We hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving.

The 76ers got to spend a little bit longer with family during the holiday. Normally, the team will depart for a road game around 3:30 p.m. the previous day.

The Sixers got a little extra time and left at 6 p.m. for their game Friday at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks.

They didn’t practice on Thanksgiving but will have a morning shootaround in New York.

The Sixers are coming off a 97-91 win over a resilient Sacramento Kings team. It was yet another success story this season at the Wells Fargo Center.

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— Marc Narducci (offthedribble@inquirer.com)

Saluting the crowd

The Sixers have now had 101 consecutive sellouts at the Wells Fargo Center. On Wednesday, the crowd was its usual boisterous self, especially as the Kings cut a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to five with 2 minutes, 41 seconds left.

The Kings would get no closer and the Sixers (12-6) prevailed. That left the Sixers 8-0 this season at the Wells Fargo Center.

Only four NBA teams are still unbeaten at home and all are from the Eastern Conference. The other three are Boston (7-0), Toronto (8-0), and Miami (7-0).

After scoring 15 points and hitting all five shots, including three three-pointers in his best game as a pro, rookie Matisse Thybulle was asked about the unbeaten home mark. He immediately saluted the Sixers fans.

“Every time I get out there, it is another experience to get in front of these fans,” he said. “Each game I am blown away with how much energy they bring, with how much [Joel Embiid] interacts with them.”

Thybulle was sitting next to Embiid at the postgame news conference after the Sixers center had provided 33 points and 16 rebounds after going scoreless Monday in a 101-96 loss at Toronto.

Back to the fans: Thybulle gave them the highest compliment.

“They help us win these games,” he said. “And is has been really cool to see us take care of business at home.”

Coach Brett Brown was just as effusive in his praise of the fans.

“When we travel I purposely go to the bench and point to the crowd and I remind our team how lucky we are to play in the city where there are no pockets of empty seats,” Brown said. “Not only aren’t there pockets of empty seats, there are rabid, passionate, vocal fans who say what they want, and it’s Philly. … Whether they are booing or whether they are cheering, you feel the crowd.”

 Joel Embiid looking to put up a shot in the Sixers' win over Sacramento. .
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Joel Embiid looking to put up a shot in the Sixers' win over Sacramento. .

Starting five

The Sixers' Tobias Harris splits two Kings defenders.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
The Sixers' Tobias Harris splits two Kings defenders.

Back-to-backs

When the Sixers visit New York on Friday and host Indiana on Saturday it will be the third of 13 back-to-back sets they will play this season.

So much goes into the success of a back-to-back, especially where the Sixers played the first night of the two games and whether their opponent is also coming off a back-to-back.

Here is how the Sixers have fared so far in the first two.

  • Nov. 12 vs. Cleveland, 98-97 W
  • Nov. 13 at Orlando, 97-112 L

Before the Cleveland game, the Sixers had a day off after hosting Charlotte on Nov. 10. Cleveland also had a day off after visiting the New York Knicks on the 10th.

As for the Magic, they were well rested when the Sixers went to Orlando, having not played since Nov. 10 at home against Indiana. The Magic loss was also when Embiid sat out for load management considerations.

  • Nov 22 vs. San Antonio, 115-104 W
  • Nov. 23 vs. Miami 113-86 W

The Sixers had a day off before facing San Antonio, after beating the New York Knicks at home on Nov. 20. San Antonio had a day off after losing, 138-132 on Nov. 20 in Washington.

While the Sixers were home for both back-to-backs, Miami had to play in Chicago the night before, beating the Bulls, 116-108, before coming to Philadelphia for a rough homecoming for former Sixers forward Jimmy Butler.

Regarding this weekend: For the Saturday game, while the Sixers have to travel back from New York, Indiana must fly to Philadelphia after hosting Atlanta on Friday.

The Sixers' James Ennis III hangs onto the rim after dunking over the Knicks' Bobby Portis.
STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
The Sixers' James Ennis III hangs onto the rim after dunking over the Knicks' Bobby Portis.

Important Dates: Next Five Flow

Friday: Sixers at New York Knicks, 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus

Saturday: Indiana Pacers at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia and NBA TV

Monday: Utah Jazz at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia and NBA TV

Thursday: Sixers at Washington Wizards, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia

Dec. 7: Cleveland at Sixers, 7:30 p.m. NBC Sports Plus/NBA TV

The Sixers' Ben Simmons drives to the net between Sacramento's Buddy Hield (left) and Richaun Holmes.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
The Sixers' Ben Simmons drives to the net between Sacramento's Buddy Hield (left) and Richaun Holmes.

Passing the Rock

Question: I kept thinking that Ben Simmons would never be great if he didn’t have a jumper. He’d never be Magic Johnson if he couldn’t make them come out and guard him. Now I’m not so sure. Can he be great with the amazing skills he does have? He is incredibly athletic for a guy any size. At his size, it’s remarkable. His passing skills are outstanding and getting better. He drives to the basket like Iverson with a full foot on him. He is really good defensively with those long arms, great footwork & quick hands. I’m constantly defending the guy to people that are saying he’s a bust. Are they nuts? I think he’ll have an amazing career, maybe top 5 Sixers all time. Who knows. I also think, like Mike Schmidt, he won’t be appreciated until it’s over and you look at the body of work. I am learning to enjoy watching him play more every game. I hope more people climb on board. — Mark Rothbart via email.

Answer: Thanks for the email, Mark. You put a lot of thought into this and there were a number of good points. I agree with a lot of what you said, but I also don’t think Simmons will reach his full potential until he shoots the ball more from distance. I don’t necessarily mean thee-point range, but that 12-15-foot area, just to keep defenses honest. According to NBA.com stats, 74 of his 87 field goals this season have been from less than five feet. In addition, I think he has to be a little more consistent with the ball — witness his seven turnovers during Monday’s loss in Toronto and five more in Wednesday’s win over the Kings. On the positive side, his defense is strong and getting better, he has been a better leader this season, and he knows how to run an offense. Finishing at the rim has been a problem, but he has to keep attacking because there are few in the NBA who can stop him. Even without a jumper he could be an 8-10-time All-Star, and with improvement he could be among the top five players in the NBA.

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