76ers

Raptors 113, Sixers 102: Turnover-prone Sixers overmatched by Raptors yet again

Raptors 113, Sixers 102: Turnover-prone Sixers overmatched by Raptors yet again

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Another game in Toronto and another turnover-ridden loss.

The Sixers looked overmatched yet again and turned the ball over 21 times Wednesday in a 113-102 loss to the Raptors at Scotiabank Arena.

The loss drops the Sixers to 17-9 on the season and snaps their four-game winning streak. They still haven’t won in Toronto in over five years.

• Joel Embiid struggled against all three of the Raptors’ centers, especially Jonas Valanciunas. Embiid finished with just 10 points on 5 of 17 shooting, while Valanciunas scored 26 points in just 17 minutes.

You can see the frustration grow throughout the game with Embiid and it culminated in a technical foul in the fourth quarter. You have to give credit to the Raptors who played him tough. 

Embiid did have 12 rebounds, five assists and two blocks.

• After turning the ball over 23 times back in their Oct. 30 loss, the same issue reared its ugly head, even with Jimmy Butler — who was outstanding — in the fold. You simply can’t turn the ball over that much against an elite team on the road. Toronto’s defense really stifled the Sixers all night.

• The Sixers didn’t have Butler the last time these teams met and the four-time All-Star certainly made his presence felt. He was brilliant, finishing with a season-high 38 points and taking over for a stretch in the third quarter.

This type of tough and-one finish is what a guy like Butler brings.

The offensive chemistry between Butler and Ben Simmons continues to grow as well.

Butler’s brilliance on both ends wasn’t enough to overcome the team’s turnover woes.

• Simmons was better than his 11-turnover performance last time in Toronto, but he wasn’t the assertive player we’ve seen recently. 

He was playing more free and confident against former Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard but still struggled with Leonard’s elite length and instincts. 

This behind-the-back pass to Jimmy Butler was a beaut though.

Simmons finished with eight points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds but also turned the ball over seven times.

• Speaking of Leonard, he killed the Sixers on both ends tonight. He’s looking like the player that’s finished in the top three in MVP voting twice in his career. He looks well on his way to doing so again … if he doesn’t just win the thing.

He had 36 points.

• Lost in how great Butler, Embiid and Simmons are is the brilliance of JJ Redick.

The Sixers had played 10 games with Butler coming into the night. In that span, Redick is averaging 19.1 points while shooting 50 percent from the field and 39 percent from three. 

Redick was spectacular again tonight with 26 points.

• The bench has been a weak spot for the Sixers and it looked overmatched against the Raptors’ second unit. The athleticism Toronto brings off the bench with OG Anunoby, Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet far exceed what the Sixers have. Valanciunas’ big night gave the Raptors a 41-18 advantage.

T.J. McConnell gave the Sixers energy and five steals but also contributed to the turnover issues with five. Mike Muscala gave them a little jolt, playing tough defense and pulling down eight rebounds.

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Sixers will begin phased reopening of practice facility Wednesday

Sixers will begin phased reopening of practice facility Wednesday

The Sixers will begin a phased reopening of their practice facility in Camden, New Jersey, on Wednesday for voluntary, individual workouts, the team announced.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Tuesday that professional sports teams in New Jersey are now permitted to resume training and competition, which opened the door for the Sixers.

NBA teams had been allowed to hold individual workouts for players beginning on May 8 with strict restrictions in place. Because of coronavirus-related restrictions imposed in New Jersey, the Sixers hadn’t been among the teams holding workouts. However, general manager Elton Brand did say that Ben Simmons had been allowed to use the team’s practice facility to do rehab work for a nerve impingement in his lower back.

“Ben and others have been given permission to use our facility,” Brand said on May 5. “It’s essential that they have the proper equipment to workout and rehab, so he’s been doing that ever since the first week. We were able to get him access there. Joel Embiid’s been working out. He’s conditioning, he’s focused, he’s asking about when his trainer can come in, when he can get on the court.

"So I wouldn’t bet against him. He’s going to be ready and ramped up. Tobias [Harris] is a similar situation. He’s been getting treatment on and off. Most of our players are in market, by the way. Tobias is in market and he’s been getting treatment also.”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe reported last week that teams expect the league to issue guidelines around June 1 on recalling players who have left their markets, and for workouts to expand around the same time.

The NBA announced Saturday that it is engaged in “exploratory conversations” about resuming the 2019-20 season at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, in late July. The season has been suspended since March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

On May 15, head coach Brett Brown said he thought a three-week ramp-up period would likely be sufficient before returning to play. 

