76ers

Sixers 106, Cavaliers 99: It wasn't pretty, but Sixers take care of business vs. Cavs

Sixers 106, Cavaliers 99: It wasn't pretty, but Sixers take care of business vs. Cavs

BOX SCORE

Well, a win is a win.

It sure wasn't pretty, but the Sixers took care of business in a 106-99 win over the lowly Cavaliers on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Cleveland, fresh off a big win over Toronto, was missing Kevin Love (rest) and Marquese Chriss (suspension). The Sixers were without Jimmy Butler (rest).

The victory moves the Sixers to 43-25 on the season and keeps them ahead of the Pacers and Celtics for the Eastern Conference's third seed.

Here are observations from the win.

• What a weird start to this game. The Sixers were sloppy early, turning the ball over nine times in the first quarter … but they held a 24-12 lead after one.

Unfortunately, the lackadaisical play caught up to the Sixers as the Cavs flipped with the script with a 35-29 second quarter.

The Sixers dominated in every category but the turnover battle, which they lost, 21-7. It's the only reason this was even a game.

• These are the types of teams Ben Simmons feasts on and he did just that. It was good to see Simmons get back to being aggressive and looking for his own shot. He cashed in on a few difficult opportunities around the rim. He was physical at the basket and the Cavs had trouble matching that physicality.

At times, it felt like Simmons was the only one giving the Sixers any life. He finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and just two turnovers. He also continues to hit his free throws, going 7 for 10.

• That 33-point performance against the Pacers Sunday was incredible, but you can tell there’s still a little rust with Joel Embiid. He had four turnovers in the first quarter, six overall. Give some credit to Cleveland’s Ante Zizic, who was able to force a couple of those turnovers. It also looked like JJ Redick and Embiid were having trouble connecting in their normally lethal two-man game. Two dribble handoffs between the duo turned into turnovers.

You could tell Embiid was just trying to feel his way through this one offensively, recording 17 points on 6 of 16 shooting. But his defense sure is a big help as he came down with 19 rebounds and blocked four shots — including a huge one on Zizic with the Cavs trailing by just three with under a minute left.

 • The supposed “tournament” between James Ennis and Jonathon Simmons doesn’t appear like it’s very competitive at this point. Ennis got the start in place of Jimmy Butler and he shined.

He was matched up against rookie Collin Sexton, who is lightning quick and has given the Sixers trouble before. Ennis did pick up three fouls in the first quarter, but did a solid job on Sexton overall.

Offensively, his movement away from the basketball stuck out on Tuesday. When you’re surrounded by so much offensive talent, you’re going to get some easy looks. You just have to capitalize and Ennis did so, pouring in 12 points on 6 of 7 shooting.

He also continues to show off that "quiet athleticism" Brett Brown has referred to.

• Boban Marjanovic made his triumphant return to the court and looked like he hadn’t missed a beat. Marjanovic, who’s been out since Feb. 25, scored a bucket on his first touch. 

Best friends away from the court, Tobias Harris and Marjanovic have a real chemistry on it. Running a pick-and-roll is about timing and chemistry, and both players seem to have an idea of how to navigate it together.

Marjanovic was matched up against sharpshooting veteran Channing Frye. That’s not an ideal matchup for either player, but Marjanovic was able to get the better of it as Frye was cold from three and Cleveland felt the pain of not having a rim protector.

• Brown after practice Monday alluded to the fact that Redick may be getting a rest night soon. It looks like he may need it. Redick’s shooting woes continued, as he went 6 of 15, although he did go 4 of 7 from three. Coming into the game, Redick was shooting 31 percent from three and 30 percent overall since the All-Star break.

• The Cavs are terrible, but man, Collin Sexton can really play. The rookie point guard, coming off a 28-point performance against the Raptors Monday, scorched the Sixers for 26 points on 11 of 20 from the field. The Sixers have had trouble stopping quicker guards this year and Sexton gave them a hard time tonight.

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It sounds like Brett Brown has a long-term plan without Ben Simmons in mind

It sounds like Brett Brown has a long-term plan without Ben Simmons in mind

Updated: Tuesday, 5:09 p.m.

We now have a diagnosis on Ben Simmons' injury. Simmons suffered a nerve impingement in his lower back and will be re-evaluated in two weeks, a team source confirmed Tuesday to NBC Sports Philadelphia (see story). Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium first reported the news.

