Happy Monday, folks.
Let’s all try to make today the start of a good week. I know that’s what the 76ers are looking to do. Tonight’s game against the Pacers in Indianapolis will be the first of four contests in a six-day stretch for the Sixers (25-15).
They shouldn’t lack motivation for tonight’s matchup at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Their last trip there was an embarrassing, 115-97 setback to the Pacers (24-15) on New Year’s Eve. Indiana broke the game open with a 17-2 run to start the second quarter, taking a 46-29 lead with 6 minutes, 24 seconds before intermission.
We’ll find out if the Sixers can erase memories of that performance. We’ll also find out if they can snap their five-game road losing streak.
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— Keith Pompey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sixers coach Brett Brown was loud.
It was midway through the second quarter of Saturday’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Tobias Harris received a pass at the top of the key. Brown, standing near midcourt, immediately yelled, ‘Shoot it!’
Yep, there’s no denying what the Sixers coach wants to see more from Harris while center Joel Embiid is out with a hand injury. Embiid had surgery Friday to repair a torn radial collateral ligament in the ring finger of his left hand. The procedure typically requires a month of healing followed by several weeks of physical therapy, sports medicine specialists say.
“When there are long closeouts, we want him to think, ‘I’m scoring,’ ” Brown said of Harris. “ ‘I’m going to catch and shoot it. This [charging defender] is wild and out of control — I’m going to drive it. Or if they really arrive soon, I’m going to pass it.’ ”
The Sixers have been talking about that from Day 1 with Harris. However, it’s been exacerbated with Embiid sidelined.
Harris scored 20 points, making 9 of a game-high 22 shots, in the 109-91 setback to the Mavs. Sixteen of his shots came in the first half. That came two days after Harris had 16 points and hit 7 of a team-high 17 shots in a 109-98 victory over the Boston Celtics.
For the season, he is averaging 19.4 points and 15.8 shots.
“He’s been telling me a lot to look for my shot, to kind of get them up,” Harris said of Brown. “Obviously, I’m an in-the-flow player. There’s a balance between the both of them. I try to be a very efficient player. That is part of my game. There’s a balance of it.
“But I respect where Coach is coming from and I understand where he’s coming from.”
Harris won’t take a bad shot just for the sake of shooting the ball. Yet he’s aware of his new role. He also appreciates the confidence that Brown has in him.
Former Sixer Boban Marjanovic had a great time Saturday night vs. his old squad.
The Mavericks reserve center finished with 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting. One of his highlights was his three-pointer that led to his playful trash talk to Harris, his best friend.
Marjanovic made the three in front of the Mavs’ bench with 21.5 seconds left while Harris was out of the game. The Serbian looked over at the Sixers bench after getting back on defense and told Harris the three was for him.
Today: Sixers at Indiana Pacers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Wednesday: Brooklyn Nets at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia, ESPN
Friday: Chicago Bulls at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia, ESPN
Saturday: Sixers at New York Knicks, 7:30 p.m. NBC Sports Philadelphia
Next Monday: Sixers at Brooklyn Nets, 3 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Question: Are the Sixers at the point where they need to consider blowing up this roster by trading Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons to take the next step forward? If Ben doesn’t shoot how can we take the next step? — from @MiamiMeech on Twitter
Answer: What’s up, Meech? Thanks for asking the great question. It’s too soon to start blowing things up.
I know that Embiid and Simmons haven’t been a great fit this season. However, I would like to see how that pairing would be if surrounded by added shooting. I think the Sixers are too good to start blowing things up. They just need to make several tweaks.
However, if they make tweaks and the problems still persist, then I do think they’ll definitely have to consider making changes after the season.