CLEVELAND — Oh, brother.
What is it with my flights from the ‘The 216’ getting canceled? I got a text message from American Airlines last night, stating that my scheduled flight for 5:51 a.m. today to Philadelphia was terminated. So I had to scramble just to get on a flight for later this morning. This is the third time in six years that yours truly had a flight canceled here. But at least this time, I won’t have to stay an extra day.
Meanwhile, the 76ers probably slept like babies last night in the Philadelphia area after getting a much-needed victory. For the first time in a while, the Sixers (8-5) looked like a squad capable of reaching the NBA Finals in Sunday’s 114-95 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
That win snapped a five-game road skid and two-game overall losing streak. We’ll find out if the Sixers can build on this victory when they face the struggling New York Knicks on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
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After Sunday’s victory, a reporter mentioned to Sixers center Joel Embiid that he doesn’t have to score as many points as in seasons past. The reporter noted the squad has a balanced attack with new additions Al Horford and Josh Richardson joining Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris in the starting lineup.
He asked Embiid how that balance has been for him and Simmons this season.
“I need to do more,” Embiid responded. “I felt like I haven’t done enough. So that’s what I think I need to do.”
Embiid knows that on most nights he’ll have a major say in the outcome of games.
Right now, he’s leading the team in points (22.9 per game), rebounds (11.4) and blocks (1.4). Those numbers are down from the 27.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks the two-time All-Star averaged last season.
Embiid also has missed four games: one because of a sprained ankle, two for a suspension for fighting Minnesota center Karl-Anthony Towns, and one last week as part of the overall plan to keep him healthy for the entire season and the postseason.
The 25-year-old was hampered by tendinitis in his left knee late last season. He missed 14 of the final 24 regular-season games, plus Game 3 of the opening-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets.
- Sixers podcast: This squad will continue to frustrate, then excite you. I also talk about Harris’ getting out of his shooting slump and Trey Burke’s quality minutes at backup point guard.
- Road-weary Sixers welcome stretch of 13 of next 18 games at home. The Sixers have played nine of their 13 games thus far on the road. Unbeaten at home, they’re 4-5 on the road, I write.
- Sixers impressive in much-needed 114-95 win over Cleveland Cavaliers. The Sixers got back to their winning ways, and looked like a contender in doing so, I write.
- What’s going on with the 76ers? Turnovers, foul trouble and shaky three-point shooting are the Sixers’ biggest shortcomings, I write.
- Zhaire Smith still in Sixers’ plans, but the G League’s Delaware Blue Coats will have to do for now. Smith is reluctant to get aggressive on offense; that’s his nature. But he’ll have to improve that part of his game to get back to the Sixers, Marc Narducci writes.
I wonder what the Atlanta Hawks’ flight back to Georgia was like in the wee hours of this morning. One has to believe Evan Turner was bragging at least slightly about making LeBron James take a seat in last night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center.
Late in the second quarter, Turner turned the corner with a behind-the-back dribble while guarded by James. Unable to keep up, the future Hall of Famer slipped to the court and Turner scored on a layup. The play drew a loud reaction from the Lakers crowd.
His play takes me back to the time Turner scored 34 points as a Sixer in a 110-106 road victory over the New York Knicks on Jan. 22, 2014.
Michael Carter-Williams' three-pointer with 5 minutes, 41 seconds remaining gave the Sixers a 93-92 advantage. Then Turner added a three-pointer on the Sixers' next possession to give his team a four-point cushion. That was a huge basket.
“Mike rebounded, pushed the pace, made the guy — I think it was [Iman] Shumpert — try to play him,” Turner said at the time of his corner three-pointer. “He kicked it to me, got me the rock. Drawers! That’s it.”
So I kept picturing Turner saying “Ankles” on the flight back to Atlanta.
Wednesday: New York Knicks at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Friday: San Antonio Spurs at Sixers, 8 p.m. NBC Sports Philadelphia and ESPN
Saturday: Miami Heat at Sixers, 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Nov. 25: Sixers at Toronto Raptors, 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Nov. 27: Sacramento Kings at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Question: Why isn’t [two-way player Marial] Shayok giving us some bench minutes? Seems like he could easily contribute. And at age 24 he doesn’t really need seasoning like Zhaire [Smith] & Shake [Milton] did. Why not bring him up or convert him w/ a legit roster spot? — @hugh_arkinson
Answer: What’s up,@hugh_arkinson? I appreciate your asking this question.
I must say that Shayok has been impressive with the Delaware Blue Coats in the G League. However, I don’t know whom the Sixers would waive to create a full-time roster spot for him.
Right now, Furkan Korkmaz is developing into their most consistent go-to perimeter reserve. The Sixers like what James Ennis III is doing as a two-way player. Matisse Thybulle isn’t going anywhere. Nor is Milton. And Trey Burke and Raul Neto are valuable pieces.
So as good as Shayok has been in the G League, there’s no spot for him on the regular 15-man roster. I expect the Sixers to bring him up at some point. Not sure how much action he will receive because of the players ahead of him.