“The notion of how the players come in influences kind of everything,” Brown said. “The three-week thing I think can be achieved as long as the fitness base of the players coming in is at the standard that I’m saying,” he said. “With that … I feel comfortable that we could go play basketball again.”

Though the team's facility reopening for individual workouts is not a massive step, it does appear that the NBA is moving toward a resumption. Wojnarowski has reported that, "barring something unforeseen," the widespread expectation is that commissioner Adam Silver will clear a return in June. 

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2020 NBA free agency: 6 bigs the Sixers could target this offseason

2020 NBA free agency: 6 bigs the Sixers could target this offseason

Another big man may not be high on the priority list for the Sixers this offseason, but a lot can change between when/if the season resumes and when next season starts.

Will the Sixers try to move Al Horford’s contract? Does the team trust Norvel Pelle to take on a bigger role next season? Would Kyle O’Quinn consider returning after he reportedly asked to be waived?

Here are six bigs that could fit the Sixers in free agency depending on how everything shakes out.

Marc Gasol

Gasol is most known around these parts for being a thorn in Joel Embiid’s side. A former Defensive Player of the Year, Gasol is big, smart and physical — a combination that has caused Embiid serious difficulty. He’s not the offensive player he was in his prime, but he can still shoot it (40.2 percent from three), pass it (3.4 assists) and is an excellent screen setter.

At 35, it will be interesting see what kind of offers Gasol will get. The only scenario in which the Sixers would likely be able to make it work is if they successfully trade Horford and his massive contract. Is it worth taking a shot on Gasol with the team’s mid-level exception? With the Sixers having other pressing needs, it’s a tough call. Gasol would make an excellent Embiid backup and mentor.

Aron Baynes

Baynes had a solid run in Boston and was having a strong season in Monty Williams’ system in Phoenix. The Sixers were the first team to experience Baynes’ evolution as a three-point shooter in the 2018 playoffs. He was hitting 35 percent on over four attempts a game before the 2019-20 season was suspended. He also has proven to be a solid post defender and screen setter.

This is going to be all about what Baynes’ preferences are. If he wants to get paid like a starting center, the Sixers aren’t the team for him. If he’s willing to accept a backup role to Embiid on a lesser deal, there’s a possibility. It seems more likely Baynes could find a better situation, but he’d be a solid option for the Sixers if he can’t.

Alex Len

Len hasn’t lived up to the status of being the fifth overall pick, but he’s become a solid rotational NBA big. His career numbers per 36 minutes are solid: 14.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.8 blocks. Though he struggled to hit threes this season, he’s had some success for a big (33 percent for his career).

Still just 26, there could be a team that views Len as having a higher ceiling. Being so young, he also could value playing time and money over being a reserve on a contender. Like Baynes, if he can’t find a better situation, the Sixers could do worse in a backup center.

Noah Vonleh

Vonleh is another top-10 pick that hasn’t quite panned out but has shown he can be a serviceable NBA player. After a strong campaign for the Knicks in 2018-19, Vonleh had a tough year for the Timberwolves. He was eventually shipped to the Nuggets in that crazy four-team deal ahead of the trade deadline.

Signing Vonleh would be similar to when the Sixers signed O’Quinn this past offseason. He won’t have a definitive role but could be a nice insurance policy if there are injuries and Pelle struggles. Though he’s only 24, the price shouldn’t be high given his struggles in Minnesota this season.

Dario Saric

If you’re reading this, you should know all about this guy. Saric hasn’t been the same player since he was dealt to the Timberwolves in the Jimmy Butler trade. Still, he’s played a solid role for Williams in Phoenix. Saric has flashed the combination of skill and grit he did here, but his lack of athleticism has limited him.

Saric is a true four. Though you could get away with using Saric as a small-ball five in certain lineups, you wouldn’t want him back there for an extended period of time with a true NBA center. Saric did love his time here and played the best basketball of his NBA career. He's a restricted free agent so the Suns would likely have to rescind his rights for the Sixers to have a chance. If the price is right, you can’t rule out a reunion.

Markieff Morris

The Philly native was having a good year in Detroit before being bought out and signing with the Lakers. He’s struggled with his shot during his eight-game stint in L.A. but was hitting just below 40 percent of his threes with the Pistons. Morris plays with an edge and could bring that physical style and attitude back home.

Morris could be repetitive with Mike Scott already signed for next season. Though Scott struggled this year, he’d come on a bit before the season was suspended and looked more like the player we saw during last year's playoff run.

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