76ers

Sixers 116, Bulls 96: After sleepy start, Sixers take care of business

Sixers 116, Bulls 96: After sleepy start, Sixers take care of business

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It was a bit of a sleepy start, but once the Sixers woke up, it wasn't pretty for the Bulls.

The Sixers broke their season-high three-game losing streak and took care of business in a 116-96 win at Amway Center Saturday night.

With the win, the magic number to clinch the Eastern Conference's third seed is one. A Celtics' loss against the Magic Sunday would do the trick.

It's also the Sixers' 50th win, securing back-to-back 50-win seasons for the first time since 1984-85 and 1985-86.

Jimmy Butler (back tightness) missed his second straight game.

Here are observations from the win.

• He was a game-time decision coming in, but Joel Embiid played in his 64th game Saturday, the highest mark of his young career. Considering the way things started and the injury issues he’d had, it’s great to see.

He got off to a bit of a slow start, but once the Sixers got it to him more on the block late in the second quarter, he started to impose his will. It helped the Sixers turn a one-point deficit into an eight-point lead at the half. He had 14 points on 7 of 11 shooting at halftime. He finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three blocks in 27 minutes.

• It was a weird first half for Ben Simmons. He was efficient, scoring eight points and making 4 of 6 shots, more than he took in the entire Milwaukee game. It looked like he left more opportunities out there. This is the type of team he should feast on. The Bulls have nobody that can match his athleticism and no true rim protector. It almost looks like he’s a little gun-shy right now.

You had to like this finish, which he made with his “off hand.”

There also looks like there is something there with the Embiid-Simmons pairing. We didn’t see it against the Bucks, but the chemistry showed up in this one.

Simmons had 14 points, four rebounds and four assists.

• Maybe the biggest shame of the Sixers’ recent losses — aside from the losses themselves — is the JJ Redick performances they’ve wasted. He’s been fantastic over his last 15 games, averaging 19.2 points and shooting 45 percent from three coming in. He finished with a team-high 23 points on 4 of 7 from three and 8 of 12 overall.

He also made this ridiculous shot.

It's amazing how routinely he hits shots like that. How many guys in the league can? If this is the version of Redick the Sixers get in the playoffs, it would be a huge boost.

• Neither backup center had an inspiring effort on the defensive end, but both looked good on the other end. Boban Marjanovic had trouble keeping veteran Robin Lopez in front of him but was his usual effecient self, scoring 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting. Jonah Bolden struggled at times playing more at the four, but he's shown enough that Brett Brown should feel comfortable playing the rookie there and allowing Tobias Harris to slide to a wing in the playoffs. He also hit three threes.

Newcomer Greg Monroe saw his first action as a Sixer. He recorded nine points in 10 minutes.

• The curse of Sam Hinkie was alive and well as Process Sixer JaKarr Sampson got off to a hot start. He had 17 points on 6 of 10 from the field before halftime. He finished with a career-high 29 points and was the only reason the Bulls were in this game at any point. The only other Chicago player in double figures was our old friend Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, who had 14 points.

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Knicks targeting Elton Brand as GM? Sixers 'very happy' with him, per team source

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Knicks targeting Elton Brand as GM? Sixers 'very happy' with him, per team source

The Knicks could be looking within the Sixers' organization during their GM search.

Team president Leon Rose has reportedly “targeted” Sixers GM Elton Brand for the same role with the Knicks, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. The report went on to say that Rose would wait to see if Brand, 41, would be let go after this year’s playoffs.

It’s a little hard to imagine the Sixers parting ways with Brand despite the team underperforming this season. Though his big moves of stealing Al Horford away from the Celtics, acquiring Josh Richardson in a sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler and signing Tobias Harris to a near-max deal haven’t panned out, the organization seems to be high on Brand.

A team source on Wednesday confirmed Brand is under contract beyond this season and said the organization is very happy with his work since being named GM in 2018. The source cited Brand's leadership and strong working relationships with players, agents, and executives around the league.

That's in line with what managing partner Josh Harris told NBC Sports Philadelphia back in October.

“When the Bryan Colangelo situation occurred, we went through a really long search to try to figure out who was the right person for the job of general manager,” Harris said. “Obviously, [Brand] hadn't been in the front office very long, but all of his strength as a leader and his intelligence and his ability to communicate and his history with the game and with our team and with our city. All those things really were very large in the decision. …

“… and he's increasingly putting his insignia, his imprint on the team, and it's really great. I mean, today's NBA is a player's league. He was an All-Star player not that long ago. He's a really unique person. So I'm really happy that we're working together.”

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Which era of Sixers basketball would make the best documentary?

Which era of Sixers basketball would make the best documentary?

The Sixers are a franchise rich in history and, let’s face it, rich in drama.

With ESPN moving up the release of The Last Dance, a documentary about the dominance of Michael Jordan and the Bulls in their last Finals run, it sparked an interesting debate on the Sixers Talk podcast.

Which era of Sixers basketball would you most like to see a documentary on?

Co-hosts Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick both made the case for Dr. J, Moses Malone and the teams of 1980’s … but for very different reasons.

Don’t get me wrong,” Hudrick said, “some of The Process stuff would be great to get some behind-the-scenes nuggets of what was going on there with some of the decisions that were made and getting some answers to the questions that we’ve all had. …

“[In a documentary on the 1980’s team] we can all go back and watch and see, ‘Oh, Dr. J, he won a championship.’ But to get that context of there were people who were doubting him and then he proved them all wrong. It’s little stuff like that you don’t know about until you go and watch [a documentary] like that.

Pommells agreed with wanting to see something on that era, but wasn’t nearly as interested in reliving The Process years.

To hell with The Process. I ain’t trying to watch nothing on that. I lived through it, I experienced all these little idiosyncrasies. I think once the Bryan Colangelo thing happened, that completely let me know that I was over it, past it, finished with it, ready to move on — because I’m just exasperated at this point. …

“It would be a black eye on the Philadelphia sports landscape.

Do you agree with Pommells? Would you rather see something on the Allen Iverson-led teams? Or way back in the Wilt Chamberlain-Hal Greer days?

For more on the debate, check out the full Sixers Talk podcast below.

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