76ers

Sixers at Cavaliers: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

Sixers at Cavaliers: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

At 36-22, the Sixers are a half-game behind the Heat for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

They play the 16-41 Cavaliers Wednesday night in Cleveland, while Miami will host the Timberwolves.

Below are the essentials for tonight’s game. 

When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

Here are three storylines to watch:

‘Next man up’: Shake Milton 

Shake Milton and Ben Simmons both are 23 years old and have 7-foot wingspans. Outside of that, the two don’t have much in common as players.

Monday night, Milton took Simmons’ place as the Sixers’ starting point guard and had seven points, six assists, a steal and a block in 26 minutes. After sliding into the lineup when Josh Richardson was out with a hamstring injury, it looks like he’s going to do the same thing with Simmons sidelined by a nerve impingement in his lower back.

“He’s really taken an incredibly unlikely path. … In general, he can guard better than I originally thought,” Brett Brown said Monday. “I think he’s got some legit point guard thinking in his psyche. I think he can guard multiple positions in the backcourt.”

The 54th pick in the 2018 draft, Milton has already experienced significant back, finger and knee injuries as a professional. A two-way player as a rookie, he earned an NBA contract by performing well in the G League and generally appearing like he belonged at the NBA level. This upcoming stretch without Simmons — however long it is — may very well be be the biggest opportunity he’s had.

“I just feel like it's my job to be ready,” he said. “Whatever the team wants me to do. I feel comfortable on the ball, I feel comfortable off the ball. If somebody goes down, you don't want to see injuries, but it's next man up and I just try to play the role.

No Embiid vs. Drummond matchup

We won't get a Joel Embiid vs. Andre Drummond matchup tonight, since the Cavs center is out with a left calf strain.

The two have a history of trash talk and entertaining duels, with Embiid holding a 6-1 advantage over Drummond and averaging 27.7 points and 10.3 rebounds against him. 

Without Drummond, Cleveland will presumably start Tristan Thompson. The Cavs have still played Thompson 25.2 minutes per game off the bench since acquiring Drummond. 

An easy schedule … in theory

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Sixers have the third-easiest remaining schedule in the NBA. 

While that should make playing without Simmons somewhat less challenging, the thought of simply winning a road game sounds difficult right now. The Sixers haven’t done that since Jan. 20, when Simmons was brilliant against the Nets with a 34-point triple-double.

The team returns home for a game Thursday vs. the Knicks, then heads West for a four-game trip that begins with games against the Clippers and Lakers. 

The Cavs are actually 2-1 since J.B. Bickerstaff took over for John Beilein as head coach, and they topped the Heat on Monday. That said, this is an opponent the Sixers should beat, regardless of where the game is being played. 



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Joel Embiid stars, Russell Westbrook struggles in Sixers' NBA2K simulation win over Rockets

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NBCSP

Joel Embiid stars, Russell Westbrook struggles in Sixers' NBA2K simulation win over Rockets

Give virtual Russell Westbrook credit for one thing — he never stopped shooting.

Westbrook put up 28 shots Tuesday night in NBC Sports Philadelphia’s NBA2K simulation of the Sixers’ game vs. the Rockets, missing 22 of them in a 72-47 Houston loss (eight-minute quarters). 

Here are a few observations on the Sixers’ 2K win: 

Not Westbrook’s night 

Westbrook’s 21.4 percent mark from the field was his worst a Rocket. Shake Milton guarded him well, sagging off and encouraging Westbrook to shoot while also not allowing him to accelerate on drives toward the rim.

Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni left Westbrook in for the bitter end of the blowout, apparently not concerned with giving one of his best players a little rest. 

Coming up big 

Though it took the Sixers a few minutes to get comfortable with the Rockets’ style, Houston was always going to be vulnerable against Joel Embiid and Al Horford. The Rockets don’t play a true center, which meant players like P.J. Tucker and Austin Rivers were guarding Embiid. He took advantage, scoring 24 points (22 in the paint).

Horford was effective down low, too. He hit his first four shots and had the Wells Fargo Center crowd very much on his side.

There was even a Horford Fathead visible in the stands early in the second quarter.

Thybulle is not a point guard 

It’s nitpicking in a game in which the Sixers were very strong across the board, but 2K Brett Brown’s insistence on using Matisse Thybulle as a backup point guard remains perplexing.

Sure, the Sixers don’t exactly have an excess of capable ball handlers with Ben Simmons injured, but Josh Richardson, Alec Burks and  Furkan Korkmaz would seem to be better suited for that job.

Thybulle's defense was excellent, as usual. 

What’s up with the blimp? 

Sixers fans were obviously very excited during the action, enjoying Embiid’s dunks and Westbrook’s woes. They were generally quiet during timeouts, however, which is one reason why we couldn’t help but notice that a large Sixers blimp — seemingly close to the size of an entire section of fans — floated around during breaks in the action. The blimp is certainly a curious addition to the game presentation experience. 

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Sixers Talk podcast: Dr. J, A.I., The Process and our best Sixers moments

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NBCSP/USA Today Images

Sixers Talk podcast: Dr. J, A.I., The Process and our best Sixers moments

On this edition of Sixers Talk, we debate which era of Sixers basketball we'd like to see a documentary on, our top Sixers moments and much more.

• Would you rather see a doc on the 80's Sixers or Process Sixers? (8:09)

• What if the Sixers didn't draft Markelle Fultz? (17:59)

• We pick our top three Sixers moments (33:56)

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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