76ers

Sixers recall Justin Patton from Blue Coats with injuries to Joel Embiid, Boban Marjanovic

Sixers recall Justin Patton from Blue Coats with injuries to Joel Embiid, Boban Marjanovic

Desperate times may call for desperate measures.

With Joel Embiid (knee soreness) and Boban Marjanovic (knee sprain) both ruled out in Oklahoma City Thursday, the Sixers on Wednesday recalled center Justin Patton from the Delaware Blue Coats.

Patton, acquired from the Timberwolves in the Jimmy Butler deal, played in just one NBA game in Minnesota last season. The 21-year-old suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot in September and has spent the last month in the G-League.

The former first-round pick has flashed some of his abilities. He’s playing just 18.2 minutes a night but is averaging 11.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in seven games with the 87ers. Selected 16th overall by the Bulls out of Creighton, Patton has a lot of the skills you’re looking for out of a modern NBA big.

He’s an athletic rim runner, meaning he can get up the floor in transition and defend the rim at the other end. He has good touch and has extended his range during his time out. The free throws (57 percent in Delaware) are still an issue.

The biggest concern will be at the defensive end — and the matchup Thursday isn’t ideal. The Thunder start the hulking Steven Adams but also have two athletic former Sixers in Nerlens Noel and Jerami Grant, who at times plays small-ball five. If Brett Brown mixes Patton in with rookie Jonah Bolden and veteran Amir Johnson, it’ll be a big ask.

With that said, there’s likely never been a better time to get a look at Patton, who will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Plus, we have an idea of what Bolden is and definitely know what Johnson is. 

Let’s see what Patton can bring to the table.

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

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

At 36-22, the Sixers are a half-game behind the Heat for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

They play the 16-41 Cavaliers Wednesday night in Cleveland, while Miami will host the Timberwolves.

Below are the essentials for tonight’s game. 

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

Here are three storylines to watch:

‘Next man up’: Shake Milton 

Shake Milton and Ben Simmons both are 23 years old and have 7-foot wingspans. Outside of that, the two don’t have much in common as players.

Monday night, Milton took Simmons’ place as the Sixers’ starting point guard and had seven points, six assists, a steal and a block in 26 minutes. After sliding into the lineup when Josh Richardson was out with a hamstring injury, it looks like he’s going to do the same thing with Simmons sidelined by a nerve impingement in his lower back.

“He’s really taken an incredibly unlikely path. … In general, he can guard better than I originally thought,” Brett Brown said Monday. “I think he’s got some legit point guard thinking in his psyche. I think he can guard multiple positions in the backcourt.”

The 54th pick in the 2018 draft, Milton has already experienced significant back, finger and knee injuries as a professional. A two-way player as a rookie, he earned an NBA contract by performing well in the G League and generally appearing like he belonged at the NBA level. This upcoming stretch without Simmons — however long it is — may very well be be the biggest opportunity he’s had.

“I just feel like it's my job to be ready,” he said. “Whatever the team wants me to do. I feel comfortable on the ball, I feel comfortable off the ball. If somebody goes down, you don't want to see injuries, but it's next man up and I just try to play the role.

No Embiid vs. Drummond matchup

We won't get a Joel Embiid vs. Andre Drummond matchup tonight, since the Cavs center is out with a left calf strain.

The two have a history of trash talk and entertaining duels, with Embiid holding a 6-1 advantage over Drummond and averaging 27.7 points and 10.3 rebounds against him. 

Without Drummond, Cleveland will presumably start Tristan Thompson. The Cavs have still played Thompson 25.2 minutes per game off the bench since acquiring Drummond. 

An easy schedule … in theory

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Sixers have the third-easiest remaining schedule in the NBA. 

While that should make playing without Simmons somewhat less challenging, the thought of simply winning a road game sounds difficult right now. The Sixers haven’t done that since Jan. 20, when Simmons was brilliant against the Nets with a 34-point triple-double.

The team returns home for a game Thursday vs. the Knicks, then heads West for a four-game trip that begins with games against the Clippers and Lakers. 

The Cavs are actually 2-1 since J.B. Bickerstaff took over for John Beilein as head coach, and they topped the Heat on Monday. That said, this is an opponent the Sixers should beat, regardless of where the game is being played. 



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Matisse Thybulle thinks Tobias Harris stole his phone and hilarity ensues

Matisse Thybulle thinks Tobias Harris stole his phone and hilarity ensues

Matisse Thybulle has been entertaining on the court, leading all rookies in steals. 

His misadventures on the team plane have been equally, if not more entertaining. You'll remember the infamous biscuit fiasco and then his "50 biscuits" redemption a couple weeks later.

As the team traveled to Cleveland Tuesday, Thybulle couldn't find his phone. He was convinced that Tobias Harris took it as he practically tore the plane apart looking for it.

Luckily for us, Harris documented the whole thing on his Instagram story. Here's a large portion of it for your viewing pleasure:

Thybulle is so impressive, he managed to steal his own phone.

Oh, silly rookie. Can't we all relate, though?

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