76ers

Sixers notes, quotes and tidbits: What already has team seeing red?

Sixers notes, quotes and tidbits: What already has team seeing red?

CAMDEN, N.J. — NBA courts measure out 94 feet long and 50 feet wide. 

For the Sixers, they’re making sure to use every inch. 

One of the courts at the team’s training complex had all four corners marked with red boxes per the request of head coach Brett Brown.

“If you look at our court there are four distinct markings on the court that I have anointed things that are important to me. That’s one of them,” Brown said after Day 1 of training camp Saturday.

Brown explained the boxes are displayed as a reminder for players. Offensively, it’s to let them know someone must be in both corners in the first three to five seconds of the shot clock to jump-start the squad’s motion. On the defensive side, it serves as a hint to close out on shooters. 

“Whether it’s defensive reasons or offensive reasons, those four spots, for me, have a reason,” Brown said. “We game-ify, we chart it, we talk about it, take the notes, film, success or failure. That’s how I communicate with the guys. It’s one of four floor spots that are important to me.”

Hello again
Forgive Emeka Okafor if he’s a little bit off at the moment. It’s been a wild week.

The veteran big man was released Wednesday by the New Orleans Pelicans. He quickly landed a new deal with the Sixers and arrived in Philadelphia on … well, we’re still not sure.

“I found out Wednesday. I got here Friday,” an uncertain Okafor said. “Thursday or Friday. I’m all screwed up right now.”

Either way, Okafor was in uniform and went through practice Saturday as he tries to extend his career again.

Work to do
Talk to Landry Shamet for any amount of time and you would think he’s a fringe player trying to stay in the league, not a first-round rookie. 

He often mentions areas that need improvement, mainly his body and ball-handling.

But no one would dare add long-range shooting to that list of question marks. The Wichita State product connected on 43.7 percent of his threes while in school.

Now he’s getting a masters-level education in jump shooting.

Quotables
“Of course we can accomplish it. This team is young, talented. Maybe a championship will not come this year, maybe next year. But I think this team has potential to show up on the court, enjoy and play tough both ways and win the games. Ben (Simmons), Joel (Embiid), Rob (Covington), T.J. (McConnell), Markelle (Fultz), the new guys – I think everybody’s excited about this season.”

- Dario Saric on goal of reaching the NBA Finals

“Let’s face it, my situation and our situation over the years that I’ve been here is kind of unique. Elton (Brand) and I are going to do this together. Elton’s gonna do what I read that he has said and what has been articulated to me. He’s the general manager of the team and he’s going to go do his thing. I’m going to coach basketball. I like how it’s played out.”

- Brown on Brand being named general manager

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Sixers’ situation becomes bleaker with injury to Joel Embiid, loss to Cavaliers

Sixers’ situation becomes bleaker with injury to Joel Embiid, loss to Cavaliers

The Sixers haven’t won a road game since Jan. 20, both of their All-Stars are injured and, if the playoffs started tonight, they would not have home court advantage. In short, things could be going much better.

Joel Embiid sustained a left shoulder sprain Wednesday night and the Sixers dropped to 36-23 with a 108-94 loss to the Cavaliers. They play the Knicks tomorrow night at Wells Fargo Center.

Here are observations on the loss: 

First Simmons, now Embiid 

Embiid grimaced after a collision off the ball with Ante Zizic late in the first quarter, feeling at the area around his left shoulder. He took and missed both free throws after the foul call, seemingly in significant pain, then left the game and went back to the locker room. 

Early in the second quarter, Embiid briefly returned to the bench before again heading to the locker room. After a short conversation with head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson, he appeared to have a discussion in the tunnel with GM Elton Brand, who said before the season that he’d “be more a part of it with the players in a partnership for their care.”

The team announced at halftime that Embiid was out for the game. 

Embiid’s injury is bad news for the Sixers regardless of the circumstances, but it’s obviously even worse in the context of Ben Simmons being sidelined with a nerve impingement in his lower back. 

