Good morning, Sixers fans. Many of you woke up to the news that Seth Curry has tested positive for COVID-19. The Sixers had declared Curry out of Thursday night’s 122-109 loss to the host Brooklyn Nets because of soreness in his left ankle.
Curry spent the first quarter on the Sixers bench and, once alerted of the result, went to an isolation room at the Barclays Center. The Sixers had to quarantine and contact-trace in a New York hotel late Thursday and early Friday. Sources told Inquirer colleague Keith Pompey that the Sixers would be tested Friday morning.
So many questions at this point.
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 @SJnard. Thank you for reading.
— Marc Narducci (email@example.com)
The Sixers showed Thursday in Brooklyn how much they missed Curry. He had been off to a blazing start. In eight games, he was shooting 59.5% from three-point range.
Even for Curry, that might not be sustainable. According to Basketball-reference.com, Curry is the second-highest three-point percentage shooter in NBA history (44.9%). The leader is Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr (45.4%).
In Doc Rivers’ offense, which has provided spacing for shooters, Curry has thrived.
Against Brooklyn, the Sixers shot 9-for-26 (34.6%) from three-point range, but were 6-for-20 (30%) in the first three quarters, after which they trailed, 94-84.
It remains to be seen how long Curry is out. The other question concerns whether Shake Milton will remain in the starting lineup during Curry’s absence. While Milton did score a team-high 24 points, it left the bench woefully short of a scorer.
The Sixers bench was outscored by 53-28, and that was a Nets team playing without its superstar duo of Kevin Durant (COVID-19 protocol) and Kyrie Irving (personal reasons).
Whether he starts or not, Milton will have to improve on his three-point shooting. On Thursday, he was just 1-for-4 from beyond the arc, and this season, he is shooting just 27.5%. Last season, he shot 43%.
If there was an encouraging development in the loss, it was the play of rookie Tyrese Maxey off the bench. Maxey had a season-high 16 points, shooting 7-for-12 from the field, including 2-for-4 from three-point range.
“I thought he played great,” Rivers said. “I thought he was the one guy that came in the game with great energy and tried to run stuff for us.”
In his last five games, Maxey is averaging 9.6 points in 18.4 minutes, and his role should continue to expand even upon Curry’s return.
Keith Pompey has the story of Curry’s testing positive for COVID-19.
Pompey offers his best/worst awards from the Sixers’ loss to Brooklyn.
David Murphy writes that nothing went right for the Sixers against Brooklyn.
Pompey writes that Rivers thinks the tradition of NBA champions visiting the White House will return.
Tough break for Markelle Fultz
Former 76ers guard Markelle Fultz has suffered another setback after having the most success of his young career. During the Orlando Magic’s 105-94 win Wednesday over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers, Fultz suffered a season-ending torn left anterior cruciate ligament.
Before the season, Fultz signed a $50 million extension. In eight games, Fultz averaged 12.9 points, 5.4 assists, and 2.3 turnovers, but those stats are a bit misleading because he played only 4 minutes and 25 seconds Wednesday before suffering his injury. In his seven full games for the Magic, he averaged 14.3 points and 6.1 assists compared to 2.6 turnovers, and shot 25% from three-point range but 88.9% from the foul line.
Fultz’s struggles with the Sixers after being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft are well documented. He played only 33 games in a season and a half before being traded Feb. 7, 2019 to Orlando. One of the assets the Sixers received in the trade was this past year’s first-round pick, which they used to select Maxey.
In a less pressurized environment, Fultz has fared well in Orlando. At 22, he now will have to come back from more adversity.
Saturday: Denver Nuggets at Sixers, 3 p.m., Wells Fargo Center, NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBA TV
Monday: Sixers at Atlanta Hawks, 7:30 p.m., State Farm Arena, NBC Sports Philadelphia
Tuesday: Miami Heat at Sixers, 7 p.m., Wells Fargo Center, NBC Sports Philadelphia
Thursday: Miami Heat at Sixers, 7:30 p.m. Wells Fargo Center, NBC Sports Philadelphia/TNT
Jan. 16: Sixers at Memphis Grizzlies, 8 p.m. FedEx Forum, NBC Sports Philadelphia
Passing the rock
Question: Can we trade for [Zach] LaVine without giving up Maxey, Shake and Furk [Furkan Korkmaz]? — Samuel Svensson from Facebook
Answer: Thanks for the question, Samuel. To answer your question succinctly, I would say no. In any trade involving LaVine, the Chicago Bulls would definitely ask for Maxey and probably Shake, too.
The bigger question is whether the Sixers would even be interested. LaVine, according to Hoopshype.com, is earning $19.5 million this year and next, so the Sixers would have to add salary. (We did a Danny Green-and-Maxey trade for LaVine in the ESPN trade machine, and it did work.) LaVine is a talented player and a high-volume scorer, but I don’t think he would improve the Sixers, especially if they would have to give up Maxey.