It’s important to remember after all the drama that the Sixers actually played a bunch of basketball games last week.
Their five-game road trip was mostly positive, actually. They had a clunker without Joel Embiid in Portland, but they were a JJ Redick missed jumper in Boston from finishing the trip 4-1. They also hung on for a win over the Mavs upon their return home Saturday.
Here is this week’s stock watch.
After missing the game against the Blazers, the Eastern Conference Player of the Week returned to his dominant form. In the last three games, Embiid averaged 31.7 points, 16.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, two blocks and 1.7 steals.
The craziest was the win over Dallas when he seemed like he was having a quiet night and wound up with 25 points and 12 boards. Ho hum.
One very positive development is Embiid’s improved three-point shot — though he insists he hates taking them. Over his last five games, Embiid is shooting 44 percent from three (8 of 18). Fans often complain about the All-Star center taking too many threes, but it does help the team’s spacing. And if he’s going to shoot like he has recently, let it fly.
Simmons also had a phenomenal week, averaging 20.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and seven assists. He’s posted triple-doubles in four of his last 10 games. He’s also been assertive and aggressive and looking for his shot a lot more.
All of that is nice, but Simmons makes the list because of his newfound willingness to take jump shots. He made 2 of 4 in Saturday’s win. A pretty huge development for both he and the Sixers. Let’s hope more takes (and makes) follow.
It’s no secret the Sixers’ bench has been a glaring deficiency. One of the things the bench has desperately needed is athleticism. Enter Bolden.
Bolden has provided that athleticism and a high activity level to give the bench a big boost. His abilities to rim protect and switch one through five are huge in the modern NBA. Over the last four games, he’s averaged eight points, 6.8 rebounds (2.8 offensive) and almost a full block in 21.6 minutes.
Brett Brown acknowledged that Bolden, who hadn’t gotten regular minutes until the team’s West Coast swing, has earned a spot in the team’s rotation. It should be interesting to see what Elton Brand does with his bench and what it means for Bolden as the trade deadline approaches.
The team’s collective immune system
Jimmy Butler and Wilson Chandler have both missed the last two games because of an upper-respiratory infection. On Monday, Simmons missed practice with an upper-respiratory infection. Something is clearly going around the locker room.
Break out the hand sanitizer and Vitamin C. This team and its thin bench needs all the bodies they can get.
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