Sixers notes, quotes and tidbits: Focus is 'not just all Boston at all'

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Sixers notes, quotes and tidbits: Focus is 'not just all Boston at all'

Not that a reminder was necessary, but JJ Redick showed again during Friday’s end-of-practice scrimmage how effective he can be when paired with Joel Embiid.

The two shared the court last year for 1,325 minutes and posted a 12.8 net rating. There are not many players who can make Embiid’s man leave his body, but that’s what Redick got Amir Johnson to do on this play. Redick acted as if he was going to set a middle ball screen for Ben Simmons, then flared to the wing, leaving the white team scrambling, and leaving Embiid with an easy dunk. 

As head coach Brett Brown acknowledged Friday, Fultz doesn’t come close right now to providing that kind of off-ball threat, which is one of the reasons Brown plans to start Redick in the second half of games (see story.)

• Dario Saric, who was rested for the Sixers’ final preseason game with lower-back soreness, said he will be “110 percent ready” for the season opener.

• While the Sixers’ focus is understandably on the Celtics, their first opponent, Brown said Friday he’s more concerned with getting his team to play in a way that will bring late-round playoff success than simply being laser-focused on beating Boston. He named the Raptors, Bucks and Wizards as among the teams that pose a threat in the Eastern Conference.

“It’s not just Boston at all, it really isn’t,” Brown said. “It’s how do you beat good teams late in the year and make a deep run? Of course Boston factors into that, but it’s not all Boston at all.”

• The new officiating points of emphasis continue to be a major point of discussion. After longtime former official Joey Crawford visited the team on Friday, Fultz still wasn’t convinced that he should’ve been in constant foul trouble during the Sixers’ two games against the Mavericks in China, though he know it’ll be important to adapt to the tighter way games are being called.

Fultz had five fouls in last Friday's game and fouled out of the preseason finale.

“I think the refs were calling almost everything, so you have to really try to lock in,” Fultz said. “There was some stuff they made mistakes on and there was some stuff I did foul. Everybody’s adjusting to the new reffing system. That’s all that happened, really, they were just calling a lot of fouls and I got caught on the end of it.”

“We go way back to high school; we played against each other a lot in high school.  A lot of people try to make us enemies because of the trade that happened between Boston and Philly, but we’re actually like best friends. But on the court we compete. That’s what anybody does on the court, you compete. But we got a great relationship, like brothers.”

-Markelle Fultz on his relationship with the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum

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

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

Updated: 6:02 p.m.

The 7-3 Sixers will play against their No. 1 pick in the NBA draft two years ago Wednesday night in Orlando.

Here are the essentials for tonight’s game against the 3-7 Magic and Markelle Fultz: 

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

And here are three storylines to watch: 

A long and winding road

It’s been less than a year since Fultz last suited up for the Sixers. Since a scoreless effort on Nov. 19 in the Sixers’ win over the Suns, he experienced a series of agent-recommended medical consultations, a diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome, a trade minutes before the deadline in February and plenty of time watching on the bench as the Magic made a run to the playoffs. Of course, Fultz went through a lot prior to the last year, too, including a diagnosis in November 2017 of scapular muscle imbalance and the persistent inability, for whatever reason, to shoot the way he had at the University of Washington. 

Now, he’s started the last five games for the Magic. Fultz is averaging 9.7 points, 3.1 assists and 2.0 rebounds on the season. He’s already taken 22 three-point shots, seven more than he attempted in his 33 games with the Sixers, though he’s made just four of them.

Load management is in the spotlight 

Joel Embiid is out tonight in the second game of a back-to-back. He'll be listed as such with "injury maintenance/left knee soreness," but this is part of the plan to keep Embiid healthy, per a team source. As we saw with the Kawhi Leonard situation, league rules mandate that there be such a designation for a player sitting out.

Last night, it sounded like his preference was to play vs. Orlando.

“… At the beginning of the season, the goal was to limit my back-to-backs,” he said. “Obviously, the two-game suspension doesn't help. I feel like before that I was in a good rhythm and I kind of lost it. The last couple games I have not been good, especially when it comes to my efficiency and taking care of the ball. I feel like I need to get in a rhythm. So, we’re going to to figure it out.”

Al Horford will return after a load management night. Trey Burke, who missed Tuesday's game with left calf tightness, is available.

Don’t expect a shootout

The Magic are shooting a league-worst 28.2 percent from three-point range. At 33.4 percent, the Sixers are tied for 21st. 

This certainly looks like it might be a low-scoring game. All of the teams currently in the top 10 in defensive rating have a winning record besides the Magic, who are No. 3. They had the second-best defensive rating last season after the trade deadline, too, so their defense doesn’t seem to be a fluke. Jonathan Isaac has 30 blocks, the most in the league. 

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The highlight Mike Scott remembers to stay positive

The highlight Mike Scott remembers to stay positive

It’s hard to imagine Mike Scott being negative.

Since he arrived in a trade from the Clippers last season, Scott has become a fan favorite and steady, veteran contributor. He immersed himself even more into Philadelphia over the summer by crashing weddings and taking part in Nerf gun wars.

But even the most jovial and fun people can fall victim to negative thoughts. In the past, he’s let it affect his play on the court.

“You don’t want anything negative going through your mind because you’re not going to perform well,” Scott said. “I’ve done it before. I’ve had games or something off the court has happened and I was feeling bad or I just wasn’t myself. It factors in your play a lot."

As he’s gotten older, Scott has gotten better at staying positive.

One of his secrets? Watching old highlights of himself playing well. 

His biggest moment as a Sixers occurred when he hit a game-winning three in Game 4 of the team’s first-round playoff matchup against the Nets. That shot gave the Sixers a commanding 3-1 series lead.

“I always go back to that Game 4 Brooklyn shot,” Scott said. “That shot felt good. I felt like I wasn’t really contributing like I wanted to, I didn’t have the game that I wanted to, but that shot did feel good and I always go back to that shot. It makes me feel like I can play in this league, I belong in this league, I can hit big shots.”

Scott talked about the power of positivity and having teammates you can depend on in an interview, which you can watch above.

NBC Sports Regional Networks has launched a multi-platform campaign on mental health and men's health, HeadStrong: Mental Health and Sports, for the month of November. You can find more information about the initiative here.

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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