Sixers notes, quotes and tidbits: Joel Embiid, Jerryd Bayless out Tuesday vs. Jazz

Sixers notes, quotes and tidbits: Joel Embiid, Jerryd Bayless out Tuesday vs. Jazz

CAMDEN, N.J. — For those hoping that the restrictions on Joel Embiid may be coming to an end, the Sixers have bad news.

Embiid will not play Tuesday night in Utah for what the team is calling "load management." Embiid, who's averaging 20.5 points and 10.1 rebounds in 27.6 minutes a game this season, will play Thursday night in Sacramento. 

The decision may seem odd seeing as the Sixers haven't played a game since last Friday's win over the Pacers. Unfortunately, head coach Brett Brown didn't really have answers, deferring to the medical staff.

"I really just follow, like I always tell you, the instruction of our medical people," Brown said Monday, "and there is completely a thought-out plan of why this plan has been recommended. I think if it requires more information, they will be the ones to explain why they decided to make this recommendation."

The Sixers are equipped to handle their star big man's absence. Richaun Holmes is now healthy and they have the services of free-agent signee Amir Johnson. Brown also mentioned Jahlil Okafor's name when asked about his plan to replace Embiid's minutes.

The team will also be without guard Jerryd Bayless, who suffered an injury to his left wrist fighting through a screen against Indiana. X-rays were negative, but it's the same wrist Bayless eventually had season-ending surgery on last season.

"It's a tough break," Brown said. "But it's one of those things that [Timothe] Luwawu[-Cabarrot] and [Nik] Stauskas and Justin Anderson — that's why you have a team. These guys are in shape, their attitudes have been great, their fitness level is great. Even though they haven't played, the system caters for all that. "

Bayless started the season as a starter before moving to the bench in favor of Dario Saric the last two games. The move seemed more to get Saric going than it was a slight on Bayless. The veteran guard, who signed a three-year deal last offseason, added another legitimate three-point shooting threat to the lineup, shooting 42 percent through nine games this season.

While it's simply a night off for Embiid, it may be something more serious for Bayless.

"It's all about opportunity for the next guy," point guard T.J. McConnell said. "It's unfortunate what's happened to Jerryd. It's bad luck. We're all praying for him. Like I said, we just have to move on and next guy up."

Bayless underwent MRI and CT scans, but his status beyond the game against the Jazz is unknown.

The Sixers' five-game road trip starts tomorrow in Utah, followed by a game in Sacramento Thursday before stops against the Warriors, Clippers and Lakers.

Guarding Simmons
Sixers point guard Ben Simmons presents a matchup nightmare.

Defend him with a big and he'll blow by him. Try a point guard and he'll post him up. Even wings have struggled to keep up with the strength of the 6-foot-10 point guard.

Simmons has seen all these looks and has found a way to beat them all.

"I just test them," Simmons said. "See how they play me. See what they give me on the court. But every game is a new challenge. I'm learning each one but I think every game I'm getting better."

So far, opposing teams just don't have an answer for Simmons.

"We're just seeing a smorgasbord of everybody's belief on how they should defend Ben Simmons," Brown said. "It has not been a cookie cutter process yet. And because the league so well coaches and because the league is so well scouted, in time you're going to see a constant — mostly — way Ben is defended."

Simmonds leads all rookies in points, assists, rebounds, steals and minutes per game.

Lefty Fultz?
Markelle Fultz was practicing on a side court, mostly just dribbling and doing light drills.

But when he did shoot, he did so ... left-handed?

Before you freak out, it appeared to just be a way for Fultz to get some work in while not using his injured right shoulder. Brown didn't even realize he was doing it.

"No," Brown said. "I haven't even seen it but I can tell you that there's nothing to read into it."

Fultz has missed the last five games with right shoulder soreness and scapular muscle imbalance. He is out indefinitely. 

Should Ben Simmons shoot right-handed? He doesn't seem to think so

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Should Ben Simmons shoot right-handed? He doesn't seem to think so

For those sharing the conspiracy theory that Ben Simmons should be shooting with his right hand, prepare to be disappointed.

The Rookie of the Year appeared to shoot down the notion on Twitter, commenting on a story suggesting the Sixers’ point guard is shooting with the wrong hand.

This story stemmed from a piece by The New York Times basketball writer Marc Stein, but questions of the 22-year-old’s handedness were first posted by Kevin O’Connor — formerly of SB Nation, now with The Ringer. O’Connor has been charting Simmons’ shots since LSU. In a feature for SB Nation back in 2016, O’Connor noted that Simmons used his right hand on 81.5 percent of his shots. That’s pretty much reverse for any lefty currently in the NBA.

