76ers

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

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

The Sixers (25-16) last lost at the Wells Fargo Center on Dec. 20. Since then, they’ve gone 1-6 on the road.

Wednesday night, they’re home to face the 18-21 Brooklyn Nets.

Here are the essentials:

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

And here are three storylines to watch: 

Irving sharp since his return 

Kyrie Irving is back after missing 26 games because of a right shoulder injury, and he’s totaled 53 points on 22 for 30 shooting (73.3 percent) and 15 assists in the two games since his return.

Without Irving, the Nets beat the Sixers by 20 points on Dec. 15 in Brooklyn, led by Spencer Dinwiddie’s 24 points. Joel Embiid was out that game because of an upper respiratory infection. He’s now sidelined after undergoing surgery Friday for a torn ligament in his left hand.

A strategic note to watch from that last meeting is Brooklyn played off Ben Simmons to an extreme, sometimes guarding him below the foul line while he was behind the arc. Simmons finished with 20 points, five rebounds and three assists. 

Halfway there 

Below are the Sixers’ records from the first 41 games over the past four seasons:

2016-17: 15-26
2017-18: 21-20
2018-19: 27-14
2019-20: 25-16

They of course had a 16-game winning streak to end the 2017-18 season, which enabled them to earn 52 wins and the No. 3 seed in the East. The February additions of Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova were key in that run.

While this year’s team begins the second half with a better record than the 2017-18 team, it’s looking more and more like they’ll need that kind of impactful external help. They’re sixth in the Eastern Conference, 10.5 games behind the Bucks and 3.5 games behind the No. 2 seed Celtics. 

It’s hard to win like that … 

In their losses to the Mavs and Pacers, the Sixers shot 15 of 70 (21.4 percent) from three-point range. While they actually led both games by nine at halftime, it’s very difficult to win in the modern NBA with shooting performances that abysmal.

The Sixers also put themselves in a difficult spot by allowing Indiana and Dallas to attempt a combined 58 foul shots and taking just 29. They’re 24th this season in free throw attempts per game (21.6) and 20th in foul shots conceded (24.2). 

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Matisse Thybulle is a much better defender in real life than in NBA2K

twitch_matisse_thybulle_mikal_bridges.jpg

Matisse Thybulle is a much better defender in real life than in NBA2K

Matisse Thybulle is known for his defense in real life. In NBA2K, that is definitely not the case.

With the NBA season suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak, Thybulle and the Suns’ Mikal Bridges played each other in 2K on Friday night and streamed the action on Twitch.

Though Thybulle gave Bridges a little bit of a scare with a big third quarter, the virtual Suns beat the virtual Sixers, 75-64. 

While the intensity obviously didn’t compare to a typical game night at Wells Fargo Center, both Thybulle and Bridges — a Villanova product and a Sixer for about 20 minutes before a draft-night trade two years ago — were very into it.

Thyulle decided to sub himself into the game after just 28 seconds, and Bridges did the same 30 seconds later. 

“Which one’s shoot again?,” he asked. “Square?” 

As his team fell behind, Thybulle had some stern words for his players.

“Al, you’re better than that,” he said when Al Horford bit on a pump fake. “You’ve been in the league too long to be making those mistakes.” 

When Ben Simmons had a floater blocked, Thybulle wasn’t thrilled. 

“Ben, you’re 7-foot,” he said. “Just dunk it.” 

And a Mike Scott lay-up early in the third wasn’t what Thybulle was hoping to see. 

At one point, he tried begging for mercy from Bridges.

“Stop running pick-and-roll, I don’t know how to guard it,” he said. “Please. Come on, man.” 

Unfortunately for Thybulle, Bridges did not stop and the rookie left with a loss, albeit an entertaining one.

“I apologize to the Sixers, to my family, my friends, the people of Philadelphia,” he said. “This is not acceptable.” 

After personally finishing with no points on 0 for 3 shooting, Thybulle promised he'll be practicing.



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Josh Richardson bests Devin Booker in Sixers' NBA2K simulation win over Suns

Josh Richardson bests Devin Booker in Sixers' NBA2K simulation win over Suns

Even in a video game, the Sixers’ dominance at home continues.

Thanks to some stifling fourth-quarter defense, the Sixers took down the Suns, 76-62, in a simulation on NBA2K Friday.

Led by Josh Richardson and Al Horford, the Sixers went on a 13-4 run in the final period to seal the victory.

Here are observations from the virtual win:

J-Rich outduels Booker

Richardson was given the defensive assignment of trying to contain the high-scoring Devin Booker. Booker, who hung 40 on the Sixers in a real-life game in Phoenix back in November, got off to a hot start.

But so did Richardson.

The difference was the fourth quarter where Booker appeared to be laboring … at least that’s what the little Gatorade cup that popped up next to him would indicate.

It was Richardson’s strip on a Booker drive and lay in on the other end that sparked the Sixers’ fourth quarter run and helped put the game out of reach.

While Booker posted a game-high 27, he wasn’t very efficient, going 10 of 24 from the field. Richardson, on the other hand, had a team-high 22 points on 8 of 12 from the field and 3 of 3 from three. He also added four assists and two steals.

Embiid quiet offensively

If the Sixers deployed the offensive strategy in real life that they did in this sim, Brett Brown would have a lot of explaining to do.

The Sixers never really looked for Joel Embiid in the post until late in the game, where the All-Star center provided two big buckets. He only scored 10 points, but pulled in 15 rebounds and challenged a ton of shots at the rim.

Embiid’s speed rating must be like a 10 because he had trouble getting back on defense all night. There was also a moment where 2K color analyst Greg Anthony compared Phoenix’s DeAndre Ayton to Embiid … which certainly is a take.

Horford and Harris solid

Al Horford pounded the Suns’ bigs early, make 4 of his 5 shots from the field. He cooled off a little in the third, but buried a hook shot over former teammate Aron Baynes to extend the Sixers’ lead to seven before the period ended.

It was on the defensive end down the stretch where Horford shined in this one. He came up with a big steal and rumbled down the other end for a layup to give the Sixers’ their first double-digit lead. A couple possessions later he came up with a big block on Ayton which led to an Embiid bucket on the other end to put the Sixers up 12. Horford finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.

Harris scuffled early and wasn’t really aggressive and looking to score. In the second half, he started cutting to the basket and looking for shots around the rim. He ended up with 16 points on 6 of 11. He also came up with two on-ball blocks after being switched onto Booker.


Sorry, Dario

Former Sixer and fan favorite Dario Saric had a tough night dealing with his former mates. Going up against the likes of Embiid and Horford, Saric scored just two points in 17 minutes.

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