Speaking before the Sixers' win Monday night over the Hawks, head coach Brett Brown was unsure how long the injury would sideline Simmons. The 23-year-old sustained the injury at practice Wednesday going up for a rebound, according to Brown, and irritated it in the first quarter of Saturday night’s game against the Bucks.

“I don’t know,” Brown said. “And it really is like how long is a piece of string — who knows? Who knows? … Whatever the time equals on days, games, period of time, we can talk more honestly as this thing shakes out.”

However, it sounded as if Brown was preparing for his two-time All-Star point guard to be out for a while. He framed the situation as one the Sixers can cope with if other players take advantage of the chance to play expanded roles.

There’s 25 games left. … It’s an eternity,” he said. “Just keep going back to the end game. What’s the bottom line? I’ll say it again — if you get their health and their spirit, it’s got a chance to equal form. … And it’s all about landing the plane. And so with 25 games left, we’ve taken a hit with Ben. 

"I do see it this way. I’m not spinning it. It’s an opportunity for us to learn and something will emerge. And we need something to emerge. It’s not like we were all saying, ‘Oh, here it is, it’s anointed.’ It wasn’t that. So, I think we’re going to learn something and find something. If this was six games out, I wouldn’t be telling you this story. When it’s 25 games out, it is, with all my heart, what I think. That’s what I said to the team, that’s what I really think and that’s what I’m going to try to pull off.

Who specifically will take over ball handling duties? Brown said it “will be done by committee” for the time being, and he named a few players who he expects to be in that mix. Monday night, the team started Shake Milton, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford and Joel Embiid. 

“The candidates could be Raul Neto or [Furkan Korkmaz] or Alec Burks or J-Rich, Shake," he said. "So, you have capable people that aren’t traditional point guards but have the ability to get the ball up the floor. Then at that point, you’re probably going to have to be in something that has motion and continuity instead of just giving Chris Paul the ball and saying, ‘Go to work’ out of a pick-and-roll, as an example.”

Regardless of Brown’s attitude, the tangible impact of not having Simmons will clearly be significant. He leads the league in steals, has assisted on the most three-pointers and is a highly athletic, versatile and talented player.

The loss of all those attributes will no doubt be difficult to overcome.

“When there is a vacuum, as there is right now with Ben, something will happen,” Brown said. “Somebody will step up. I’m trying to see the world through those eyes, and I really do — it’s not even creative coach speak. I see it as an opportunity, and I think I need to see it that way.”

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Sixers injury update: Ben Simmons suffered nerve impingement in lower back

Sixers injury update: Ben Simmons suffered nerve impingement in lower back

Ben Simmons suffered a nerve impingement in his lower back and will be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks, a team source confirmed Tuesday to NBC Sports Philadelphia. Simmons will undergo daily treatment. 

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium first reported the news. 

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports “there's little expectation that [Simmons would] be ready to return to lineup that soon,” and says “doctors are hopeful treatment can drive improvement, but Sixers are preparing to play without him." 

According to head coach Brett Brown, Simmons was first injured at the team’s practice last Wednesday. The 23-year-old All-Star missed the team’s first game after the All-Star break, a win Thursday over the Nets. 

“It was a play where he went up for a rebound and I looked over and he left the court, and went and got treatment,” Brown said Thursday. “And it has played out as it has played out. We don’t believe it’s anything too significant.”

Simmons sat out the Sixers’ game vs. the Nets on Thursday and played Saturday in Milwaukee. He appeared to be in discomfort after drawing a foul in the first quarter on the Bucks’ Brook Lopez. The 23-year-old stayed in the game to make 1 of 2 free throws, then exited when Matisse Thybulle committed a foul to create a stoppage of play and ensure Simmons could return to the locker room.

Ahead of the game against the Bucks, Simmons had averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 assists, 7.9 rebounds and a league-best 2.2 steals. He’d played 36.3 minutes per game, most on the Sixers and third-highest in the NBA ahead of Saturday’s games. 

Brown talked before the Sixers’ win Monday over the Hawks as if he was prepared for a long-term absence. He said the team would split up ball handling responsibilities by committee, with Shake Milton, Josh Richardson and Alec Burks among the possible candidates. Milton started on Monday. 

The 36-22 Sixers are fifth in the Eastern Conference and play the Cavaliers on Wednesday night in Cleveland. 

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