76ers

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

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

After suffering their first home loss of the season Wednesday night to the Heat, the 20-9 Sixers host the 18-9 Mavericks on Friday night.

Star guard Luka Doncic is sidelined for Dallas with a right ankle sprain.

Here are the essentials:

When: 8 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 7:30 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: 

Reliant on rebounding

The Sixers, who have the top rebounding percentage in the NBA (53 percent), have been outrebounded in only six of 29 games this season.

They’ve lost five of those games, including the last two.

While the extreme nature of those numbers is due, in part, to random chance — there are games the Sixers have won with a one-rebound advantage and games they’ve lost with a one-rebound disadvantage — it does indicate how much they depend on their rebounding.

When they’ve held a rebounding edge, the Sixers have usually been able to overcome a high-turnover night or a poor performance from three-point range. When they haven’t, those issues have tended to be costly. 

Beware of the Mavs’ bench 

The magnificent Doncic isn’t the only reason the Mavs are 18-9. Dallas’ bench is outscoring opponents by five points per game, the best margin in the league.

Villanova product Jalen Brunson, who’s replaced Doncic in the starting lineup, is having a solid sophomore season, averaging 8.1 points, 3.4 assists and 1.1 turnovers per game. As a team, the Mavs are best in the NBA at taking care of the ball (12.6 turnovers per game) and have the No. 2 assist to turnover ratio (1.95)  

Boban is back 

The most beloved 7-foot-4 athlete in Philadelphia history is back in town.

“I really enjoy being one of the fans’ favorites,” Boban Marjanovic said in May at his exit interview. “When I hear [the fans], your blood gets warmer and you’re in the game and ready to go.”

Marjanovic might not play tonight — he’s only appeared in 11 of Dallas’ first 27 games after leaving the Sixers to sign a two-year, $7 million deal with the Mavs this summer — but the jovial giant should still be a fan favorite, at least as much as an opposing player can be in Philadelphia. 

Even after moving to Dallas, Marjanovic has maintained his unique relationship with Tobias Harris, as ESPN’s Tim Bontemps detailed.

Marjanovic has his pregame playlist ready to go. 

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Jerry Stackhouse tries to set record straight on scrimmages with 17-year-old Kobe Bryant

Jerry Stackhouse tries to set record straight on scrimmages with 17-year-old Kobe Bryant

At 17 years old, Kobe Bryant was scrimmaging against professional athletes and Philadelphia college stars, about to embark on a 20-year NBA career.

He impressed in those scrimmages with his skill and bravado. But, according to Jerry Stackhouse, Bryant wasn’t big on passing. 

Stackhouse, now the head coach at Vanderbilt, spent the first two-plus years of his career with the Sixers before being traded to the Pistons and matched up with Bryant in those scrimmages.

What happened with Kobe was nobody really wanted to play with Kobe,” he said on The Woj Pod. “[Former La Salle star and NBA player] Lionel Simmons, you used to always see him pulling Kobe to the side, like, ‘Man, you gotta pass the ball! You gotta learn how to do this!' Because the older guys were from Philly. … These stories kind of take on a life of their own. And yes, Kobe had some good days scoring the ball, because he could handle it so well. But he had tunnel vision at that point. You had pickup games, sometimes he didn’t even get picked up. 

“But again, because he’s so been great since this, these stories go back of ‘Oh, he beat Stackhouse one-on-one.’ Come on, man. Me at 20 years old, can you imagine a 17-year-old beating me consistently? I’d have hurt him first, real talk. Just physically, that could never happen to me. Did we play one-on-one? Yes. Did he beat me, did he maybe win a game? Yes. Did he consistently beat Jerry Stackhouse at 20 years old when he was 17? Hell no. I’m putting an end to that story. … Was he super talented and everyone saw great potential in him? Yes, but those scenarios … of Kobe Bryant, they’re a little bit of a different story when you go talk to people that were actually in the gym. 

Stackhouse noted that it took a little time for Bryant to adjust to the NBA game, which is true. The Lower Merion High School graduate played only 15.5 minutes per game as a rookie. Of course, he went on to make 18 All-Star Games, win five NBA championships and become one of the best players of his era. 

Though Stackhouse wanted to set the record straight on those one-on-one games with Bryant, he was still amazed by his ability at such a young age.

“This kid was unbelievable,” he said. “Just his ball handling ability … he grew up, obviously, emulating Michael Jordan.”

However, the members of the Philadelphia basketball community who were in the gym for those scrimmages were apparently ruthless in their critiques.

“I vividly remember the old heads from Philadelphia,” Stackhouse said, “[they're] like, ‘Come on, man, you gotta pass the ball! That ain’t how you gotta play!’” 

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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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Sixers fans can't stop laughing at Bulls for interviewing Bryan Colangelo

Sixers fans can't stop laughing at Bulls for interviewing Bryan Colangelo

Sixers fans, grasping at any semblance of basketball news, received a cruise ship-sized life line on Wednesday.

The Athletic's Shams Charania reported the Bulls have interviewed former 76ers president Bryan Colangelo for their top basketball ops position:

This is, of course, kind of a mind-boggling decision from the Bulls, considering the way Colangelo's bumpy tenure in Philly ended. 

You know, Burner-gate. Remember that insanity? Remember when the active general manager of the 76ers was linked to Twitter accounts actively disparaging his own players? That really happened!

And yet, despite the public unraveling of his time with the Sixers, and the unsavory nature of his resignation, the Bulls somehow deemed Colangelo worthy of an interview for this position as they try to kickstart their floundering franchise.

Sixers fans couldn't believe it:

Some laughed, and laughed, and laughed:

Some encouraged the insanity, because there's nothing Sixers fans love more than watching a tire fire form in real time:

And then, of course, Sixers Twitter came with the jokes, because they are ruthless and unceasing:

Colangelo actually landing the job is, admittedly, probably a long shot. But the fact that he could even garner an interview at this point in his career, and after his last stop, is both hilarious and confounding.

And Sixers fans are here for it, entirely.

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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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