76ers

Sixers Talk podcast: Former Bull, Sixer Scott Williams talks 'The Last Dance'

Sixers Talk podcast: Former Bull, Sixer Scott Williams talks 'The Last Dance'

Scott Williams, a former Sixer and Bull who was there for the first three-peat, joined the Sixers Talk podcast to discuss "The Last Dance," his relationship with Michael Jordan and his time in Philadelphia.

(0:34) — The Last Dance is over, final thoughts.
(12:24) — Scott Williams joins the pod
(13:25) — Going from playing at UNC to being Michael Jordan's teammate.
(24:55) — Mamba mentality doesn't compare to Jordan's work ethic.
(38:45) — The maturation of Allen Iverson.
(42:40) — Shawn Bradley didn't love basketball.
(45:10) — Kobe Bryant practicing with the Sixers in high school.
(48:18) — No problems with Michael Jordan's leadership style and techniques. 
(55:40) — Hard to watch, but the view of Jerry Krause is accurate.
(59:52) — Losing parents tragically made relationship with Michael Jordan stronger.
(1:05:49) — Hopefully we can stop with the greatest of all time debate.

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2020 NBA return format: Schedule, teams, location, standings, and details

2020 NBA return format: Schedule, teams, location, standings, and details

The 2019-20 NBA season will have a conclusion.

The league's Board of Governors have approved a 22-team plan to resume the season at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and each team will play an eight-game schedule to determine seeding for the 2020 NBA playoffs. 

Here's everything you need to know about the NBA's return inside a "bubble" in Orlando.

Who are the teams going to Orlando? What are the NBA standings?

Nine returning teams are from the Eastern Conference and 13 are from the Western Conference. In the East, only Washington has a chance to jump into playoff position, while in the West, Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio and Phoenix could all advance into playoff position. 

Here are the standings entering the restart:

East

  1. x-Milwaukee -- 53-12
  2. x-Toronto -- 46-18
  3. x-Boston -- 43-21
  4. x-Miami -- 41-24
  5. x-Indiana -- 39-26
  6. x-Philadelphia -- 39-26
  7. Brooklyn -- 30-34
  8. Orlando -- 30-35
  9. Washington -- 24-40

West

  1. x-L.A. Lakers  -- 49-14
  2. x-L.A. Clippers -- 44-20
  3. x-Denver -- 43-22
  4. x-Utah -- 41-23
  5. x-Oklahoma City -- 40-24
  6. x-Houston -- 40-24
  7. Dallas -- 40-27
  8. Memphis -- 32-33
  9. Portland -- 29-37
  10. New Orleans -- 28-36
  11. Sacramento -- 28-36
  12. San Antonio -- 27-36
  13. Phoenix -- 26-39

At 39-26, the Sixers sit sixth in the Eastern Conference. They're clinched for the playoffs, but they have an opportunity to earn a higher seed with the eight "regular season" games on their schedule. The fifth-seeded Pacers are also 39-26, while the fourth-seeded Heat are two games ahead of the Sixers.

The final regular-season games will impact the Sixers in the 2020 NBA draft, as well. If the Thunder finish with one of the NBA's 11 best records, the Sixers will own Oklahoma City's top-20 protected first-round pick, which they acquired when they traded Markelle Fultz to Orlando last February. 

What is the Sixers' schedule?

The NBA schedule for the 22 teams headed to Orlando was released on June 26. It will begin August 1 at 1 p.m. ET, with five games being played that day. The Sixers are one of those games. Here's their full schedule for the seeding games:

Aug. 1, 7 p.m.: Indiana
Aug. 3, 8 p.m: San Antonio
Aug. 5, 4 p.m.: Washington
Aug. 7, 6:30 p.m.: Orlando
Aug. 9, 6:30 p.m.: Portland
Aug. 11, 4:30 p.m.: Phoenix
Aug. 12, 6:30 p.m.: Toronto 
Aug. 14, TBD: Houston 

How will the new format address COVID-19?

The season has been suspended since March 11, when Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. On March 19, the Sixers announced that three members of the organization had tested positive for COVID-19. As of July 1, the Sixers say that no members of their organization have tested positive as they prepare for Orlando. 

The NBA's health and safety memo is 113 pages long. Players and staff will quarantine for 36 hours and will be required to test negative in two tests, 24 hours apart, upon arrival. There will be "regular" testing for players and coaches. 

Where do the Sixers stand entering the restart?

The Sixers’ last game before the hiatus was a 124-106 win over the Pistons in which Joel Embiid scored 30 points after a five-game absence because of a left shoulder sprain and Al Horford had 20 points and 10 rebounds. That victory improved the Sixers to an NBA-best 29-2 at Wells Fargo Center, the best home mark in the league. They’ve been woeful on the road and sport a 10-24 away record. 

“Obviously playing in front of no fans, especially our fans, isn't ideal,” head coach Brett Brown said on May 15. “It's not ideal. Do I think it'll water down the competitive side? I don't. … Of course, it's going to have some level of an impact. I do feel just the mere fact that we'll be playing again might be able to sort of minimize whatever awkwardness playing in front of zero fans is going to teach all of us.

"I think it will be almost comical, the communication with referees and the back and forth with players and the rest. … And so how it will play out, I don't know. None of us have ever done this.” 

One potential benefit of the hiatus for the Sixers is the additional time it provided Ben Simmons to rehab. The two-time All-Star had missed the team’s final eight games before the suspension because of a nerve impingement in his lower back, but he will be fully healthy when games begin on August 1

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NBA playoff predictions: Updated model suddenly loves Sixers' title chances

NBA playoff predictions: Updated model suddenly loves Sixers' title chances

If the NBA is able to finish its 2020 season in Orlando, the once-messy Sixers are suddenly sneaky dark horses to make some noise in the postseason.

You probably remember the Sixers' brutal first 65 games, but with three-plus months of rest during the NBA's season suspension, it's possible the team - once considered Finals contenders - will be a force when healthy.

That's certainy the analysis of FiveThirtyEight's newly updated NBA forecast model. The stats-driven website updated its projections on Thursday, and the new data contains nothing but good news for the Sixers.

The website's projections are based on 100,000 simulations of the remaining games, using team ratings based on FiveThirtyEight's own player ratings. The ratings take into account a player's influence on offense and defense, and includes postseason adjustments for players who typically exceed expectations in the playoffs.

"In terms of Finals odds, the biggest beneficiaries of the new format are the aforementioned Sixers, who gained 7 percentage points compared with their standing in March," the site's Neil Paine writes. "That is essentially owed to an easy schedule and [Ben] Simmons' return to health."

The Sixers also saw the biggest jump in their "championship probabilities", up 4% compared to the Bucks' probabilities dropping 5%. The Sixers now stand fourth overall - behind the Bucks but ahead of the East's Celtics, Raptors, and Heat - in the site's title projections.

Long story short? Everything is coming up Philly.

While the Sixers struggled for a number of reasons before the season was suspended, it's hard to overstate how important it will be to have Simmons back at full strength. Their offense is at its most dangerous when Simmons is in charge at point guard, and the third-year star's defensive prowess has him firmly in First Team All-Defense conversations.

As for that easy schedule, the Sixers face just three teams with a winning record before the playoffs begin, certainly something they should be able to capitalize on.

Of course, the Sixers were favorites before the season started, so it's hard to get too excited about a projection - but FiveThirtyEight's confidence in the team certainly doesn't hurt.

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