76ers

Sixers 106, Mavericks 100: Sixers block out drama, return home from road trip with win

Sixers 106, Mavericks 100: Sixers block out drama, return home from road trip with win

After a long West Coast swing that included drama, illness and a clunker in Portland, the Sixers were happy to be home.

They were shorthanded and a little slow getting started, but fought off the Mavericks for a  106-100 win at Wells Fargo Center Saturday night.

With Jimmy Butler and Wilson Chandler still out with an upper-respiratory infection, the Sixers still managed to keep Rookie of the Year favorite Luka Doncic in check on their way to a victory.

Much like the game in Phoenix, the team was led by the trio of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and JJ Redick, who combined for 65 points. The win improves the Sixers to 17-3 at home and 26-14 overall.

Here are observations from the win.

• You have to give Simmons credit. The kid is at least trying. 

On the first offensive possession of the night, he took and swished a fadeaway jumper. 

He then took two more jumpers in the first half. Both were misses — one was particularly bad — but hey, it’s progress. He swished another fadeaway in the fourth quarter. That's 2 for 4 on jumpers. The only way to make them is to take them and it's good to see Simmons gaining the confidence to do so.

Overall, Simmons was assertive and aggressive. He took a team-high 12 field-goal attempts in the first half.  He also notched his sixth triple-double of the season with 20 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.

• Jonah Bolden continues to impress. Brett Brown said after practice Friday that Bolden earned regular minutes during the Sixers’ West Coast trip.

He’s doing so by supplying athleticism and activity — he had nine rebounds (three offensive) and two blocks Saturday. He also broke double digits for the first time in his NBA career with 11 points.

Defensively, his ability to switch one through five really stands out. Speaking of …

• The rookie sensation Doncic struggled mightily, going just 4 for 16 from the field for 14 points. Bolden on Friday mentioned that he had played Doncic twice last season overseas with Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv and that experience seemed to pay off Saturday night.

Brown used a combination of Bolden and Simmons on him. Not many teams have those kinds of long, athletic players that they can throw at Doncic. Even fellow rookie Landry Shamet held his own against Doncic.

• Embiid was relatively quiet, which for him is 25 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. He did produce two highlight-reel plays.

This on the defensive end.

And this pretty alley-oop from Simmons.

He also elicited "M-V-P" chants from the crowd while hitting a pair of free throws in the fourth quarter.

• Brown acknowledged the elephant in the room pregame, discussing the ESPN report that Butler “aggressively challenged” him from Friday in great detail.

Brown spoke with reporters for roughly 20 minutes and defended himself, his team and Butler adamantly (see story).

• Villanova product Jalen Brunson struggled in his return to the Wells Fargo Center, going just 4 of 14 from the field.

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Sixers' Tobias Harris narrating backyard wild turkeys is quarantine comedy gold

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@tobiasharris/Instagram

Sixers' Tobias Harris narrating backyard wild turkeys is quarantine comedy gold

Tobias Harris is separated from rookie cult hero and internet goofball Matisse Thybulle, which means he had to find other ways to populate his Instagram stories with comedy.

Enter a bunch of wild turkeys in Harris's backyard.

It's unclear where Harris is riding out the NBA's season suspension, but wherever it is, he was greeted Thursday afternoon by a few preening turkeys, a welcome sight for anyone bored of looking at the same eight things in their house every day.

Harris, of course, whipped out his phone and opened up Instagram, and started filming - and narrating - the impromptu wildlife.

You're gonna want to turn your sound on:

Is... is Harris narrating these turkeys' prospective sex lives? He definitely is, isn't he?

It's all amazing, but Harris getting spooked by the aggressive turkey at the end is an absolute highlight for me. Does he not trust the integrity of those windows?!

Again, we don't know where Harris is spending his time away from basketball, but judging by the fowl play, it might be New Jersey. The Garden State is known for its hordes of wild turkeys - there are roughly 20,000 living in the state - and the Sixers' practice facility is of course located in Camden.

Between Thybulle adding a Roomba as a pet, and now Harris's encounter with wild turkeys, it's certainly been an interesting few weeks of social distancing for the Sixers.

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Celtics' Jayson Tatum weighs in on Joel Embiid-Nikola Jokic best center debate

Celtics' Jayson Tatum weighs in on Joel Embiid-Nikola Jokic best center debate

Boston Celtics star guard Jayson Tatum has caused some headaches for the Sixers over the last few years, and will likely continue to do so, but it seems he has a healthy respect for his Philadelphia rivals.

Tatum, who kept busy during social distancing Wednesday night with an Instagram Live, was first asked about the best player in the league, and then asked for his MVP pick, two classic questions - he called LeBron James the best player, and said James was going to win MVP.

Then things got a little more interesting.

Tatum was conducting the IG Live with Pep Stanciel, a basketball skills coach who has worked with NBA players in the past, and Stanciel managed to get Tatum to name the league's best player at each position.

Here's Tatum's all-league starting lineup, per NBC Sports Boston:

Point Guard: Stephen Curry
Shooting Guard: James Harden
Small Forward: LeBron James
Power Forward: Anthony Davis
Center: Joel Embiid

You're not going to hear a lot of complaints about that list from NBA fans, though I bet the most objections would wind up with Embiid as the starting center.

The argument over the NBA's best center has been a hotly-contested topic for a couple years now, with the emergence of Embiid and Nikola Jokic as two position-breaking stars who can sort of do it all. 

Embiid is an unstoppable, bullying presence in the paint who puts opponents in foul trouble and dominates the rim on the defensive end. Jokic is a visionary passer who uses his height and creativity to his advantage, both in the half-court and in transition. 

They're both fantastic, and just different enough that the basketball world has sort of reached a stalemate on who is an all-around better center.

Is Tatum showing his Eastern Conference bias, considering he faces Embiid more often? It's certainly possible. But Embiid is also just really, really good.

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