KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Happy hump day, folks.
We’ll see today if the 76ers have improved their fourth-quarter defense. They have given up 46 and 43 points in the fourth periods of their first two seeding games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Today, they’ll face the undermanned and struggling Washington Wizards. Like the Sixers’ first two opponents, the Wizards are missing major contributors. All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal is out with a minor rotator cuff injury, while standout reserve forward Davis Bertans opted to sit out the NBA restart.
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There’s an obvious difference in the way Tobias Harris goes about things on the court.
“I just have a brand-new confidence in myself in my game and knowing what I’m capable of,” the Sixers forward said. “I’m just going to continue to reach different levels.
“For me, it’s going out there and establishing that each and every day.”
The ninth-year veteran has been one of the team’s leaders since being acquired in February 2019 in a multi-player trade with the Los Angeles Clippers. He also had a knack for being a go-to guy in games Joel Embiid missed.
But in the past, his role was more to stand in the corner and space the floor while playing with the second-team All-NBA center.
Not anymore. The two have been a solid one-two scoring tandem during the restart.
Embiid had 41 points and 21 rebounds and Harris scored 30 points in Saturday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers. Then Embiid had 27 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists compared to Harris’ 25 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists in Monday’s victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
One can argue that Harris has benefited the most from the Sixers’ changes to the starting lineup. Ben Simmons, a two-time All-Star point guard, was moved to power forward during the restart. Shake Milton is the starting point guard.
Harris attributes his success to working on his mental game while the NBA shut down for four months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m fueling off that confidence every day,” he said. “I’m continuing to tell myself who I want to be, what I want to be, and how I want our team to go.
“So it’s just a confidence thing, and I’m having fun playing this game that I love.”
Y’all remember Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot? He was the Sixers’ 24th overall draft pick in 2016. Well, the 6-foot-7 swingman is now on his fourth team, the Brooklyn Nets.
The once-counted-out player sure put on a show Tuesday in the Nets’ 119-116 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. His back-to-back three-pointers put the Nets ahead to stay late in the game. The 25-year-old scored a career-high 26 points, making 5 of 7 three-pointers in 31 minutes.
“Hopefully, we found a sweet spot for him,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “Seems like he’s in a good rhythm. We’ll continue to put him in positions where he can take advantage of his speed and shooting ability.”
Today: Sixers vs. Washington Wizards at The Arena, 4 p.m., NBA TV, NBC Sports Philadelphia
Friday: Orlando Magic vs. Sixers at HP Fieldhouse, 6:30 p.m., TNT, NBC Sports Philadelphia
Sunday: Sixers vs. Portland Trail Blazers at VISA Athletic Center, 6:30 p.m., NBA TV, NBC Sports Philadelphia
Tuesday: Phoenix Suns vs. Sixers at VISA Athletic Center, 4:30 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Aug. 12: Toronto Raptors vs. Sixers at HP Field House 6:30 p.m., ESPN, NBC Sports Philadelphia
All events at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Send questions by email or on Twitter (@PompeyOnSixers)
Question: How deep will the Sixers rotation be in the playoffs? — @ghorsey424 on Twitter
Answer: What’s up, Mike? Thanks for asking this question. I also want to thank you for making a difference in the community. I’ve had the utmost respect for you since my days of covering preps in the early-, mid-2000s.