76ers

Sixers vs. Nets: 3 storylines to watch

Sixers vs. Nets: 3 storylines to watch

Updated: 1:22 p.m.

Welcome back, Sixers fans.

After a disappointing start to the season, the Sixers (34-21) hope to go on a run after the All-Star break starting tonight when they host the Nets (25-28).

Ben Simmons is listed as questionable with low back tightness. For the first time since having surgery on his left ring finger, Joel Embiid will no longer wear a splint and instead be taped.

Brooklyn will be without Kyrie Irving, who is dealing with right shoulder impingement and will see a specialist.

Here are three storylines to watch:

The evolution of Jo and Ben

The fit of Embiid and Simmons has dominated all other Sixers’ storylines this season and for good reason. This team will only go as far as the All-Star duo will take them.

Even their teammates know it all hinges on the play of their young stars.

“Those two are the guys that keep this thing moving and they have to really embrace each other and have that respect for each other’s games,” Tobias Harris said at practice Wednesday. “Their games are different, their games are different styles, but in a way they both do complement each other on the floor — I’ve said that since the day I got here and I truly believe it.

"When they are out there and they are both dominant, like the Clipper game, you can just see it’s like they played together since they were young kids. ... Those two, especially and most importantly, have to continue to embrace that night in and night out for us to be a successful team.”

Brett Brown ran more snug pick-and-roll than he ever had in the Sixers’ win over the Clippers last Tuesday. It was the most productive we’ve seen the pair execute the action using their size and skill. It may be a little tougher to run with a rim-protecting big like Jarrett Allen, but expect to see more of it if Simmons plays.

Sixth man Al Horford

Al Horford’s reaction to coming off the bench has been what you’d expect. He doesn’t appear to be thrilled about it, but he’s been a pro and understands that his role really won’t change all that much.

The goal is to have Horford and Embiid play less together, a move that should help both players offensively. Adding another shooter to the starting unit — whether it’s Furkan Korkmaz or Glenn Robinson III — should give Embiid more space. Playing Horford as a true five allows him to showcase more of the skillset that’s made him a five-time All-Star.

You should still expect Embiid and Horford to close games together because of how dominant they can be defensively. The Sixers’ original starting lineup is tied for second in the NBA in terms of defensive rating among five-man lineups that have played at least 200 minutes.

Containing the Nets

This Brooklyn team has given the Sixers problems in the regular season the last couple years. Even without their superstars in Irving and Kevin Durant, the Nets have multiple players that can take people off the dribble and cause problems.

Luckily for the Sixers, they are better equipped to handle the likes of Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert than they have been in the past. Simmons is playing at a Defensive Player of the Year level this season. The team has also gotten strong perimeter defense out of Josh Richardson, rookie Matisse Thybulle and will have another option in the newcomer Robinson.

Dinwiddie and LeVert can be dangerous if you’re not prepared, but if the Sixers play defense like they’re capable, they should be able to smother that guard duo.

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Which Sixers player should represent the team in reported NBA2K players-only tournament?

Which Sixers player should represent the team in reported NBA2K players-only tournament?

Updated: 11:06 p.m. 

NBA fans are desperate for entertainment. 

With the season on hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, the league is still aiming to provide some sort of distraction. According to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, the NBA is planning to have a players-only NBA2K tournament, and hopes to launch the event on Friday. Haynes reports the tournament will include 16 players and last 10 days. 

This report leads us to consider who might represent the Sixers if they have a player participating. 

Let’s rank the 15 players on the roster based on what we know about them as people, athletes and gamers. (This ranking is highly unscientific.) 

15. Al Horford — The oldest on the roster and a family man. Video games don’t seem like Horford’s cup of tea.

14. Kyle O’Quinn — He prefers yoga

13. Zhaire Smith — Smith doesn’t often have a lot of downtime. “When I have an off day or something and I’m not doing anything, I’ll watch the Sixers. I try my best to watch them, but usually I’m busy,” he said in January.

12. Tobias Harris — You might remember what Mike Scott said about Harris in October: “He reads books.” That’s not to say reading and 2K are mutually exclusive, but Harris doesn't appear a likely candidate to be a great gamer. 

11. Furkan Korkmaz — Korkmaz spent a large chunk of this summer playing for Turkey in the FIBA World Cup and working on his game and conditioning. He can’t have taken much time sharpening whatever 2K abilities he has. 

10. Raul Neto — Neto’s a fashionable, polished guy. He could very well be an excellent gamer, but he doesn’t fit the stereotype.

9. Norvel Pelle — He found out that he was going to be converted to an NBA deal while watching a movie in his bed. Make of that what you will. 

8. Josh Richardson — As of two years ago, Richardson said he was “trash” at 2K. He at least plays and would probably have an idea of what he was doing. 

7. Matisse Thybulle — We saw Thybulle lose to the Suns’ Mikal Bridges on Friday night. Defense was, ironically, his Achilles heel. 

6. Glenn Robinson III — It’s a big stretch, but Robinson was on a young Warriors team for the first half of the season and might have some relatively recent reps against solid, young competition.

5. Alec Burks — Ditto with Burks. 

4. Shake Milton — This is mostly gut feel (not that the other rankings are much different). Whatever the competition, Milton's poise can’t hurt. 

3. Joel Embiid — Embiid was apparently good enough to crush Markelle Fultz. We’re not sure exactly how good that is, but it’s something. 

2. Mike Scott — Back in 2011, he claimed to sport a 21-3 online record in 2K. Though he said last year that he quit on the game because “they made me so trash up there,” he can’t have entirely lost those skills. 

1. Ben Simmons — Simmons is the Sixers’ most accomplished gamer by far and says he “can play any game.” He’s the clear pick unless there’s someone out there with a hidden talent. 

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Remembering the emotional night when Sixers retired Charles Barkley's jersey

Remembering the emotional night when Sixers retired Charles Barkley's jersey

Nineteen years ago today, the Sixers rose Charles Barkley’s No. 34 up to the rafters.

Barkley, who’d retired the year before after a stint with the Rockets, was touched by the honor. (You can check out footage from that night in the video above.)

“This is one of the greatest nights of my life and I’m honored to share it with you guys,” he said.

In eight seasons as a Sixer, Barkley made six All-Star games and averaged 23.3 points and 11.6 rebounds. He made the NBA Finals with the Suns and was named MVP in 1993, the season after he was traded from the Sixers. 

The team unveiled a statue of Barkley on Legends Walk in September at their practice facility in Camden, New Jersey. Never hesitant to speak his mind, he doubled down on calling the Sixers the “stupidest organization in the history of sports” for having Joel Embiid play through a back injury last January and said not taking Brad Daugherty No. 1 in the 1986 NBA Draft was “the biggest mistake the Sixers ever made."

Barkley still looks back fondly on his time as a Sixer while acknowledging things often weren’t smooth or painless.

“This is not an easy city,” he said in September, “but it’s an amazing city to play in because if you bust your hump, they’re giving to give you nothing but love. Now, if you don’t bust your hump, you’re going to think, ‘Charles Barkley, you suck.’ You’re going to think that’s your middle name.”

As a footnote, the Sixers beat the Warriors on the night of Barkley’s jersey retirement for their 50th win of the season. Allen Iverson had 35 points and nine assists, while Tyrone Hill scored 21.

“You see someone as tough as Charles Barkley try to hold in his tears, that’s a moment that I’ll never forget,” Iverson told reporters. “It just looked great. It looked like something that I’d definitely want to be a part of.”

Iverson’s No. 3 would be retired nearly 14 years later. 

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