76ers

Sixers at Hornets: Live stream, storylines, game time, more

Sixers at Hornets: Live stream, storylines, game time, more

Jimmy Butler sure made his presence felt in his home debut Friday night.

Now the Sixers are faced with a back-to-back situation as they head to Charlotte to take on the Hornets Saturday.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup.

• How could we start this about anything other than Butler? He was fantastic in his first home game as a Sixer, giving the raucous crowd at Wells Fargo Center plenty to cheer about. It was a playoff-like atmosphere in last night’s win over the Jazz (see observations).

We’re still in the honeymoon phase but Butler is showing he fits on and off the court so far. He even loves the victory music (see story).

• Joel Embiid had a weird night last night. He got himself into foul trouble and missed virtually the entire third quarter but came up huge in the fourth. He scored 13 of his 23 points in the final period.

He also revealed that he played with his hand hurting early in the first quarter. The weird part is that Embiid revealed it’s the same issue he’s had dating back to December of last year during a road game in Phoenix. He was quick to say, “I’m playing” when asked about his status vs. the Hornets.

His right hand did appear swollen after the game, but he looked fine during his big fourth quarter. This will just be something to keep an eye on if Embiid starts favoring his shooting hand.

• Brett Brown said after the game last night that he felt Ben Simmons had the “biggest adjustment” to make with Butler in the fold (see story). Simmons has been fairly quiet in the two games since Butler got here. Though he appeared more aggressive last night, he’s averaging just 9.5 points and has taken just 14 shots in the last two contests combined.

Part of this is by design. Brown said that Simmons has to now evolve into a true point guard, where before Butler’s arrival he was counted on to provide scoring as well as facilitating. Ultimately this could be the best thing for Simmons, as there will be less pressure on him to shoot. At the same time, you don’t want him to lose his aggressiveness offensively.

• After watching Donovan Mitchell jack up a ton of shots Friday, the Sixers will be tasked with containing Kemba Walker. As we’ve seen in the first two matchups against the Hornets, Walker has no conscience. He’s really become one of the elite scorers in the league.

Walker struggled early in Charlotte’s OT loss at the Wells Fargo Center last week, but did have a monster fourth quarter. The Sixers also didn’t have Butler in that one, who held Mitchell to 13 of 35 and no assists last night. 

While the Sixers’ have installed a more switch-heavy scheme this season, it was interesting after the game to hear Brown say Butler wanted to stay with Mitchell and that the coaching staff let him. I’d imagine it’ll be the same deal with Walker tonight. Butler’s elite on-the-ball defense has been evident already.

Here are the essentials for tonight’s game.

When: 7 p.m. EST 
Where: Spectrum Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia (Pregame Live starts at 6:30 p.m. EST)
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the MyTeams by NBC Sports app

Roster
Jonah Bolden, F, 6-10, 220, No. 43 
Jimmy Butler, F, 6-8, 236, No. 23 
Wilson Chandler, F, 6-9/225, No. 22 
Joel Embiid, C, 7-0/260, No. 21 
Markelle Fultz, G, 6-4/200, No. 20 
* Demetrius Jackson, G, 6-1/200, No. 11 
Amir Johnson, F/C, 6-9/240, No. 5 
Furkan Korkmaz, G/F, 6-7/185, No. 30 
T.J. McConnell, G, 6-2/190, No. 12 
* Shake Milton, G, 6-6/205, No. 18 
Mike Muscala, F/C, 6-11/240, No. 31 
JJ Redick, G 6-4/195, No. 17 13
Landry Shamet, G, 6-5/190, No. 23
Ben Simmons, G/F, 6-10/230, No. 25 
Zhaire Smith, G, 6-4/200, No. 8
Justin Patton, C, 6-11/229, No. 0

* Two-way player

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Sixers vs. Blazers: 3 storylines to watch and how to live stream the game

Sixers vs. Blazers: 3 storylines to watch and how to live stream the game

The Sixers (38-21) match up against the Portland Trail Blazers (35-23) on Saturday afternoon. Both of these teams look very different since their last meeting in Portland back on Dec. 30, where the Blazers steamrolled the Sixers, 129-95.

