as I wished.

Here's where the Sixers sit in the Eastern Conference: 

3. Boston Celtics 45-23 GB: 9 
4. Miami Heat 43-25 GB: 11
5. Indiana Pacers 42-26 GB: 12
6. Sixers 41-27 GB: 13 

Boston technically still has a chance to surpass the Raptors for the No. 2 seed and the Sixers aren’t eliminated from contention for the No. 3 seed, but both outcomes are very improbable. Kemba Walker sat out the latter half of a back-to-back Wednesday, a 149-115 Celtics win over the Nets, as the All-Star guard works through a left knee issue. After playing Toronto on Friday night, the Celtics will face Orlando, Memphis and Washington.

The current No. 4 and No. 5 seeds play each other twice in the remaining seeding games, which should be interesting. The Heat’s other opponents are the Bucks, Suns and Thunder, while the Pacers’ are the Suns, Lakers and Rockets. Before the NBA’s hiatus, Miami was 2-0 against Indiana. In case you were curious, T.J. Warren hasn’t dropped off much after his 53-point performance vs. the Sixers. He leads all scorers at Disney World with 39.7 points per game. 

Despite having the sixth-easiest strength of schedule, the Sixers don’t have great odds of rising. Basketball Reference’s Playoff Probabilities Report gives them a 72.8 percent chance at the No. 6 seed, 23.0 percent at No. 5 and just 4.1 percent at No. 4. Those probabilities are intuitive when you consider the Sixers have lost their season series vs. the Heat and Pacers. 

The Celtics are the Sixers’ most likely first-round opponent at the moment by a good margin, which would potentially leave the Sixers a path of Boston-Toronto-Milwaukee. One could make the argument that such a road is best for the Sixers, since the team won its season series over Boston, 3-1, and wouldn’t have to face the top-seeded Bucks until the Eastern Conference Finals, but nothing’s going to be easy for a No. 6 seed. 

We analyzed the Celtics, Heat and Pacers as possible first-round opponents for the Sixers here

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