Sixers

Dealing with injuries at center, how will Sixers handle young Thunder?

Sixers

The Sixers are back on the road for two games before a four-game homestand at Wells Fargo Center starting Thursday.

A bit of news ahead of the Sixers’ matchup Sunday with the Thunder: First-round pick Jaden Springer has been assigned to the Delaware Blue Coats, the team’s G League affiliate. The 19-year-old will be at Delaware’s training camp, which starts Monday. The Blue Coats, who took guard Shamorie Ponds with the No. 1 overall pick in Saturday’s G League draft, will open their season Nov. 6 against the Long Island Nets.

As for the Sixers-Oklahoma City game, here are the essentials: 

  • When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. 
  • Where: Paycom Center   
  • Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
  • Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com

And here are three storylines to watch: 

Injured centers 

Paul Reed didn’t play Friday against Brooklyn, but he looks set to receive substantial minutes in Oklahoma City.

Big men Andre Drummond (right ankle sprain — out) and Joel Embiid (right knee soreness — questionable) are hurt. Ben Simmons (personal reasons), Shake Milton (right ankle sprain) and Grant Riller (left knee injury recovery) are still sidelined. 

Rookie Charles Bassey and usual backup power forward Georges Niang are two potential center options other than Reed. Niang did play small-ball five minutes during the preseason and has said he’s willing to fill that role if asked. A positive way to view the situation for Sixers head coach Doc Rivers is there could be opportunities to experiment and learn more about young players against the rebuilding Thunder. 

Backcourt production 

Through two games, Seth Curry has made 13 of 17 field goals and 6 of 7 three-pointers. Dating back to the Sixers’ second-round series last postseason against the Hawks, Curry is 62.7 percent from long range over his last nine games.

 

Tyrese Maxey hasn’t matched Curry’s marksmanship, but he’s been good as Simmons’ replacement in the starting lineup, especially in second halves. Maxey’s 25 points after halftime lead the Sixers. In 70 minutes this season, he’s committed one turnover. 

Neither Curry nor Maxey are comparable to Simmons defensively, but both have been strong early overall. 

“He’s been solid,” Curry said Friday of Maxey, “playing hard both ends of the floor, good activity defensively, and being aggressive offensively. He’s getting into the paint, making plays. You can tell he’s getting better seeing the floor. So it’s good progress from him.”

OKC full of youngsters 

Oklahoma City’s roster is packed with intriguing players in their early 20s and younger, among them Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort, No. 6 overall pick Josh Giddey and Villanova product Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. 

The results so far have been rough as OKC lost by 21 points to the Jazz and 33 to the Rockets. 

It’s not a bad night to be shorthanded at center, since Oklahoma City is an undersized team likely at its best playing a fast-paced style. Sunday's game will be the Thunder's first with home fans in attendance in 600 days.