Here are the essentials for the Saturday matinee:

• When: 1 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m.
• Where: Wells Fargo Center 
• Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
• Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch.

Bobi

One of the things that remains the same is the Sixers are without Joel Embiid, who is resting with left knee soreness. But this time around, the Sixers have Boban Marjanovic, who is expected to start in his place. In Thursday night’s win over Miami, Marjanovic finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Brown said his tolerance level is "wide" with Marjanovic, as they best figure out how to utilize him in the rotation. The biggest challenge is when opponents go small and are effective in pick-and-roll situations (as the Blazers are). Saturday will be another test.

Twin towers

Without Embiid in the lineup, the Sixers will have their hands full down low, as Enes Kanter made his Blazers debut on Thursday night against the Nets. Kanter finished with 18 points and nine rebounds in 20 minutes, backing up Jusuf Nurkic, who recorded 27 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Jonah Bolden, who finished scoreless in his 15 minutes Thursday night, will have another opportunity to show what he can do on Saturday.

Tobi vs. Blazers

It appears that Tobias Harris likes matching up against Portland. In his last two games against the Blazers while a member of the Clippers, Harris averaged 36.5 points and 11 rebounds, shooting 66.1 percent. Not too shabby.

Might he go off again on Saturday?

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Why Sixers feel well-equipped to deal with unique Zhaire Smith situation

Why Sixers feel well-equipped to deal with unique Zhaire Smith situation

CAMDEN, N.J. — Brett Brown knows all about lingering injuries, hazy timelines and young, talented players working their way back into game shape.

Zhaire Smith’s situation — while certainly unusual, with the added layer of medical complications stemming from an allergic reaction — is not foreign to him.

With the Blue Coats set to face the Maine Red Claws on Friday night, Smith took part in the Sixers’ light, early-afternoon practice. It was his second official practice with the team. He was assigned to the Blue Coats on Jan. 24 and has been primarily practicing and working out in Delaware. 

“At the start, he did some low-minute cardio,” Brown said. "It’s great to see him sort of run around. … There is a bounce. There really is a bounce. He looks good physically. When that translates into him playing G-League-type stuff, I still don’t have any comment on that. But it’s great to see him run around.”

Smith, acquired by the Sixers in a draft-night trade with the Suns, suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot in August, then had a serious scare with an allergic reaction to sesame, per a team source, a previously undiscovered allergy (see story). He lost significant weight as a result. 

While general manager Elton Brand said on Feb. 7 the Sixers’ moves at the trade deadline did not alter his expectation that Smith would play this season, Brown has been more cautious with his public statements.

Given the Sixers’ recent history, you can understand why he wouldn’t expect a rapid recovery.

What I do have confidence in, and it’s not for a great reason, is we have so much practice over the years with having injured players be out for a significant amount of time. I think that historically we’ve gotten better. We’ve learned from back in the day when we had — pick ‘em — Nerlens [Noel] and Joel [Embiid] and keep on going, Jahlil [Okafor] for that period, and Markelle [Fultz] — just on and on and on and on about long — Ben Simmons — long injuries. I feel like Zhaire has reaped the benefit of studied work, thoughtful work on how do people learn, what’s the environment that can still inspire and educate as there’s clearly disappointment on not being able to play basketball. … How much of that do you feel like he’s absorbed? It’s hard to guess. I think you do know when you start seeing him play. 

Unlike the names Brown mentioned, Smith has spent time with the Blue Coats. It’s a resource the Sixers don’t want to overuse, but for a player like Smith with a raw offensive game who played power forward at Texas Tech, time practicing and playing in the G-League makes sense. 

“We’ve learned that bouncing back and forth is not the way to do it,” Brown said.

Yet Furkan Korkmaz yo-yoed between Delaware and Philadelphia plenty last season. Jonah Bolden has gone up and down a few times this season. 

Brown said it’s ideal for a player to have at least two consecutive weeks with one team, either the Blue Coats or the Sixers, though he treats each player’s situation differently.

Smith is a unique case, but for a team that’s dealt with injury after injury after injury to its rookies, he’s not an unprecedented one.

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