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

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

The Sixers (26-14) will look to keep their winning streak intact Tuesday night with the Wizards (14-26) in town. 

• 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

The Wizards are coming in with some confidence, coming off a huge win on the road, beating the Thunder, 115-98, behind a 25-point night from Bradley Beal.

The Sixers should have a couple of extra bodies as Jimmy Butler and Wilson Chandler both participated in Monday’s practice after sitting out the last two games with an upper respiratory infection. 

Here are three storylines to watch for in tonight’s game:

Thomas Bryant vs. Joel Embiid

Bryant has a tough challenge ahead of him, starting against the Eastern Conference Player of the Week. Embiid has been on an absolute tear this season, especially in first halves. The reason I make the first half distinction is because that is where Bryant has struggled going up against the likes of Steven Adams and Hassan Whiteside in his last two matchups. 

This isn’t Bryant’s first go at Embiid. In their first matchup, he limited him to 4 of 10 shooting while on the floor together, but Embiid dominated the boards, finishing with 15 rebounds. As a team, the Sixers outrebounded Washington, 58-42. No reason to veer from that game plan.

Not giving up big leads

It’s been a theme of this season. The Sixers get out in front with a huge lead, only to see it dwindle, and as Embiid likes to say, "make it interesting" at the end. Brett Brown said after last game that the connection between this in previous games has been two-fold:

1. “Purpose-less offense,” (i.e. just dumping the ball to Embiid and expecting him to take them home), which produces turnovers. 

2. Disconnect defensively on switches, which has especially led to opponent threes. 

The Sixers were able to hold on to a big lead against the Wizards in the first matchup, which allowed for some rest for the starters in the fourth. Will they be able to do it again?

Will the Ben Simmons jump shots continue?

Simmons taking jump shots — though in small doses — has been a welcome addition to the offense. Brown has said it’s needed to get it to where it wants to go, but that it’s going to come on Simmons’ terms. It’s looking like it’s the beginning of it coming on his terms. I’m not worried about whether Simmons makes them right now. As long as he keeps shooting them, that’s a good sign. 

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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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