76ers

Sixers vs. Hawks: 3 storylines to watch and how to live stream the game

Sixers vs. Hawks: 3 storylines to watch and how to live stream the game

After a disappointing loss in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday night, the Sixers return home to Wells Fargo Center, where they currently have the best home record in the NBA. It will be their second matchup against the Atlanta Hawks (12-29), who are led by former Sixers assistant coach Lloyd Pierce.

Here are the essentials for tonight's matchup.

• When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
• Where: Wells Fargo Center Center
• Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
• Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

Here are three storylines to watch.

Defending the three … again

This Atlanta team may only have 12 wins, but they have strengths in areas where the Sixers have showed weakness. Most recently, that’s been in defending the three, as we saw in D.C., where the Wizards shot 13 of 27 from three-point range. The Hawks attempt an average of 34.4 threes per game, good for fourth in the NBA.

Pace and turnovers

The Hawks play with the highest pace in the NBA, are fourth in the league in turnovers forced per game and seventh in steals. The Sixers turn the ball over at the fourth-highest rate in the league, and Wednesday's loss is an example of what happens to them defensively when they are careless on offense. Even linked to the earlier point about defending the three, Brett Brown said it was their turnovers that made it difficult for them to keep up with Washington and get back on defense.

Bounce back game

There was a lot of talk in the locker room after last game about the team's lack of competiveness and energy, especially on the defensive end. Granted, this game is at home, but it’s all about how the Sixers bounce back from a disappointing loss on the road.

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Flaws and all, JJ Redick reminds us how much he means to Sixers

Flaws and all, JJ Redick reminds us how much he means to Sixers

Throughout his basketball career, JJ Redick has been known for one thing. It’s not rebounding.

“Ten rebounds, I never thought the day would come,” the 34-year-old told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Serena Winters after the Sixers’ 118-114 win Tuesday over Hornets (see observations). “I never thought the day would come.”

Along with grabbing a career high in rebounds, Redick made a bunch of long range jumpers in Charlotte, something he continues to do at a very high level. He scored 27 points, 21 in the first 17 minutes, and made 7 of 14 three-point shots, while his teammates hit just 4 for 18. And forget about his first career double-double — he was two assists away from a triple-double. He even made a pivotal defensive play, taking a charge late in the fourth quarter. 

As Jimmy Butler told reporters, “JJ had an outstanding game. He was out there hooping.”

Redick is an easy target for criticism when he isn’t making shots — he’s a below-average defender and good teams sometimes make him look like a bad one. Futile isolation matchups against Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum on Feb. 12 and Mo Harkless on Feb. 23 are two recent examples that come to mind. Sure, Redick competes defensively, but it often isn’t nearly enough.

To be a positive player for the Sixers, Redick usually can’t afford off shooting nights. Sometimes, it almost feels as if he’s a kicker in the NFL whose value and professional reputation rests on executing one particular skill under intense pressure. All Redick can do, or so it seems, is trust his shot, know the slumps aren’t going to last forever, and believe the percentages will eventually balance out in his favor.

That's not to say Redick is exactly like a kicker in the sense that he only has one useful trait. Redick perpetually circles around screens, makes opponents account for the countless options off his two-man game with Embiid, sets sneaky screens, gives his teammates slivers of space to work that are impossible to quantify.

This season Redick has checked off a couple of nice, clean milestones. He reached 10,000 career points in December and, on Tuesday night, passed Robert Covington for the second-most three-pointers made in a season by a Sixer. He has a chance to break Kyle Korver’s franchise record of 226 in the 2004-05 season.

Those stats are convenient tools to understand Redick. They are, without a doubt, helpful. But, after watching him play 137 regular-season games as a Sixer, it’s obvious they’re not sufficient.

Perhaps the best way to make sense of Redick and what he means to the Sixers is by considering the impact of Redick’s absence. The Sixers have a minus-1.1 net rating when Redick is off the floor this season and a plus-6.4 net rating when he’s on the court. That differential is, of course, boosted by Redick’s minutes with Embiid and the Sixers’ best players, but it’s impressive regardless. It’s not a fluke. 

And in the bigger picture, the Sixers’ offense without Redick is … not really the Sixers’ offense. Sure, pick-and-rolls and isolations with Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris or post-ups with Embiid don’t rely on Redick, but the 13-year veteran is central to so much of what the Sixers do offensively. 

