Jonah Bolden

Joel Embiid (left knee soreness) and JJ Redick (back tightness) out for Sixers' game against Heat

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AP Images/Elise Amendola

Joel Embiid (left knee soreness) and JJ Redick (back tightness) out for Sixers' game against Heat

The Sixers have the third seed in the Eastern Conference locked up and nothing to play for. Unsurprisingly, two of their starters won’t be playing Tuesday night.

Joel Embiid (left knee soreness) and JJ Redick (back tightness) are listed as out on the NBA’s official injury report for Tuesday’s game against the Heat.

Embiid noted he felt “pretty sore” after recording a triple-double in the Sixers’ loss to the Bucks Thursday, though he did play almost 28 minutes Saturday when the Sixers beat the Bulls and posted 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Redick hasn’t missed a game since Feb. 5, when he sat out vs. the Raptors because of nausea. He’s averaged 27 points and shot 47.5 percent from three-point range over his last four games.

James Ennis remains out with a right quad contusion, while Jonah Bolden (sore left knee) and Furkan Korkmaz are listed as questionable.

Since Feb. 12, when he tore the meniscus in his right knee, Korkmaz has been sidelined. He went through extensive shooting drills before the Sixers played the Bucks on Thursday.

A part of “the tournament” for bench minutes off the wing before his injury, there’s still a chance Korkmaz could re-enter that conversation, even at this late stage.

With Ennis out, Korkmaz's competition is Zhaire Smith, who has four games of NBA experience, and Jonathon Simmons, who’s recently been relegated almost exclusively to the bench. As a two-way player, rookie Shake Milton is currently not eligible for the playoffs.

Korkmaz theoretically provides shooting off the bench, although he's yet to fulfill his promise as a three-point marksman at the NBA level. He's averaged 5.8 points and 2.3 rebounds in 46 games this season, shooting 33.1 percent from three-point territory.

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With James Ennis out, will Zhaire Smith have a playoff role? And what about Jonathon Simmons?

With James Ennis out, will Zhaire Smith have a playoff role? And what about Jonathon Simmons?

It feels like years ago that the Sixers acquired veterans Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala to fortify their bench.

With Game 81 approaching, Chandler and Muscala are gone. So are Markelle Fultz (remember when he was a starter?) and promising rookie Landry Shamet. Two blockbuster trades for stars and a couple other moves have left the Sixers thin.

With just two games remaining, Brett Brown still has a few things to sort out. Brown has said he’d like to keep his playoff rotation to nine, but will he be able to?

The injury to James Ennis, who won “the tournament” over Jonathon Simmons after both players were acquired at the trade deadline, has certainly thrown a wrench in things. Ennis is dealing with a right quad contusion and will miss at least a couple first-round playoff games.

Just having Simmons take over the role seemed like an option, but Zhaire Smith has apparently given Brown something to think about.

I think he moves his feet at an elite rate,” Brown said to reporters postgame Saturday. “I think defensively he’s extremely gifted now. Offensively, he’s starting to make a three from time to time, but he’s trying to find his balance. Defensively, I could see him coming in and not hurting you, even at age 19 and playing [four] NBA games. I think he can be a solid defensive player almost immediately. The offensive side of it will come.

It’s curious that Simmons has basically played himself out of minutes. Frankly, he wasn’t great for the stretch he played, but he’s still an NBA veteran that has played — and excelled — in playoff games. He’s a good perimeter defender, something the Sixers desperately need. But offensively, he doesn’t shoot the ball well and doesn’t look quite as explosive as he did with the Magic and Spurs.

Smith, on the other hand, is as explosive as it gets. His two calling cards coming out of Texas Tech were his freakish athleticism and traits as a defender. He’s flashed both of those things with the Sixers, but at times looks like a 19-year-old that’s played only four NBA games.

As of now, it appears the rookie has a leg up on the vet.

“I think you’d say that right now,” Brown said. “Some of it is not Jonathon’s fault. I have made a coaching decision. That’s what I’ve done. I think the next few games, you will see Jonathon and we’ll give that a look again, but we’re on sort of speed dial and cramming to see what goes on with these bench positions after the injury happened to James and getting those guys back.”

The first wing off the bench isn’t the only thing still in flux. The backup center situation is still murky. Boban Marjanovic has the experience. Jonah Bolden has the traits. But who gives the Sixers the best option behind Joel Embiid? 

Recently, Brown has experimented with using Bolden as a four. It’s intriguing because Bolden has the quick feet to get out on stretch fours and can get hot from three. It also allows them to move Tobias Harris to a wing, which could help quell some of the concerns with Ennis out.

“I can play Jonah at a four and slide Tobias back to a three,” Brown said. “So I wouldn’t dump water on [the idea of Smith playing in the playoffs] entirely. I think that’s how we’re thinking about his possible role in the playoffs, but just to have him available, is really, especially with James’ injury, good news.”

The situation obviously isn’t ideal. The Sixers have a star-studded starting five that’s barely played together and a bench still in flux.

So what is Brown going to do? He has Tuesday and Wednesday night’s games to figure it out before the stakes are real.

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

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

The Sixers (49-30) are back in action against the Chicago Bulls (22-57) for the first game of their final road trip of the regular season. Jimmy Butler (back tightness) is out while Joel Embiid (left knee soreness) remains a game-time decision. The Bulls have won just four of their past 16 games, and one of those wins was their last matchup against the Sixers, on March 6.

Here are the essentials for tonight's game:

When: 8 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 7 p.m.
Where: United Center 
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus 
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

Here are three storylines to watch: 

Greg Monroe set to debut 

Whether or not Embiid plays tonight, head coach Brett Brown says he intends to give Monroe time. The Sixers signed the nine-year veteran center, after waiving Justin Patton, with the intention of adding a veteran presence come playoff time. Many have questioned what adding another center could provide, and tonight we’ll get our first look at Monroe.

Zhaire Smith steps into the spotlight

With the news that James Ennis III will be sidelined for at least two weeks with a quad contusion, Brown’s already thin bench has become even thinner. In Thursday night’s loss to Milwaukee, rookie Zhaire Smith played over 17 minutes, finishing with six points and three rebounds (which is absolutely bonkers if you know Smith’s story). With Shake Milton ineligible for the playoffs (two-way contract) and Jonathon Simmons seemingly out of the rotation (Brown has opted to go with both Milton and Smith over Simmons as of late), Smith could actually be called upon in the postseason. Smith won’t be able to make up a season’s worth of experience in a few games, but the more time he gets, the better.

Jonah Bolden's role 

As the season winds down, Brown is still figuring out the best way to utilize Jonah Bolden — and keep him out of foul trouble. Expect for Bolden to continue to get opportunities at the four tonight, which means Tobias Harris slide to a three in certain rotations. 

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