76ers

Pistons 133, Sixers 132 (OT): No answer for Blake Griffin in gut-wrenching loss

Pistons 133, Sixers 132 (OT): No answer for Blake Griffin in gut-wrenching loss

BOX SCORE

Wow.

After JJ Redick hit a rainbow, and-one three to give the Sixers a lead with 5.6 seconds left in overtime, Blake Griffin got an and-one bucket of his own at the rim to hand them a 133-132 loss. Joel Embiid missed the potential go-ahead three-pointer at the buzzer.

Griffin scored a career-high 50 points as the Sixers’ modest two-game win streak was halted and they were kept winless away from the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers are now 2-2 on the season.

What happened in the Joel Embiid-Andre Drummond clash? How did Markelle Fultz look at the point?

We’ve got it all right here in our observations.

• The Sixers had to stop one guy all night long and couldn’t do it.

Griffin went bonkers right from the opening tip. He scored 28 points in the first half alone and didn’t cool down after intermission.

He shot 20 of 35 for those 50 points and added 14 rebounds to go with six assists.

At some point you have to slow down the one-man show. Not this time.

• While Griffin spent the game making a personal highlight reel, the frontcourt battle to watch was always going to be Embiid-Drummond.

The two have shared words before, but supposedly squashed their beef.

“It's never hard feelings,” Drummond said last season. “When was the last time you seen two real big men go at it? It was just a great matchup, I look forward to playing him again. Obviously a hell of a player. I have nothing negative to say about him.”

Well, Drummond might change his tune after Tuesday night. Embiid dominated the matchup yet again with 33 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks in the loss. He also wasn’t shy about letting Drummond know he got the upper hand, especially when he got Drummond ejected in the fourth quarter.

But Drummond, who had 14 points and 16 boards, got the last laugh with his first win over Embiid.

• Fultz made his first NBA start at point guard with Ben Simmons sidelined because of back tightness.

It was clear very early on that Fultz is simply more comfortable at the one spot. The 20-year-old was able to have the ball in his hands and control the Sixers’ offense, instead of just drifting around the perimeter waiting for the action to come his way.

Fultz was able to pick and choose his spots as he knifed through lane for shots at the basket, pulled up from midrange and even splashed another three-pointer.

He tied a career-high 13 points on 6 of 9 shooting to go along with six boards.

It’s actually a little bittersweet of a performance because Fultz was glued to the bench down the stretch and when Simmons returns to the lineup, the second-year pro will again go back to searching for his role. 

Obviously, Simmons is a generational talent and needs to have the ball to operate. But the Sixers must figure out a way to get Fultz some run at the point too without throwing off the team’s rhythm.

• With Simmons already out, Embiid picking up his second foul less than three minutes into the game was far from ideal for the Sixers.

However, the team’s bench was able to pick up the slack. Brett Brown employed a lineup of mostly reserve players for chunks of the first quarter. He used four bench guys with Robert Covington and then went with an all second-unit group of T.J. McConnell, JJ Redick, Landry Shamet, Mike Muscala and Amir Johnson.

Those guys more than held their own as they actually outscored the starters 15-13 and helped the Sixers win their first opening quarter of the season, 28-27.

• Covington’s night will be remembered for that critical foul on Griffin with 1.8 seconds left in OT, but that shouldn’t wash away a solid effort.

Always aggressive on defense, Covington’s offensive game finally matched in this one. 

No, all of the shots did not go in. Still, he came out on the attack as the swingman went to the basket more times than I’ve witnessed during any game in recent memory.

He ended with 16 points (3 of 4 on three-pointers), eight rebounds and a pair of assists.

This is the version of Covington the Sixers need to see every night.  

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Which Sixer has the most to gain in 2019-20 season?

Which Sixer has the most to gain in 2019-20 season?

With training camp getting closer, there are plenty of topics to discuss involving the 2019-20 Sixers. Running the Give and Go are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Paul Hudrick and Noah Levick.

In this edition, we ask: Which Sixer has the most to gain this season?

Hudrick

There are a few strong candidates — including the guy Noah has below — but to me, Josh Richardson has the most to gain.

Richardson is an ascending player that just turned 26 on Sunday. He was a key cog in Erik Spoelstra’s rotation because of his defensive abilities. He’s long and versatile, a perfect combination for the Sixers’ starting unit. His defense should shine alongside the Sixers’ elite defensive pieces. He’ll be tasked with guarding ones, but it’s a challenge he should be able to handle and excel with.

During last season in Miami, Richardson took on a much bigger offensive role. While at times he shined, it was clear that he’s not meant to be a team’s No. 1 option. He won’t have to be that for the Sixers. The space he should get with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons should help immensely. Richardson also did well in dribble handoffs, something that was a staple of the Sixers’ offense with Embiid and JJ Redick. Brett Brown can explore the Richardson-Embiid two-man game with Redick’s departure to New Orleans.