Redick is a flawed player. Brett Brown might need to pull him for defensive reasons at times in the playoffs. On nights when he’s not threatening triple-doubles, he generally needs to nail jumpers. All of those things are true, and they don’t prevent Redick from being a critical piece of the Sixers. 

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Sixers 118, Hornets 114: JJ Redick stars as Sixers escape with win

Sixers 118, Hornets 114: JJ Redick stars as Sixers escape with win

Updated: 1:02 a.m. 

The Sixers beat the Hornets Tuesday night in Charlotte, 118-114, extending their season-high winning streak to five games.

It wasn't as simple as it sounds. Without Joel Embiid (rest), JJ Redick and Ben Simmons starred, while Jimmy Butler and James Ennis made clutch shots down the stretch to lift the Sixers to a wild victory in a game that had 22 lead changes.

Jeremy Lamb missed an open shot at the rim that would've tied the game and possibly set up for a third consecutive overtime game between the Sixers and Hornets. 

Heading into Wednesday's matchup vs. the Celtics, the Sixers are 46-25, 2.5 games up on the Pacers for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference after Indiana's loss to the Clippers.

• Redick picked up where he left off Sunday (19 points on 7 for 10 shooting) by making his first three field goals, including the opening points of the game on a Redick special — an improbable three-pointer from the left wing that was late in the shot clock, off-balance and very tightly contested. 

A three from the right corner that didn’t disturb any part of the rim gave him 21 points in the first 17 minutes. 

Redick passed Robert Covington for the second-most three-pointers made in a season in franchise history.

Kyle Korver has the record with 226 in the 2004-05 season.

Though Redick cooled off in the second half, he did a little bit of everything Tuesday night. In addition to 27 points, he grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds, dished out eight assists, and even took a key charge in the fourth quarter. 

• Sixers fans already have two very good memories of Jimmy Butler in Spectrum Center. After nailing a game-winner in overtime on Nov. 17, Butler (23 points on 8 for 19 shooting) hit a clutch three-pointer from the left corner to give the Sixers the lead with 1:27 to go. 

• The Sixers’ bench badly needed someone to provide a little offense. James Ennis did that and much more. He finished with 14 points on 6 for 9 shooting and nailed two massive threes in the fourth quarter. 

Talk about seizing a role on a team and not letting go — well done, James Ennis. 

• In his last five games, Ben Simmons has just seven turnovers. It’s a nice stat on the surface, but what’s perhaps most encouraging for Simmons is that he hasn’t seriously sacrificed his exceptional open-court skills to take better care of the ball. 

Simmons had a pair of dunks in the first quarter off very convincing dribble handoff fakes.

Though it’s certainly excusable for a player who’s only missed one game this season, it looked like Simmons took off a couple of possessions defensively, allowing his man to beat him on the initial move and not making much of an effort to recover. 

He posted 28 points on an incredible 11 of 12 from the floor, with eight rebounds and five assists.

• Amir Johnson started in Embiid’s place, while Boban Marjanovic came off the bench. The duo combined for four points and four rebounds in 27 minutes. 

Marjanovic didn’t have a good first half. He got beat for a few rebounds and didn't attempt a shot in 10 minutes. If the Sixers are going to try to steal minutes from Marjanovic against centers with some agility who can knock down threes, he needs to win the matchup offensively and on the boards. While you don’t want to force feed him the ball, the reality is Marjanovic needs to score vs. smaller centers like Frank Kaminsky to offset his defensive weaknesses.

Jonah Bolden took Marjanovic’s minutes in the second half, his first action since March 10 vs. Indiana. Though the rookie was understandably not his sharpest and was called for four fouls in his 11 minutes, he’s far better equipped than Marjanovic to guard stretch fives and pick up guards on switches.

Finally, Brett Brown used Simmons as his small-ball center to wrap up the game.

With 11 games to go, who Brown turns to at backup center against Boston should give us a better idea of exactly how willing he is to ride with Marjanovic, and how much trust he has in Bolden.

• After giving up a career-high 60 points to Kemba Walker in November, the Sixers had to be relieved when the Hornets’ star picked up his third foul in the first quarter and took a seat on the bench. 

But the Sixers couldn’t avoid Walker forever. He scored 13 of the Hornets’ 30 points in the third quarter, vaulting Charlotte into the lead. 

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