Nikola Jokic

NBA All-Stars rave about new-look Sixers

NBA All-Stars rave about new-look Sixers

It’s All-Star Weekend, so we thought we would find out about what fellow All-Stars and other players think about your new-look Sixers.

And let’s just say, this should make Sixers fans feel pretty good ...

“They’re different. Obviously, they’ve been good, but they added more depth, more athleticism, more scoring, more star power, and you look at that starting lineup and it’s really good, and you’ve got TJ (McConnell) coming off the bench with James Ennis and Jonathon Simmons, so it gives you some athleticism coming off the bench. They are up there.” — James Harden

“Big. Long. Athletic. It will be interesting to see how much better they can get, adding Tobias Harris and those guys, because they have already shown they can be one of the top teams in the East, so with those new additions, I think the sky is the limit for them. It’s going to be fun to watch.” — Mike Conley

 “When you have four guys that are really All-Stars on a team, and then a bunch of other guys around them that can play really well, it makes it interesting to see how it’s going to work out. It makes them tough.” — Danny Green, who also said Tobias Harris should’ve been an All-Star

“Right now they are extremely dangerous, need a little bit more time to play together, but they can match (anybody in the) world.” — Nikola Jokic

“Tough ... they are probably in the talks to win the championships, for sure.” — Luka Doncic

“They’re a super, super talented team … We’ve got a good rivalry going, they are super competitive, we are very familiar with them, and they are very familiar with us. Lot of trash talking out there, that’s what makes basketball super fun, when you’re super competitive like that and everyone is watching.” — Jayson Tatum

 “All the players they have, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler now, and also got JJ Redick as a shooter and now they just incorporated Tobias. They’re going to have to get their chemistry together with him. They are just going to be a totally different team.” — Kawhi Leonard

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Sixers 117, Nuggets 110: Sixers' new starting five shows off its firepower vs. Nuggets

Sixers 117, Nuggets 110: Sixers' new starting five shows off its firepower vs. Nuggets

BOX SCORE

There was a basketball game played at the Wells Fargo Center Friday night, but at times, it felt more like a party.

The Sixers' new juggernaut starting five got off to a strong start but had to hang on to beat the Nuggets, 117-110.

After leading by as many 16 in the first half, leaky defense allowed Denver to come back and make it a tight contest.

The win improves the Sixers to 22-6 at home and 35-20 overall.

Here are observations from the win.

• Well, Tobias Harris couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start.

He missed his first look, a bunny on a great look from Ben Simmons. But he buried his next chance, knocking down a transition three from the wing on a rope from Simmons. This is something we could be seeing a lot more of. 

He nailed a huge fourth-quarter three on a similar play.

The common theory has been that Harris will fit in nicely because of his ability to shoot, but what stood out in his debut is that he’s just a damn good basketball player. He recorded 14 points in his Sixers debut.

• The biggest beneficiary of all the added star power might just be JJ Redick. Redick likely had the cleanest looks he’s had all season. His movement away from the ball is so good and he continued to just find the open spots all night.

With Redick scorching the nets all night, it helped loosen things up around the basket for everyone else.

This Ben Simmons dunk is a prime example, as he fakes the hand off to Redick and drives to the basket instead.

He finished with a season-high 34 points and hit 6 of 7 from three. It’s nice to have four star-caliber players, but it’s even better to have a guy like Redick to open things up.

• Joel Embiid, who was questionable with a stomach bug, gutted this one out, but struggled offensively. He didn't look like himself all night, but you have to give him credit, he played hard all night. 

This block to end the third quarter was just pure hustle and effort.

The shooting numbers look ugly (4 of 17 from the field), but he still managed to record his league-leading 45th double-double with 15 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.

• Nikola Jokic was a problem yet again for the Sixers. The All-Star center and guard Jamal Murray gave the Sixers' fits in running the pick-and-roll together. The pair finished with a combined 50 points.

• The Sixers’ defense is still very clearly a work in progress. They continue to struggle against the pick-and-roll and, with a bunch of new pieces, had a miscommunications that led to a few open looks.

With that said, you have to give Brand credit for the role players he picked up. A guy like James Ennis is a perfect example of the kind of guy this team needs. He defended a pick-and-roll better than I’ve seen any Sixers’ defender do it all season. If he can hit an open three every now and then — he hit two Friday — he could be a huge pickup.

• Speaking of the bench, it’s going to be interesting to see Brett Brown’s rotations going forward. He didn’t have his full complement of players with Jonathon Simmons, acquired from Orlando in the Markelle Fultz trade, not in uniform.

One intriguing thing was how Jimmy Butler worked in the pick-and-roll with Boban Marjanovic — who got a rousing ovation from the crowd. Their first play running it led to Marjanovic’s first basket as a Sixer.

Another rotational change that’ll probably benefit the Sixers going forward is the separation of Ben Simmons and T.J. McConnell. With both players unwilling to shoot from the outside, it just leads to poor offense.

It was nice to see Butler and Simmons get some run together again. They’ve had a connection pretty much since Butler arrived. Brown wanted to get Butler playing more with Embiid — for obvious reasons — but the chemistry between Butler and Simmons is undeniable.

Butler had an excellent all-around game, recording 22 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. He did serious damage from the line, making 14 of 14.

• Simmons has to cut down on his turnovers. He had nine Friday night. When you're surrounded by so much offensive talent there's no excuse for it. 

• Needless to say, Sixers fans are pretty delighted with the moves the team made. GM Elton Brand got the rockstar treatment, at one point getting a, “Thank you, Elton,” chant by a section of fans.

• The Sixers finally retired the late great Moses Malone's No. 2.

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

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

After an exciting NBA trade deadline (in which the Sixers acquired five new players!) an Elton Brand press conference, and a Moses Malone statue unveiling at Legends Walk (and a jersey retiring to happen this evening), can you believe there is still a game to play?

And it is a big one. The Sixers (34-20) are taking on a team that currently stands at second place in the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets (37-17), at Wells Fargo Center. There are so many storylines to follow, it’s hard to keep it to just three. First, here are the essentials:

• When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30 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:

New core

It’ll be the first glimpse of Tobias Harris in the Sixers' starting lineup, alongside Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick. Keep in mind that this group will have had zero practice time together, but getting to see the future of the new core, and how these guys feed off each other is definitely going to be the highlight of this one.

New bench

The Sixers added Mike Scott, James Ennis, Jonathon Simmons and Boban Marjanović to their bench. One of the biggest criticisms of this team had been their lack of bench depth, especially at the wing. With the new construction of this roster, we’ll get our first look into whether this bench is better equipped come playoff time. (Ennis is still in the process of being cleared for tonight’s game, while Simmons will not play, according to a team source).

And then there’s Denver … and Nikola Jokic!

The fans are still starved for that Jokic vs. Joel Embiid matchup! The last time these two teams played, the Sixers rested Embiid, and fell 126-110 in Denver. Jokic came out aggressive, posting 17 points and seven rebounds in the first. You better believe Embiid has this one circled. Prior to resting against Denver a few weeks ago, Embiid said, “You best believe that if I play, I'm going to go crazy."

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