It was certainly possible to picture an Embiid-centric team thriving without Simmons, especially given that the Sixers have the third-easiest remaining schedule in the league. If both their All-Stars are out for an extended period of time, though, it would be a massive hit.

There are a heap of fair criticisms one can have about the Sixers this season — Brand’s decision to spend as much money as he did on Horford and Harris, other complementary pieces not doing enough, abysmal efforts on the road, you name it. However, having your second All-Star get hurt two days after he scored a career-high 49 points and the day after announcing the diagnosis of your other All-Star’s injury is just very bad luck. 

We’ll update this post with any further news on Embiid’s injury.

Secondary options not close to good enough 

With Embiid out, the Sixers needed Harris and Horford to carry a bigger load.

Neither player was up for the task. 

Harris, whose status changed from doubtful to questionable to available for Monday’s game with a right knee contusion, did not look explosive and shot 4 of 13.

Horford made a few nice passes, had three steals and hit two threes, but he wasn’t nearly as good as the Sixers needed him to be, with 10 points in 34 minutes. 

It wasn’t a strong night for Josh Richardson (nine points on 4 of 12 shooting), either.

Norvel Pelle was out for a second straight game with an upper respiratory illness, which led the Sixers to play Kyle O’Quinn as their backup center. In his first action during a close game since Jan. 20, Quinn had six points, four blocks and two rebounds. 

O’Quinn reportedly wanted to be waived, but perhaps Embiid’s injury will shift his thinking. Players must be waived by March 1 in order to retain playoff eligibility in the event they’re picked up by another team that season. We looked at available guards that might be interest the Sixers today (see story).

Milton starts again 

Shake Milton was the Sixers’ starting point guard, as he had been Monday vs. the Hawks.

The 23-year-old didn’t start the game well, allowing Darius Garland to hit his first three shots. Though the defensive drop-off from Simmons to Milton is substantial, Milton was a bright spot offensively, picking the right spots to attack and knocking down 4 of 6 threes. 

He finished with 20 points, four rebounds, four assists and no turnovers. If you’d like a positive in a situation that currently looks rather bleak, Milton is a good choice. 

Richardson and Alec Burks (13 points on 6 of 12 shooting) split up backup ball handling duties. 

A terrible 1st half 

The Cavs scored 30 of the game’s first 36 points in the paint. The Sixers missed a handful of open looks inside early, including a very easy fast break Horford layup attempt off a long pass from Milton. They made just 11 of their first 36 field goals and 2 of their first 12 threes. 

No Sixer played especially well in the first half, and yet the team only trailed by 11 points. With all due respect to the 17-win Cavs, who did beat the Heat on Monday, the deficit would surely have been worse if the Sixers were playing a decent opponent. 

Embiid’s injury played a part in these particular early road struggles, but a team that is 27-2 at home should simply not be 9-21 on the road.

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Sixers injury update: Joel Embiid exits game vs. Cavs with shoulder injury

Sixers injury update: Joel Embiid exits game vs. Cavs with shoulder injury

Already down Ben Simmons, the last thing the Sixers needed was an injury to their other All-Star.

Joel Embiid suffered a left shoulder sprain and will not return vs. the Cavs, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Serena Winters. He went back to the locker room with a left shoulder injury after he was fouled by Ante Zizic late in the first quarter in Cleveland. 

Embiid and the Cavs’ big man got tangled up and Embiid came up grabbing his shoulder. He then went on to miss both free throws and grimaced the entire time. Furkan Korkmaz purposefully committed a foul to get Embiid back to the locker room. Embiid briefly came back to the bench, but was then summoned by head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson back to the locker room where it appeared GM Elton Brand was waiting.

The Sixers are already without Simmons, who was diagnosed with nerve impingement in his lower back. He’ll be re-evaluated in two weeks, per a team spokesperson.

The team is also without Norvel Pelle who is dealing with an upper respiratory illness. That leaves Al Horford and Kyle O’Quinn as the only players that can play as true NBA fives.

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