76ers

Sixers at Nets: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

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Sixers at Nets: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

The Sixers (6-4) are looking for their first road win of the season in Brooklyn when they take on the Nets (3-6) Sunday.

The Nets will have their hands full with Joel Embiid while the Sixers will have to look out for Brooklyn’s barrage of three-point attempts and an emerging young player.

Here’s a dive into the matchup.

• Joel Embiid has been a monster. Since recording a season-low 10 points against the Hawks, Embiid is averaging 37 points, 13.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. With that said, it’s mind boggling that more teams haven’t adopted the strategy former Sixers assistant and current Atlanta head coach Lloyd Pierce used in doubling Embiid on every touch (see story).

For the season, Embiid is averaging 29.6 points, 12.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.3 blocks. Only Hall of Famers Bob McAdoo, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal have recorded those averages. That’s pretty elite company.

• Brett Brown gives his players the green light to shoot threes. Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson is waving a checkered flag for his players to fire treys. 

Through nine games, Brooklyn is attempting the fifth-most threes in the NBA. But unlike last season when they finished 20th, the Nets are connecting on 38.8 percent of their threes, also good for fifth in the league.

They’re led by Joe Harris (59 percent on 5.1 attempts), D'Angelo Russell (40 on 6.1) and Spencer Dinwiddie (40 on 5.8).

• The Sixers' rotation will be interesting to monitor over the coming weeks. 

Wilson Chandler is back on a limited basis but rookie Landry Shamet is earning meaningful minutes by making shots and displaying excellent basketball IQ (see story). Dario Saric is struggling while Mike Muscala is giving the Sixers solid run off the bench and has closed out the last two games at the four.

The national media harped on the losses of Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova. Once Chandler gets healthy and up to speed, it should be apparent that the Sixers were wise to let Belinelli and Ilyasova sign multi-year deals elsewhere.

• Considering Brooklyn hasn’t had their own first-round pick in what feels like a decade, they’ve done a decent job finding a few players that look like keepers. 

Caris LeVert may be the best example of that. Originally drafted in the first round by Indiana, the Pacers traded him to the Nets for former Sixer Thaddeus Young. LeVert has been excellent this season, looking like a real candidate for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award. He's a streaky shooter but he's athletic and crafty around the rim.

On the young season, he leads Brooklyn with 20 points per game while also posting 4.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists. 

Below are the essentials for Saturday’s matchup:

When: 6 p.m. EST 
Where: Barclays Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia (Pregame Live starts at 5:30 EST)
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the MyTeams by NBC Sports app 

Roster
Jerryd Bayless, G, 6-3/210, No. 0 
Jonah Bolden, F, 6-10, 220, No. 43  
Wilson Chandler, F, 6-9/225, No. 22 
Robert Covington, F, 6-9/225, No. 33 
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
Dario Saric, F, 6-10/250, No. 9
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

* Two-way player

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Joel Embiid out at least a week

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Joel Embiid out at least a week

The Sixers’ new, much-hyped starting five will be down a key member coming out of the All-Star break. 

Joel Embiid will be out at least a week with left knee soreness, the team announced Wednesday.

He had an MRI that revealed no structural damage and will undergo treatment involving load management and physical therapy before being re-evaluated. 

Embiid, who started his second straight All-Star game, is averaging 27.3 points, 13.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Head coach Brett Brown still considers him the Sixers' "crown jewel."

With the playoffs in mind, you can understand the team's caution with Embiid.

The Sixers’ first game after the All-Star break is Thursday vs. the Heat, with four games scheduled over the next eight days.

There were two other notable inclusions on the Sixers’ medical report:

Furkan Korkmaz suffered a tear of the meniscus in his right knee during the Sixers’ game against the Celtics on Feb. 12. He is currently being assessed and there is no timetable for his return yet.

Rookie Zhaire Smith was a partial participant in the Sixers’ practice Wednesday. He’ll return Thursday to practice with the Blue Coats as he continues to rehab following a Jones fracture in his left foot in August and subsequent medical complications stemming from an allergic reaction. General manager Elton Brand has said he expects Smith to return to play this season. 

