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Sixers at Pacers: 3 storylines to watch and how to live stream the game

Sixers at Pacers: 3 storylines to watch and how to live stream the game

Updated: 6:34 p.m. 

The Sixers (29-16) will make their second trip to Bankers Life Fieldhouse this season to take on the Indiana Pacers (29-14), who currently hold the best record in the NBA since Dec. 1. 

Here are the essentials for tonight's matchup:

• When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
• Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse
• Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
• Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch: 

Indiana’s defense

The Pacers are one of the top defensive teams in the NBA this season, allowing the fewest points at home (97.0), with opponents shooting just 41.9 percent at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. On top of that, their 9.2 steals per game are third in the NBA and their 16.5 turnovers forced are fourth. The only part of their defense that’s not elite is defending the three (they allow 32.1 attempts per game), so a key to tonight’s game will be finding a way to keep that three-point shooting rolling like the Sixers did the other night against Minnesota.

Jo Jo threes

If it’s felt like Joel Embiid has been knocking down more threes, that’s because he certainly has. Over his past nine games (since Christmas), Embiid is shooting 44.1 percent from three, a huge increase from 27.6 percent over his first 33 games. Brown said in a perfect world, the Sixers would want Embiid to play inside more, but that’s just not the reality of the NBA, or the reality of their team when Ben Simmons also has the freedom to play inside. Brown has been really happy with Embiid’s commitment to shooting better from the perimeter and attributes it to a better balance he’s been able to find.

Wilson Chandler at the wing

Expect to see Brown continue to experiment more with Chandler at the three, like we saw against Minnesota. Brown said he thinks Chandler seems to get more involved on the wing and that the Sixers are a better rebounding team with him at that position. The tough part is, play calls at the three and four are very different from each other, so that will be a learning process for Chandler as he interchanges between the two positions.

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Annelie Schmittel's path to becoming the Sixers VP of player development

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Philadelphia 76ers

Annelie Schmittel's path to becoming the Sixers VP of player development

When Annelie Schmittel was growing up in the small town of Zell, Germany, her father always thought she would work in sports. 

Schmittel, on the other hand — who was a high jumper in college at Winona State University in Minnesota — was pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism and was on a path to becoming a foreign journalist or news correspondent. 

Schmittel also never thought her one year of studying abroad as a high school foreign exchange student in Black River Farms, Wisconsin, would turn into 14 years in the United States, and lead her to become the Sixers VP of player development.

 “This is part of this whole thing now,” Schmittel said, “being able to show other people or young girls or industry leaders in sports and other male-dominated fields that, if the Sixers can do this, and open up this kind of opportunity to a female, there is no reason that they shouldn't.”

Like many who grow up playing sports, when she stopped competing, she realized how much she missed that environment. While completing her master's degree in sports management, she started to realize she could help athletes.

When Schmittel started her research in college athletics, it was when Twitter had just started to become a thing. And Schmittel started to see a lot of her student-athletes tweet things that shouldn’t be in a public forum.

Whereas most colleges and coaches wanted to simply ban their athletes from using social media, Schmittel was focused on how to use it properly — how athletes could use their own platform and their own voice positively.

Schmittel dove into her research, on the quest for expertise that could set her apart from all of the former male athletes that were usually chosen for player development positions. 

Once she got to the University of Florida to earn her Ph.D., she was interested in crisis communication — what happens when athletes get in trouble and how can they repair their image? 

After months of emails and meetings and uncertainty, Schmittel landed a job in player engagement with the Raiders. That same year the NFL had just transitioned away from hosting the rookie symposium and teams took control of their own programs. 

Schmittel helped build the curriculum for the Raiders so the players could learn more about things like finances and social media usage. She organized trips to places like Facebook headquarters, so they could gain a deeper understanding. 

All of this prepped her for when she would stumble across the Sixers job posting. Despite not looking to leave the Raiders or the NFL, the Sixers intrigued her. 

You are always looking for teams that are going through change, that are innovative by nature. How much the Sixers were investing in the people that work here and the culture and the types of people that they bring in … I felt like it was a place where the leadership felt really strongly about player development and the role that it plays, not only off the court [but] on it, and that’s unique and impressive and exciting.

It was more than just Schmittel’s experience in the NFL — though that was a big part of it — that put her above the rest of the 550 applicants. 

“I've been in the NBA for 12 years, and that was far and away the most important hire I've ever done,” said Alex Rucker, executive vice president of basketball operations. “At its core level, player development is about relationships and trust, being able to work with people in an intimate way. This is stuff we really, really care about and we're passionate about, so how do we work together? Because that kind of an ecosystem often creates friction and can become an adversarial thing, simply because we care so much, and her ability to navigate that in a really safe and positive way is really interesting.”

While with the Raiders, each program was tailored to the teams' needs and what they felt like the player needed at that point in their career, something she’d like to do here.

“It’s not a player development program for the Sixers,” Rucker explained. “It's 17 different player development programs for 17 athletes and they are wildly different, and our ability to win championships almost relies entirely on those 17 individuals …

“And that's Annelie's core strength really, is seeing the bigger picture and everyone's role within it.”

And what about that whole being a female in a male-dominated industry?

When I took this job, I didn't even consciously think about what having a female in this position, what kind of attention that alone could cause. And I say this often, I look forward to the day, when a female gets a position, any job, whether it's in sports media, or in a sports leadership position or in any male dominated field, where it is no longer ‘Wow, they hired a woman,’ but the stories become they hired the best person for that particular job. 

But on the flip side, it's been really humbling and exciting and mind blowing, how many messages, I've received from young girls or from dads saying, ‘Hey, I'm raising a daughter and I just want you to know that you are a role model, and I would like to know what I can do to raise my daughter so that she can get a role like yours.’ So if me being in this role can help a young girl at home or somebody that is on this path working towards pro sports or collegiate sports, or any male dominated field, if they can see me as an example and say ‘OK, this is somebody that did it, so I can do it too.’ Then, that is awesome.

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

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

There are an abundance of storylines to look out for as the Sixers (28-16) play the Timberwolves (21-22) at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night.

Here are the essentials for the game. 

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

And here are our three storylines to watch.

The return

All eyes will be on Jimmy Butler as he matches up against his former team for the first time tonight. Since Butler made it clear he wanted out of Minnesota, there will be a lot of attention surrounding the current Sixers shooting guard. Butler has not made any recent comments about tonight’s matchup.

The return 2.0

It will also be Robert Covington and Dario Saric’s return to Wells Fargo Center, but Covington is sidelined with a right ankle injury. T.J. McConnell said it will be weird to see Covington and Saric in different uniforms, and Joel Embiid said there is a humorous locker room void without Saric. I think the fans of Philadelphia will also have a special place in their hearts for both of these two guys, and I’m excited to see what the fans do when Saric checks into the game for the first time.

Marc Zumoff’s 25 years!

The Sixers are celebrating Marc Zumoff’s 25 years as the Sixers' play-by-play announcer, which means we’ve got a lot of surprises in store on our broadcast tonight! Zumoff will be calling his 1,883rd regular season game tonight and will ring the ceremonial Liberty Bell just before tip. Stay glued to the broadcast, because we have so many fun things to share with you!

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