Updated: 5:17 p.m.
The biggest storyline right now with the Sixers is obviously the Jimmy Butler trade.
But before Butler arrives, the shorthanded Sixers have a basketball game to play Saturday night in Memphis.
Butler isn’t expected to make his Sixers debut until Wednesday in Orlando. Until then, we’ll see what the Sixers look like without Dario Saric and Robert Covington, and perhaps start to get a sense of the implications of the trade on Brett Brown’s rotation. With Wilson Chandler still on a minutes restriction and Mike Muscala out with a fractured nose and facial laceration, Jonah Bolden is one player who will likely step into a more significant role.
Once Butler does join the Sixers, here's how he might fit with the team.
• The Sixers are the only NBA team to win their first seven home games this season. No. 7 was not as easy as it should have been.
After squandering a 21-point third-quarter lead on Friday night, the Sixers clawed out a 133-132 win overtime over the Hornets to move to 8-5. Saturday night, the Sixers are in Memphis to take on the Grizzlies in the first of three straight road games. The Grizzlies are also unbeaten at home (4-0), the only team with that distinction in the Western Conference.
• Tony Allen and Zach Randolph are no longer around, but Memphis is still playing a “grit and grind” style of basketball. It's allowing 100.6 points per game, the fewest in the NBA, and scoring 102.2, second lowest. The Grizzlies play at a 96.0 pace, the slowest in a league that is constantly speeding up and scoring more.
It’s worked well for them so far. After a 22-60 campaign last season, Memphis has started 6-4, led by veterans Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. Jaren Jackson Jr., the No. 4 pick in this year’s draft, looks like he has a bright future. The 19-year-old big man is averaging 12.1 points and 4.8 rebounds, and is coming off a 20-point, seven-rebound performance in the Grizzlies’ 89-97 win over the Nuggets on Wednesday. Expect Joel Embiid to test Jackson’s physicality and ability to defend without fouling — something many opponents have failed at this season.
• Embiid has attempted 137 free throws, 44 more than any other player this season. His ability to get to the line has been especially important in clutch situations, and is a big reason why the Sixers escaped with a win on Friday (see story).
• The Sixers lost in Memphis last season, 105-101, on an ugly night in which they turned the ball over 24 times, despite a season-high 20 points from the now-departed Timothe Luwawu-Cabarot. In March, the Sixers handled the Grizzlies at home, 119-105, snapping a 10-game losing streak against Memphis.
Below are the essentials for Saturday night’s game. The Sixers are going for their first three-game winning streak of the season.
Jonah Bolden, F, 6-10, 220, No. 43
Wilson Chandler, F, 6-9/225, No. 22
Joel Embiid, C, 7-0/260, No. 21
Markelle Fultz, G, 6-4/200, No. 20
* Demetrius Jackson, G, 6-1/200, No. 11
Amir Johnson, F/C, 6-9/240, No. 5
Furkan Korkmaz, G/F, 6-7/185, No. 30
T.J. McConnell, G, 6-2/190, No. 12
* Shake Milton, G, 6-6/205, No. 18
Mike Muscala, F/C, 6-11/240, No. 31
JJ Redick, G 6-4/195, No. 17 13
Landry Shamet, G, 6-5/190, No. 23
Ben Simmons, G/F, 6-10/230, No. 25
Zhaire Smith, G, 6-4/200, No. 8
* Two-way player
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