How far can the new-look Sixers go?

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How far can the new-look Sixers go?

The Sixers currently sit in the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. While they'll likely overtake the Victor Oladipo-less Pacers, they still have the Bucks, Raptors and Celtics to contend with.

Unfortunately for the Sixers, they've only managed one win against the East's top three teams — and that was against Toronto without Kawhi Leonard.

But with the Sixers overhauled roster just four games into this iteration, things could be different down the stretch and in the playoffs.

Today, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Paul Hudrick and Noah Levick discuss just how far they think the new-look Sixers can go in this year's postseason.

Monday, they looked at who should be part of the Sixers' playoff rotation (see story).

Tuesday, they broke down what it would take for the Sixers to finally beat Boston (see story).

Hudrick

You can’t say with certainty that the Sixers are the best team in the conference based on what we’ve seen so far.

But that was then and this is now.

When you look at the talent the Sixers have throughout their starting five and how much better their bench matches up compared to last year, a trip to the Finals isn’t crazy to think about.

While depth is important, it becomes less imperative as you reach the postseason and your best players are nearing 40 minutes a game. Just take a look at last year’s Warriors and what they averaged: Draymond Green (39), Kevin Durant (38.4), Klay Thompson (37.8) and Stephen Curry (37). You’d have to imagine DeMarcus Cousins will also hover around that number this season.

Sure, the Sixers lost to the Celtics at home without Kyrie Irving in the lineup, but that was just the team’s third game together with its revamped roster. The Sixers have 24 games to make all the pieces fit and adjust to how Boston, Toronto and Milwaukee are going to play them.

While the starting five looks more dominant than last season's, the bench also appear more playoff ready. Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova were huge for the bench at the end of the regular season last year, but they were exposed in a big way by the physicality and athleticism of the Celtics in the playoffs. 

That shouldn’t be an issue with Mike Scott, James Ennis and Jonathon Simmons. They also have more options with two centers — Boban Marjanovic and Jonah Bolden — that present two different matchups and with the ability to use Jimmy Butler at the backup point if T.J. McConnell appears overmatched.

Really, the East looks wide open. With that said, this team has the talent to reach the NBA Finals. The sky is the limit ... if the sky is Golden State.

Levick

Home-court advantage is going to matter. The Sixers, Bucks, Raptors and Celtics all have at least a 74.2 winning percentage at home, and given how closely matched those teams are, the difference between Game 7 at a raucous Wells Fargo Center and Game 7 at T.D. Garden might wind up being significant.

The prospect of long, physical series is less daunting for the Sixers this year than it was last postseason. When their stars go to the bench, the Sixers now have viable defensive options in Mike Scott, James Ennis and Jonathon Simmons. None of those names are flashy shutdown defenders, but they’re solid options who won’t be helpless.

It’s an overused term, but Zhaire Smith fits the “X-factor” description better than most. There’s a good chance the rookie doesn't see any time in the playoffs. There’s also a shot he sparks the Sixers with a couple of eyebrow-raising dunks and excellent perimeter defense. As we wait for Smith to make his debut with the Blue Coats, it certainly wouldn’t be reasonable to expect such contributions quite yet.

Surrounded by Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick, the pressure is off Ben Simmons to carry a major scoring load. While it would be great if he could regularly knock down jumpers, it’s not going to happen this season. He just needs to do what he does well — push the ball as much as possible, distribute it to his teammates and score efficiently inside. His free throw shooting, especially late in games — he’s 50 percent from the line in the fourth quarter — remains a concern. 

The Sixers absolutely could win the Eastern Conference. It’s also possible that, as a new team with under 30 games of regular-season experience together, they falter against an inferior opponent or still can’t solve Boston.

Matchups, home court, how everything comes together in the home stretch — it’s all going to be important. Regardless, anything less than a highly competitive Eastern Conference Finals series for the Sixers would be disappointing. And, if we’re being honest, even that would sting if the Sixers don’t win it. 

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