76ers

Sixers' week ahead: Well-deserved rest for Joel Embiid, don't overreact to Tobias Harris' struggles and more

Sixers' week ahead: Well-deserved rest for Joel Embiid, don't overreact to Tobias Harris' struggles and more

Off the heels of their biggest win of the season, the Sixers will have to play a game without their “crown jewel.”

“Sixers 3.0” should be back together as they try to conquer their Boston demons and head back out on the road against an improved Atlanta team.

Let’s take a look at the Sixers’ week ahead.

No Embiid in Charlotte

After a clutch 40-point performance in which he also spent a good portion of the game guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo, this seems like as good a time as any to get Joel Embiid some rest.

The Hornets are falling out of the playoff picture and they’re a team the Sixers should be able to beat without Embiid. Kemba Walker did hang 60 on them earlier this season, but the Sixers still won that game. Walker has also slowed down after a torrid start, shooting just 40 percent from the field and 32 percent from three over his last 13 games.

There are only 12 games left in the regular season, but the Sixers’ schedule does soften up. You can expect Embiid and possibly other veterans to get rest days when appropriate. Delivering their starting five to the postseason healthy is — and should — be the team's top priority.

Don’t overreact to starters ‘struggling’

Tobias Harris is averaging just 16.8 points and shooting 32 percent from three over his last eight, which means we should totally freak out and panic, right? Nope. Not even close.

Before Harris’ “slump,” it was Jimmy Butler that everyone was freaking out about. Then Butler went out and had two very good offensive performances against the Kings and Bucks. Everyone also lost their minds when JJ Redick was struggling after the All-Star break. He’s shooting 58 percent from three over his last four.

It’s understandably hard to ride the ebbs and flows of an 82-game season, but that’s why you go out and get Butler and Harris. This team has multiple options now. Harris will have moments to shine — as will Redick, Butler, Ben Simmons and, of course, Embiid.

No luck vs. C’s

The Sixers’ recent struggles against the Celtics are no secret. 

The most important thing to remember is that this is the not the same team that lost to Boston in five games in the playoffs last season. This is not the same team that lost to them on opening night or in overtime on Christmas. This isn’t even the same team that lost by three to the Celtics before the All-Star break.

If everyone is present and accounted for, Wednesday will mark just the eighth game for this version of the Sixers. As Sunday’s win in Milwaukee showed, this team can be scary. It’s another stiff test, but one this iteration of the Sixers can pass if they’re clicking on all cylinders.

Young Hawks can be dangerous

The Hawks are a rebuilding team, but that doesn’t mean the Sixers can take them lightly. They have played better basketball recently as rookie Trae Young has started getting acclimated to the NBA. Young is averaging 25.3 points and 8.2 assists while shooting 42 percent from three since the All-Star break.

We also can’t forget about Kevin Huerter, who dropped a rookie career-high 29 points in a win over the Sixers back on Jan. 11. Second-year forward John Collins also hit a big shot late in that game and has had a strong sophomore campaign overall.

Granted, Embiid didn’t play in that matchup, but the point is, the Sixers can’t afford to take Atlanta lightly. Perhaps the Sixers will feel like they owe the young Hawks one.

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Uh Oh: Stephen A. Smith is predicting HUGE things for Sixers this season

Uh Oh: Stephen A. Smith is predicting HUGE things for Sixers this season

Stephen A. Smith's track record of predicting things is suspect to say the least.

So it's with great trepidation that Philadelphia 76ers fans should watch the below clip in which he predicts an NBA Finals appearance for Brett Brown's club this coming season.

Smith made the prediction on ESPN's First Take on Friday morning while sitting alongside NBA legend Magic Johnson (the joke about tampering with Giannis may have been the highlight of the segment).

"The Philadelphia 76ers are going to the NBA Finals," Smith declares. "I'm going to defer to my man Jalen Rose when he points out that Boston arguably has the best perimeter shooting team. We can't ignore that. Toronto lost Kawhi, ain't nothing to discuss. The Greek Freak, as phenomenal as he is, the combo of not having a reliable perimeter shot combined with Malcolm Brogdon being in Indiana..."

"My attitude is, I don't like the fact that Philly lost JJ Redick, that's a big loss to me," Smith continues. "The fact that Boston no longer has Al Horford and the Sixers do, not only somebody to pair with Embiid but to spell him whenever he's out. I'm going to believe Ben Simmons has been working on his shot. I'm going to believe Tobias Harris doesn't have to worry about co-existing with Jimmy Butler and that's a plus. I'm going to believe Josh Richardson can play at both ends of the floor..."

"I'm a little suspect on their bench, but I think the Sixers are going to be playing in June."

On the bright side for Philly fans, it's not like Smith is making some bold proclamation here. FiveThirtyEight's prediction model actually gives the Sixers the best chances of making the Finals of any team in the NBA given the East's weaker make up than the West. In fact, they give the Sixers almost twice as good a chance of doing so than the next closest Eastern contender the Bucks (54% vs. 27%).

So Stephen A. isn't going out on a limb, but it never feels great when he picks your squad in anything.

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Sixers tease new red Statement jerseys that differ from last season's

76ers_red_statement_jersey.jpg
@ChrisHeck76

Sixers tease new red Statement jerseys that differ from last season's

The Sixers' Statement Edition jerseys last year were the red uniforms that said "Sixers" across the front in an interesting script. It appears those jerseys will be different for the 2019-2020 season.

Chris Heck, President of the Sixers and Mr. #OnBrand, tweeted out an image of the new jerseys that look quite similar to last season's but instead of "Sixers" across the front they have the familiar "Phila" in script.

Give it a look below:

The jerseys also have the familiar stars down the side of the jersey. The team hasn't made an official announcement just yet so it's unclear what other details may have changed from season to season.

This Statement Edition will join the two regular jerseys, Icon Edition (standard blue) and Association Edition (standard white), alongside the recently unveiled Classic Edition jerseys that feature a throwback to the 70s look with that very interesting "Seventy Sixers" across the front and Ben Simmons sitting in a dope old-school car.

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