Since O’Connor first presented this theory, it’s picked up some steam.

Below is a video of Simmons taking free throws right-handed during warm-ups last season.

You have to admit, it looks pretty smooth. It’s a tough angle, but his elbow looks more tucked in than when he shoots with his left. His wrist action and follow through look smoother as well. 

Let’s also not forget when Simmons was given the chance to throw the first pitch at a Phillies game earlier this season.

That’s a pretty nice right-handed strike.

His free throw shooting was an issue last season. As dominant as Simmons was at times, he shot just 56 percent from the line. In a game against the Wizards on Nov. 11, the Sixers held a big lead. Sensing the game was slipping away, Washington head coach Scott Brooks went to the hack-a-Ben strategy. Simmons took 29 free throws, hitting just 15. It allowed the Wizards to make the game a little too close for comfort.

With all that said, there have been instances where Simmons has showed promise with his left-handed shot. In the playoffs, Simmons shot 70 percent from the line.

He’s also flashed the ability to shoot in practice …

… and in games …

Would Simmons be better if he shot with his right hand? If Simmons’ reaction to that notion is any indication, we may never know.

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Sixers remain quiet as contenders make their case for Eastern Conference supremacy

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Sixers remain quiet as contenders make their case for Eastern Conference supremacy

These are truly the dog days of summer when it comes to the NBA.

Players are likely either putting in work with daily workouts or enjoying some vacation time before things get cranked back up in the fall.

However, those aren’t the only activities that are presented with that extra free time. There is also more opportunity for guys to do some boasting about what is to come. After all, they’re probably feeling good about the progress made during the offseason and the recent 2018-19 schedule release has put a jolt in their system.

Unless you’re a Sixer. They’ve remained relatively silent as members of one team after another have stated their case for the Eastern Conference crown now that LeBron James took his talents to Hollywood.

Boston swingman Jaylen Brown openly laid claim to the East during an appearance last week on Portland guard C.J. McCollum’s Pull Up podcast.

“Oh, we're getting to the Finals. No question about it,” Brown said.

And Brown made it clear that he didn’t feel that way about his Celtics just because James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. In fact, he said the C’s were going win next season regardless of whether James stayed in the Eastern Conference or not.

“I hate how everybody is like, ‘Oh, LeBron's gone in the East,’” Brown said. “I know he did have a strong hold on the East for the last seven years, but he barely got us out of there this year. And our mindset was like, ‘Man, he’s not beating us again.’”

That’s pretty bold, but the Celtics have a right to feel good about themselves. They were on the cusp of reaching the NBA Finals a year ago and are getting All-Star reinforcements back in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.

New Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez was a bit more diplomatic with his expectations for next season. Still, he presented the case for his squad to become the new big dogs in the East.

“We definitely think the East is wide open,” Lopez said to Hoopshype a week ago. “It’s going to be such a fun, exciting time in the East and it’s going to be super competitive. There are a lot of teams that can do [big] things, from Toronto to Boston to Philly — you just go down the list and it’s clear that the East is as exciting as it’s been in a long time. I think we’re very confident that we can, no question, win the East.”

Even Washington Wizards guard John Wall explained why his group could be the one to rise to the top of the conference.

“I feel like we’re all equal,” Wall told Yahoo! Sports. “None of them won a championship. This is no knock on no other team. Don’t get me wrong. Boston is a hell of a team. Philly has great young talent with those guys (Joel) Embiid, (Ben) Simmons. And Toronto, losing DeMar (DeRozan), they still get Kawhi (Leonard). Y’all might have been to the Eastern Conference finals, where we haven’t been to, but none of y’all were going to the Finals. It was one guy going to the Finals. Ain’t nobody separated from nothing. I know one guy that separated himself from the Eastern Conference every year and that was LeBron James and the Cavs. Other than that … if you lose in the second round or the conference finals, you still didn’t get to your ultimate goal.”

Throughout all of the chest-puffing discussions, the Sixers haven’t made a peep. Not even the 7-foot-2 All-Star known for trash-talking anyone in sight. Embiid barely gave a response to No. 1 overall pick DeAndre Ayton when the rookie recently decided to draw himself dunking on the Sixers’ center.

It’s a stark departure from Embiid’s normal back-and-forth nature, but it’s safe to assume that the big man and his team will wait until they step on the court to let their game do the talking.

With a healthy offseason under his belt for the first time as a professional, you can bet that Embiid — and in turn the Sixers — will have plenty to say at that time.

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