76ers

Mikal Bridges says he would be 'perfect fit' for Sixers after workout

Mikal Bridges says he would be 'perfect fit' for Sixers after workout

CAMDEN, N.J. — Mikal Bridges is a familiar face to the Sixers.

He won championships with the Villanova Wildcats, played high school ball locally at Great Valley High School, and his mother works in the Sixers' organization.

The team had a good idea of what it would see when the 6-foot-7, 210-pound Bridges participated in an individual workout Tuesday, and he performed to those expectations. 

“In terms of the way we play pace, space, defend, I think he checks a lot of those boxes,” Sixers vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley said. “His length, his quickness, his athleticism, his ability to shoot the ball, those are all things I thought he did, not only throughout his career, but he did today as well.”

After averaging 17.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists last season as a junior, Bridges is a prospect for the Sixers’ No. 10 pick. Continuing his career as an NBA player close to home would have a special meaning for the 21-year-old. 

“When I was younger, my mom, my dad, my grandparents would always take me to games,” Bridges said. “It's really cool seeing what they've been doing and how well-coached they are and how hard they play, how talented they are. It would just be the perfect fit.” 

Even before he took the court at the Sixers’ training complex, it was easy for Bridges to envision himself fitting in with his hometown team. 

“They like to play tough and defense, defense first, and that's how I play,” Bridges said. “Also, you’ve got Ben [Simmons] and Joel [Embiid] … I feel like a person like me can correlate them just when Ben goes in ball screens or transition that I’m that guy you can find in the corner or that’s going to cut to the basket, just move without the ball well for them. The same with Embiid. Just create space for them.”

Last season, Bridges showcased his growing potential by increasing his three-point shooting from 39.3 percent to 43.5 percent. He’s not stopping there. Bridges notes ball-handling, playmaking and shooting off the bounce as his biggest improvements since the college season ended. 

Bridges’ workout included 100 three-point attempts and 1-on-1 work with Sixers coaches. His session was individualized at the request of his representation. 

“I thought he did a great job,” Eversley said. 

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Sixers 121, Rockets 93: Joel Embiid dominates in convincing win over James Harden and company

Sixers 121, Rockets 93: Joel Embiid dominates in convincing win over James Harden and company

BOX SCORE

On a night the MVP favorite was in the building, the Sixers’ MVP put on a show.

Joel Embiid was dominant in a 121-93 drubbing of James Harden and the Rockets on Monday, Martin Luther King Day, at the Wells Fargo Center. 

The Sixers did so without the services of Jimmy Butler who has a “slight sprain” in his right wrist. 

The win improves them to 20-5 at home and 31-17 overall. They're also in the midst of a brutal 12-game stretch in which they've started 2-1.

Here are observations from the victory:

• Embiid was sensational. There was no chance Nene or newcomer Kenneth Faried was stopping him Monday night. Then again, the way he was playing, there may not have been anyone in the league that could’ve stopped Embiid.

From a physical standpoint, this is the best Embiid has looked since we found out about his back tightness last Thursday before the Pacers game. With the way Harden has played, it’ll be hard for anyone else to win the award, but Embiid certainly looked the part of an MVP Monday — especially if defense is a factor.

Embiid definitely relished the matchup, finishing with 32 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks in just 26 minutes.

• Unless you’ve been living under rock, you know that Harden has been playing at an insane level. Coming in, he averaged 44.4 points on 17.4 attempts from three and 13.9 from the free throw line since Jan. 1. 

You’re not going to stop him, but Brett Brown did everything he could to try to slow down and frustrate him. Corey Brewer, who started in place of Jimmy Butler, got the first crack at his former teammate. Harden also saw Wilson Chandler, Ben Simmons and T.J. McConnell.

As a team, it did as good of a job as you can do, but a ton of credit has to go to McConnell. He seemed to get under the MVP candidate’s skin and recorded a steal and a block in the first quarter.

Harden still got his, putting up 37 points on 12 of 26 from the field. The Rockets were also without two starters in point guard Chris Paul (strained left hamstring) and big man Clint Capela (right thumb).

• Brewer, who is with the Sixers on a 10-day contract, gave the team a boost. He air-balled a three on his first shot attempt, but converted on a nice baseline drive on his very next touch.

He managed to agitate Harden as well. During a sequence in the second quarter, Harden stuck his head right into Brewer’s chest as both players trailed the play. Unfortunately, no official saw it. Then with time running out in the half, Harden gave Brewer a shove and a foul was called. The two are friends, but you wouldn’t have known it.

All of the action elicited chants of “Cor-ey Bre-wer” from the crowd. Only in Philly …

It’s an incredibly small sample size and nothing in the box score will blow you away, but Brewer has already showed enough in a short stint to deserve a longer look. He’s 32 now, but he hasn’t lost one bit of his explosiveness. Brown mentioned when they signed Brewer that he could see the veteran wing flying up the court with Simmons. You saw it vs. the Rockets.

He’s an improvement over anything the Sixers can provide off the bench with his athleticism and the ability to defend on the wing. Plus, he seems to have fit right into the team's culture.

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Sixers stock watch: Contributions from Joel Embiid, Jonah Bolden, but T.J. McConnell, Landry Shamet struggling on D

Sixers stock watch: Contributions from Joel Embiid, Jonah Bolden, but T.J. McConnell, Landry Shamet struggling on D

There’s never a dull moment with the Sixers.

After barely escaping Madison Square Garden with a win, they crushed the Timberwolves and took care of the Pacers before suffering a heartbreaking loss to the Thunder.

The Sixers are now two games into their 12-game gauntlet and are 1-1.

Here’s this week’s stock watch:

Stock up

Joel Embiid

It was yet another impressive week for the All-Star center, who looks like a shoo-in to be back in this year’s game. In four games last week, Embiid averaged 27.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.8 blocks. 

While Embiid continues to dominate in the post and patrol the paint at an elite level, his three-point shooting has really improved. He’s shooting 39 percent from three over his last 11 games. Defenders go for his pump fake when he’s missing. Imagine what happens if he keeps making them.

All of this while dealing with a tight back that’s forced him to be a game-time decision for two straight games. It’s going to be tough to get the big man a break over this stretch. 

MVP favorite James Harden is in the building Monday for a nationally televised game. Then the Sixers play the Spurs, a team that waxed them just a month ago. That’s followed by a matchup against Nikola Jokic, one Embiid will not want to miss.

Jonah Bolden

Another mention for the rookie in this space because of a new dimension he’s shown: being able to play minutes as a backup five. It’s a role that doesn’t need to be huge given how many minutes Embiid plays, but Bolden's been impactful for the Sixers over the past week.

The move has allowed Mike Muscala to play more four and Wilson Chandler to play more three. It also just gives the Sixers a different dynamic off the bench. Bolden is extremely athletic — something the bench sorely needed — and plays with a ton of energy. Bolden has been a huge part of the team’s recent success.

Stock down

The bench guards

T.J. McConnell and Landry Shamet have helped the team this season. McConnell has given the Sixers a big spark at times and is an unquestioned leader. Shamet, who nobody even considered for a rotation spot when he was drafted 26th overall, is shooting threes at an elite level (40 percent).

Neither player is giving the team what it needs defensively. It was evident during the loss to Oklahoma City that neither McConnell nor Shamet had the athleticism or size to compete with the Thunder’s guards. 

Both players have had their moments this season, but don’t be surprised to see Elton Brand upgrade at both spots.

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