KISSIMMEE, Fla. – What’s up, people?

Happy Monday to you all. Let’s make this the start of a productive week, which for the 76ers would involve keeping players healthy, especially after this weekend.

Joel Embiid exited in the first quarter on Sunday night’s 124-121 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers with a twisted left ankle, one day after the team announced Ben Simmons needs surgery on his left knee.

Now, the Sixers must weigh building cohesion versus avoiding injuries in the final seeding games against the Phoenix Suns (Tuesday), Toronto Raptors (Wednesday), and Houston Rockets (Friday).

You’re signed up to get this newsletter in your inbox every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up here. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @PompeyOnSixers. Thank you for reading.

— Keith Pompey (offthedribble@inquirer.com)

Josh Richardson channels back to last season with Heat

Josh Richardson will tell you he took the shots he normally would while being aggressive.

“It wasn’t anything super crazy or out of character for me,” the Sixers shooting guard said of his offensive mentality in Sunday’s loss to the Blazers.

Richardson showed glimpses of last season with the Miami Heat. Back then, coach Erik Spoelstra put the ball in his hands and told him to go work. Richardson assumed that role after Embiid left the game Sunday. Richardson finished with a season-high 34 points on 13-for-20 shooting, including 6 of 10 on three-pointers. The shooting guard also had a team-high 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals in 38 minutes, 3 seconds.

The Sixers acquired Richardson last summer in the four-team trade that sent Jimmy Butler to the Heat. He was one of Miami’s go-to guys, averaging a career-best 16.6 games last season.

But his role with the Sixers wasn’t defined until recently. And it was far from a glamorous one. He took a back seat to NBA All-Stars Embiid and Simmon,s and Tobias Harris, for whom most of the offensive plays are called.

“You know we have great players,” Richardson said. “So sometimes you are not going to get as many touches as you want or it’s not going to go your way.

“But sometimes it does. Sometimes it feels like I’m getting the rock a lot, and I do what I do with it.”

His getting the “rock” in those occasions was more like aggressively creating his own offense, which has enabled Richardson to have several solid scoring games.

“But it’s just personnel,” Richardson said, “and that’s how it goes sometimes. So you just try to stay in good spirits, stay positive and try to keep pushing forward.”

 Josh Richardson (0) was one the Miami Heat go-to guys last season. Here he's dishing a pass under the basket against the Atlanta Hawks' Vince Carter (15) at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on March 4, 2019.
MATIAS J. OCNER / MCT
Josh Richardson (0) was one the Miami Heat go-to guys last season. Here he's dishing a pass under the basket against the Atlanta Hawks' Vince Carter (15) at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on March 4, 2019.

Starting five

Melo 15th on NBA scoring list

Carmelo Anthony spoke of being honored and blessed.

The Blazers forward had just scored 20 points against the Sixers to climb to 15th on the NBA all-time scoring list with 26,411 career points. He surpassed Hall of Famer John Havlicek (26,395) and Paul Pierce (26,397).

“I don’t want to take that for granted,” said Anthony. “There’s some greats on there. But it’s kind of hard to celebrate that at this moment.”

Right now, Anthony’s focus is on leading the Blazers into the postseason. Portland (33-39) is a half-game behind the Memphis Grizzlies for eighth in the Western Conference standings with two seeding games remaining.

The San Antonio Spurs (half-game behind Portland) and Phoenix Suns (one game back) are still in the mix.

If the ninth-place team finishes within four games of the eighth-place team, it will force a play-in tournament with the eighth seed. The tournament would be single-elimination for the ninth seed and double-elimination for the eighth seed.

So the Blazers are on pace to force a play-in tournament.

The Trail Blazers' Carmelo Anthony, right, has pulled into 15th on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
Kevin C. Cox / AP
The Trail Blazers' Carmelo Anthony, right, has pulled into 15th on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

Important Dates:

Tuesday: Phoenix Suns vs. Sixers at VISA Athletic Center, 4:30 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia

Wednesday: Toronto Raptors vs. Sixers at HP Field House 6:30 p.m., ESPN, NBC Sports Philadelphia

Friday: Sixers vs. Houston Rockets at TBD, Time TBD, NBC Sports Philadelphia

All events at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Passing the Rock

Send questions by email or on Twitter (@PompeyOnSixers)

Question: Why is Brown so married to Furkan [Korkmaz] when there are obviously better than him on the bench? — @FreeWill302 on Twitter

Answer: What’s up, man? I hope you are doing well, and thanks for the question. A lot of that has to do with Korkmaz being the Sixers’ best three-point shooter. I know that he struggles on defense, when teams routinely attack him. However, he gets minutes because he creates space and gives the Sixers a lift when making three-pointers. Korkmaz is shooting a career-best 39.7% on three-pointers this season and had consecutive games with 34 and 31 points this season. However, he failed to score in the following game. So I can see why some are critical, but when he’s hot, he’s hot.

I think the Sixers will have a short leash in the playoffs. His minutes will be limited if he’s not making shots.

Sixers guard Furkan Korkmaz had 34 and 31 points in back-to-back games this season.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Sixers guard Furkan Korkmaz had 34 and 31 points in back-to-back games this season.