What’s up, people? Happy Hump Day to y’all.
It’s still early in the season, but the 76ers are about to partake in another intriguing game tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Wells Fargo Center. Just don’t tell that to coach Brett Brown, All-Star center Joel Embiid or any other Sixer. They’ll probably give you the “This is Game 4 of 82.”
True, but this matchup against the Timberwolves (3-0) is another early-season barometer for the Sixers (3-0). Plus, a victory would improve the Sixers to 4-0, marking their best start since opening the 2000-01 season with 10 straight victories. The Sixers concluded that campaign as NBA Finals runners-up to the Los Angeles Lakers.
We’ll keep you posted in The Inquirer and on Inquirer.com.
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— Keith Pompey (email@example.com)
The Sixers were more talented than each of their three opponents: the Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks. Yet they trailed after one quarter in all three of those victories. The Sixers didn’t just trail. For the most part, they were unorganized and looked lost in the early going.
The worst performance came Monday night when they surrendered 40 first-quarter points to the Hawks. Atlanta shot 57.7% and made 6 of 10 three-pointers against what is expected to be one of the league’s top defenses.
As in their previous games, the Sixers developed a defensive presence as the game progressed in their 105-103 victory.
“Just be physical,” Embiid said of the defense after the first quarter. “We were soft in the first quarter. You know, we just had to turn it on a little bit.”
The Sixers held the Hawks (2-2) to a combined 63 points in the second, third and fourth quarters.
“So that’s great defense,” Embiid said. “We need to go back and see what we did different on the film.”
Coming out more organized and locked in would help.
· The Sixers’ Shake Milton is sidelined with a bone bruise and mild sprain to his left knee. The second-year player will miss tonight’s game against the Timberwolves and the four-game western road trip that follows. Milton will be reevaluated after the road trip.
· Sixers forward Mike Scott’s foul against the Hawks was downgraded to Flagrant 1. Scott was ejected for driving a shoulder into Damian Jones on a Jones breakaway late in the first half Monday night in Atlanta.
· The Sixers have been overcoming a lack of rhythm in their 3-0 start, I write. They ranked 27th out of 30 NBA teams in three-point shooting percentage and averaged the second-most turnovers entering Tuesday’s league games.
· Sixers-Hawks best and worst awards: Embiid’s dominance, Scott’s ejection. I write that Embiid was in straight beast mode against Atlanta, finishing with game highs of 36 points, 13 rebounds and three steals.
· Sixers podcast: Unanswered questions and concerns, Karl-Anthony Towns’ elevated play, Shake Milton’s availability. Karl-Anthony Towns is playing at an MVP level through three games this season.
The Sixers are lucky. I mean LUCKY!
Think about it. Embiid wasn’t the player they coveted in the 2014 NBA draft. The team wanted to select his Kansas teammate Andrew Wiggins.
But they drafted the then-injured Embiid with the third pick only after Wiggins (first overall to Cleveland Cavaliers) and Jabari Parker (second to Milwaukee Bucks) had been selected. The Sixers and the fans were so in love with Wiggins that there was even a “Winless for Wiggins” slogan going around.
The Sixers, however, had to settle on Embiid, the best available player at No. 3.
He rewarded them by becoming the best player of the draft class. Meanwhile, Wiggins is on his second team and hasn’t quite lived up to the lofty expectations.
Tonight: Minnesota Timberwolves at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Saturday: Sixers at Portland Trail Blazers, 10 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia and NBA TV
Monday: Sixers at Phoenix Suns, 9 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Nov. 6: Sixers at Utah Jazz, 9 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Nov. 8: Sixers at Denver Nuggets, 9 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Question: Who’s going to be the energy guy off the bench like T.J. [McConnell] has been? — @TexCamden on Twitter
Answer: What’s up, @TexCamden? Thanks for the question. As for finding an energy guy off the bench like T.J. McConnell, that person has been and will continue to be Matisse Thybulle.
Don’t get it twisted, though. McConnell, who signed with the Indiana Pacers in July, will be hard to replace. The former Arizona standout wasn’t opposed to diving on the court or in the stands for loose balls. I haven’t seen Thybulle do that, But there’s no one on the team who gets after it on the defensive end quite like him.
Send questions by email or on Twitter @PompeyOnSixers