Kevin Love

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

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

Before they have a chance to get one back on the defending champion Raptors Sunday night, the Sixers have a game to play Saturday at Wells Fargo Center.

Here are the essentials for the matchup between the 15-7 Sixers and 5-16 Cavs.

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

And here are three storylines to watch:

It’s not rest this time

Joel Embiid has yet to have a “rest” game since saying load management is “BS.”

He’s out Saturday with a left hip contusion. A team source told NBC Sports Philadelphia that Embiid reported discomfort after the Sixers’ 119-113 loss Thursday to the Wizards and is being treated for the injury.

Embiid had played in 11 straight games since sitting the last game of a back-to-back on Nov. 13 in Orlando. 

After tonight, he’ll have played in 18 of the Sixers’ first 23 games, and 30.4 minutes per night. He played every one of the team’s first 23 games last year, averaging 34.6 minutes. 

Missing the ‘dot connector’ 

Before the season, Brett Brown called Josh Richardson the “mortar” for the Sixers. On Nov. 20, he labeled him a “dot connector.” 

The Sixers have managed a 5-1 mark in games Richardson has missed — he’s out again Saturday with right hamstring tightness — but they’ve been much worse with him off the floor. The team has a plus-10.6 net rating with Richardson on the court, minus-0.6 with him off it.

Much of that can be attributed to him being paired with Embiid, who has similar on-off numbers and tends to boost the net ratings of whoever he’s playing with, but that disparity does suggest Richardson’s value. 

At a minimum, splitting up the Richardson-Embiid pairing has hurt the Sixers. 

Drama with the Cavs 

Three anonymous players were quoted in a story in The Athletic by Shams Charania and Joe Vardon about new Cavs head coach John Beilein. The players voiced their frustration with, among other things, the former Michigan coach’s emphasis on fundamentals and extended film sessions. And, according to the report, “all the team’s screens, cuts, and pivots are named after wild animals. A curl is a 'polar bear' in John Beilein's system.” That reportedly hasn’t resonated with a few of the Cavs’ veteran players.

Several players then responded to the report and spoke out in support of Beilein, including Tristan Thompson. 

“Y’all better find them names ‘cause I’ll pull up on ‘em right now,” Thompson told reporters. “You can’t do that s---. At the end of the day if you’re going to build a culture and a family, you can’t have that Chatty Patty s--- going on. That s--- is whack to me.”

That wasn’t the only notable news involving the Cavs on Friday. The team is prepared to listen to offers for Kevin Love, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported. The five-time All-Star missed Cleveland's 93-87 loss Friday to the Magic because of an illness. 

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Will Kevin Love's injury open All-Star spot for Ben Simmons?

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Will Kevin Love's injury open All-Star spot for Ben Simmons?

With Kevin Love expected to miss six to eight weeks after breaking his hand Tuesday, another All-Star roster spot is open.

Could it go to Ben Simmons? We'll likely find out from commissioner Adam Silver later today.

Simmons is one of a handful of worthy candidates to replace Love. Andre Drummond is no longer on that list after replacing the injured John Wall.

Simmons' main competition for that final All-Star roster spot appears to be Heat point guard Goran Dragic and Hornets PG Kemba Walker.

Lou Williams is another consideration, but it's more likely that Love's roster spot is filled by someone from the Eastern Conference.

So let's compare the numbers of Simmons, Dragic and Walker.

Simmons: 16.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.9 blocks, 52% FG, 56% FT, zero made threes

Dragic: 17.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 44% FG, 76% FT, 1.5 made threes per game

Walker: 22.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.2 steals, 42% FG, 84% FT, 2.6 made threes per game

Simmons has the edge in rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and field goal percentage.

Another advantage he may have over the other two is that, positionally, he'd make more sense as a replacement for Love. (In that regard, Kristaps Porzingis is also a consideration, averaging 23.3 points and 6.7 rebounds for the 23-28 Knicks.)

Of course, stats aren't the only consideration. Team records also matter.

Miami is 29-21, fourth in the East and without an All-Star representative. That plays into Dragic's favor. 

The Sixers are 24-23, eighth in the East and with an All-Star starter in Joel Embiid.

The Hornets are 20-29, 11th in the East and five games out of the playoffs.

Another name we saw surface Tuesday when Wall's injury came out was Jaylen Brown. Though it's confusing why Brown would even be considered. He's averaging 14.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals, shooting 46 percent from the field, 38 percent from three and 59 percent from the line.

Solid numbers, but not All-Star worthy, even when you account for his defense and his team's record.

Drummond himself threw some shade at Brown on Instagram while simultaneously praising Simmons.

Finally, Eagles have the right kind of drama

Finally, Eagles have the right kind of drama

The 2017 Eagles' script is one final scene shy of a perfect Hollywood ending. Avenging a previous Super Bowl loss to the villainous Patriots would be a fitting conclusion to a season filled with its share of drama. The good kind.

Sports these days are filled with drama. Take the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are in the midst of one of their annual sky-falling, finger-pointing, he-said, he-said, let’s-all-blame-Kevin-Love, cover-your-ass production.

How about our in-state neighbors, the Steelers. They just fired their offensive coordinator, who prior to the playoffs got into a bar fight in Pittsburgh. Their star running back is threatening to sit out next season because of his contract status. Their quarterback, who questioned the team’s discipline, is now defending his embattled coach.

Despite the success both of those organizations have had in the past, this is not the kind of drama you want. 

We’ve seen plenty of the bad kind of drama up-close and personal. Chip Kelly, “the dream team,” T.O. circa 2005, Eric Lindros and his parents vs. Bob Clarke, A.I. poom-poom pants, Andrew Bynum bowling for dollars.   

This year’s version of the Eagles have had their fair share of drama. The good kind. Like a quarterback in his second season lighting the league on fire? Or a coach who few truly believed in leading his team to within one game of the biggest win in franchise history? How about a group of players undaunted all season by massive injuries? Or a team that totally encompasses that word that, despite having tied for the best record in football and owning home-field advantage, will be an underdog in every postseason game they play? Two down, one to go.

There have been singular moments. Carson Wentz inexplicably escaping a pile of massive human beings and scampering for a big gain. Chris Long’s strip sack in L.A. which led to backup Nick Foles driving his team down the field for a game-winning field goal in a game that more than likely got them that home-field advantage. Or rookie Jake Elliott nailing a 61-yard game-winning field goal. Doug Pederson defiantly telling the assembled media that despite losing his star quarterback, that his team will be fine. Foles pulling a “Wentz” and staying alive in the pocket long enough to connect with Alshon Jeffery on a 53-yard touchdown strike in an NFC Championship Game. 

There were many detours and potholes that could have flattened the Eagles' tires along the way but they never let it happen. The head coach and the character players in this locker room did not allow it. Instead, it’s been a joyride filled with memorable moments.   

You couldn’t write, produce, or act out this kind of quality drama. Or maybe you can.