76ers

Sixers Notes: Joel Embiid's X-rays negative; Simmons starstruck in win

Sixers Notes: Joel Embiid's X-rays negative; Simmons starstruck in win

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DALLAS — Joel Embiid wrapped up his Saturday night with an X-ray and the results were positive … for both him and the Sixers.

Embiid suffered a right-hand contusion during the Sixers' 112-110 win over the Mavericks and the team got a closer look at the hand afterward. The results of the x-ray came back negative.

In the win — the Sixers' first in Dallas since Jan. 29, 2005 — Embiid played more than 39 minutes, including eight in the fourth quarter, and was on the court at the end for the game. He scored 23 points, with nine rebounds and four assists.

The Sixers practice Sunday and more information about Embiid's hand will be available then.

No spoilers this time
The Sixers were just days removed from a buzzer-beating loss to the Rockets and after extensively studying late-game film, they weren’t about to let it happen again against the Mavericks.

Again, the Sixers found themselves trying to cling to the lead as time wound down. This time, it was different.

The Sixers were forced to clamp down on defense as seconds ticked away and then pulled away with the win.

“It was one of the same types of situations that we let them get back into the game instead of finally putting them away,” Robert Covington said. “That’s a game of runs, but in this game, we learned how to close. We knew that we had to lock in and get the stops that we needed. It’s unfortunate that we put ourselves in that situation, but it’s part of what’s going to help us grow as a team.” 

Brett Brown saw progress in specific areas from Wednesday’s loss, including finding Embiid more often and improving inbounding the ball. He recognized there still is much work to be done with the experience on the roster.  

“It’s the evolution of this young team,” Brown said. “You’re never satisfied. Somewhere probably tomorrow you’re going to realize you won, but there’s always things you wish you could have done better.”

Unconventional defense
In addition to Embiid’s statistical highlights, he also committed seven turnovers and accounted for half of the Sixers’ team total.

The Mavericks stifled Embiid with a zone defense that factored into some of those errors. That approach posed different challenges than when he was guarded one-on-one by Nerlens Noel. 

“Against Dirk (Nowitzki), it was more of a zone,” Embiid said. “That’s something I haven’t seen since college. I wouldn’t say that was the cause of all my turnovers, but I just got to do a better job of it. It was different.”

Appreciating a future Hall-of-Famer 
Ben Simmons is only 21 years old, but he doesn’t get taken aback by a lot of players in the league. After all, he has developed a close relationship with LeBron James and sees his opponents as his peers.

Nowitzki, however, is one of the exceptions.

“That’s awesome,” Simmons said of competing against the 20-year veteran. “I kept telling JJ (Redick) actually when he was on the bench, ‘That’s Dirk. That’s Dirk.’ That’s special.”

Embiid has his own kind of appreciation for Nowitzki, too. They got to know each other through a Basketball Without Borders trip and are in a group text together. The last time they spoke before the Sixers' trip to Dallas was just one week ago. 

“He’s a good friend,” Embiid said. “I call him one of my big brothers. … That was my first time playing against him and playing against a legend like him is always good. I wanted to do his move against him. I almost did it, but the ball got stripped. But it was a great battle.”

Raining threes
The Sixers and Mavericks weren’t shy from the three-point line. The Sixers made 16 (45.7 percent) while the Mavericks netted 19 (47.5 percent). Those were the top-two totals around the league Saturday. Harrison Barnes hit 7 of 12. Dario Saric led the Sixers with four treys and Covington and Embiid were right behind with three apiece. 

The long-range shooting makes it easier for the Sixers’ point guards to find recipients of open looks. 

“It opens up the floor so much more, gives you driving lanes,” T.J. McConnell said. “Then when people collapse, you’re reversing the ball and that’s when the ball starts moving and it becomes easier.”

Not just a reunion for Noel
Justin Anderson returned to the American Airlines Center for the first time since being traded for Noel in February.

The game was overshadowed by Noel’s matchup with Embiid, but Anderson was dealing with his own feelings about facing his former team. 

“Man, it was weird,” Anderson said. “The biggest thing I kept beating myself up about is, it’s not about me. As much as I wanted to make it about me, as much I felt as though I made so many relationships, so many friends here, and people were like, ‘Justin’s coming back to play in Dallas,’ well, Nerlens was playing against his old team. It wasn’t about me.

"On my way to the gym, I let it all go and said I’m going to go out there and do everything I can to help our team win. Sure enough, we came out with a W.” 

Anderson appeared in 106 games for the Mavericks over parts of his first two seasons. 

2018 NBA draft rumors tracker: Could the Sixers move down?

2018 NBA draft rumors tracker: Could the Sixers move down?

We’ve spent a lot of time talking over the last few weeks about the possibility the Sixers trade up in the draft, possibly into the top 5. 

But what if they trade down? 

That scenario was brought up this afternoon by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who makes it seem like that No. 10 pick could be in demand. 

If the Sixers trade out of the top 10, it would be pretty surprising based on the chatter leading up to the draft. And it probably wouldn't be a very popular move in the eyes of most fans. But perhaps they're anticipating a scenario where the player they'd take at 10 would be available later. In that case, it would obviously make some sense to trade back and add more value. 

Earlier in the day, a report from The Athletic surfaced that said the Sixers had internal discussions about possibly involving Markelle Fultz in a package to move up and get Michael Porter Jr. in the top five (see story)

The draft begins at 7 p.m. tonight from Brooklyn and Draft Central: Sixers begins at 8:30 on NBC Sports Philadelphia. 

Here’s everything else you need to know about tonight’s draft. 

Top 6
Here's how the top six picks should shake out, according to Woj.

Spurs are listening
A slight update on the Kawhi Leonard drama in San Antonio. 

Perhaps the most interesting part of that is that the Lakers and Spurs haven’t talked about Kawhi yet. That’s a little surprising because many think the Lakers might be the frontrunners to land the disgruntled superstar. 

The Sixers might still have a chance to trade for him. It’s fair to wonder if they’re on that board. 

Buyout for Dwight Howard 
It wasn't all that long ago when Howard was considered one of the top big men in the league and a prized acquisition. Those days are gone. 

Howard will be a free agent soon enough.  

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Report: Sixers thought about packaging Markelle Fultz and picks to go top 5

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Report: Sixers thought about packaging Markelle Fultz and picks to go top 5

As you buckle in for what might end up being a pretty wild NBA draft night, there’s already a bit of news that’s bubbled to the surface. 

This possible trade might be dead, but according to The Athletic’s Michael Scotto, the Sixers internally batted around the idea of packing last year’s No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz, along with No. 10 and 26 to move up into the top five.

That would qualify as a pretty huge move. And it’s interesting, considering the Sixers are reportedly reluctant to include Robert Covington or Dario Saric in a deal.

The target of this possible move to the top five? 

“The target was (Michael) Porter during these discussions,” Scotto writes.” However, that thinking dampened with Porter’s back remaining a major question mark. If JJ Redick leaves in free agency, Fultz is the favorite to start at shooting guard.”

That’s certainly interesting. 

Porter is a pretty big question mark heading into draft night. He’s talented and the Sixers’ obviously really like him as a player, but it seems like no one is sure what to make of his back, which needed surgery in November. 

The top of Scotto’s mock draft is full of juicy nuggets like that involving possible trades. 

Eventually, Scotto has the Sixers taking Villanova’s Mikal Bridges at No. 10, a move that would make plenty people very happy. He then has them taking Grayson Allen at 26 before going back to Nova to draft Jalen Brunson at 38. 

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