One of Richardson’s most attractive qualities is his contract. The Heat have some pretty horrendous deals against their cap, but Richardson’s signing was likely their shrewdest. He’ll make $10.1 million this season and $10.8 million in 2020-21, per Spotrac. That’s a relative steal for a wing player of his capabilities. He has a player option for 2021-22 and that's where he has the most to gain. If Richardson performs well and helps the Sixers make a deep playoff run, his value should be extremely high as a 29-year-old free agent.

Levick 

As far as contracts are concerned, there aren’t many obvious candidates for players with the most to gain. Backup point guards Raul Neto and Trey Burke, big man Kyle O’Quinn and young players Furkan Korkmaz and Jonah Bolden might qualify on the basis of not having any guarantees beyond this season, but I’m not going with any of those players.

I think Tobias Harris has the most to gain for the Sixers this season, even if he did sign a five-year, $180 million contract this summer. This isn’t about the money, though. 

With Jimmy Butler gone, Harris will now likely be looked to as the Sixers’ primary perimeter scoring option. He won’t need to carry the entire offensive load — Ben Simmons is dangerous in transition and improving in the post, Joel Embiid is dominant down low, Al Horford can do a little bit of everything and Josh Richardson averaged 16.6 points per game last year. But Harris now has the go-ahead to be the best version of himself offensively.

“I just wanted to adapt,” he said on July 12 about his role after joining the Sixers last season. “Not to be complaining about comfort or whatnot. I just wanted to be that guy who puts everything to the side and it’s about winning. Was that hard for me? Not hard for me with who I am, but for my own game, it was hard.”

Before joining the Sixers, Harris was among the top 20 percent of the league as a pick-and-roll ball handler in points per possession for four straight seasons, per NBA.com/Stats. I expect the Sixers to try to cater toward Harris’ strengths more this year. I also think it’s logical to predict Harris will shoot closer to his 42.6 percent mark from three-point range over 87 games with the Clippers than the 32.6 percent he shot from long range with the Sixers.

There’s no money to be gained for Harris, but a first All-Star appearance would be meaningful. It’s a very realistic possibility. 

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Sixers to host Blue X White Scrimmage at 76ers Fieldhouse in Delaware

Sixers to host Blue X White Scrimmage at 76ers Fieldhouse in Delaware

In what’s become a tradition, the Sixers will host their annual Blue X White Scrimmage on Oct. 5.

Your first chance to see the new-look squad will come at the 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington, Delaware, home of the team’s G-League affiliate, the Blue Coats.

In years past, it’s also been an opportunity for the fans to see the players in a more laid-back setting. The players that have been here have enjoyed participating.

They’re great. Our players get it,” team president Chris Heck said to NBC Sports Philadelphia. “Our players understand how important Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley is to the 76ers and they’re excited to get the season started. We open training camp on Oct. 1, and this will be the first chance for anyone in the area to see our players play in what we think will be a very exciting and winning season for the 76ers.

There are an awful lot of new players to see, including two-fifths of the starting lineup with Al Horford and Josh Richardson coming on board. It will also be the fans' first chance to see rookie first-round pick Matisse Thybulle and veteran pickups Kyle O’Quinn, Trey Burke and Raul Neto live as Sixers.

Part of the reason for the move to Delaware is to accommodate the demand for tickets. The 161,000-square-foot-complex held its first Blue Coats game on Jan. 23, and has also held Cardi B and O.A.R. concerts, plus large-scale corporate events and local high school graduations, in addition to youth camps and weekly academies for basketball, soccer, lacrosse and volleyball.

As the team has continued to improve, the need for more space has heightened.

It has grown in the sense where it’s harder and harder to provide as many seats to the demand that’s out there,” Heck said. “It was really important for us to move it down to Delaware this year because our fan base in the first state is so strong and so close to Philadelphia as well. This is the perfect opportunity to re-launch the Fieldhouse, by bringing Joel Embiid, Al Horford, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and the likes of all our team, including Brett Brown, back down to Delaware to launch our season.

The event is definitely fan- and family-focused. It will have an entire fan zone that will feature inflatable games, face painters, balloon artists and additional carnival games. Fans can also participate in an NBA-style combine. They can also win prizes from Chick-fil-A and TruMark Financial, receive free haircuts for their kids by Maestro’s Classic and register their children ages 4 to 14 for the 76ers Kids Club, presented by Five Below.

The Fieldhouse features indoor and outdoor, multi-purpose artificial turf fields, Titus Strength and Condition Center and Nemours Center for Sports Medicine.

If you’re looking to score tickets, you must sign up for the SixthMan Fan newsletter. More information on how to secure tickets will be communicated through the SixthMan Fan newsletter in the coming days. Both Sixers’ and Blue Coats’ season ticket members will receive access to a presale featuring a limited amount of free tickets. 

The Sixers are expecting a game-like atmosphere.

I think it will be exactly what it’s like during any of our games and any time our players are a part of the community — which will be loud and fun and energized and positive,” Heck said. “That’s why I think this city and the Delaware Valley as a whole has embraced the 76ers so much over the last several years. We are a team that represents the community and that’s fun.



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