Sixers guard Seth Curry will miss Friday’s home contest against the Clippers with left ankle soreness, the team announced.
Curry was listed as questionable on Thursday evening’s injury report. He missed Jan. 10′s game at Houston with ankle soreness after tweaking it a few days prior. Curry is having a career season, averaging 15.8 points on 50.9% shooting, 4 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game.
Second-year guard Isaiah Joe replaced Curry in the starting lineup. Furkan Korkmaz also returned to the first group after Charlie Brown got the nod for Wednesday’s win against Orlando.
Wings Matisse Thybulle (shoulder) and Danny Green (hip) and backup point guard Shake Milton (back) all remained out for Friday’s game.
Rivers and Clippers reunite
Doc Rivers walked into Friday’s pregame media session with Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank, then joked that a trade had been completed between the two teams.
Rivers said it’s no longer strange to play against the Clippers, the team he coached from 2013-20 before both parties mutually decided to part ways following the 2019-20 season.
“[It will] just be good to see guys,” Rivers said.
That includes current Clippers coach Ty Lue, who credits Rivers with giving him his start in the profession.
When Lue was playing for Rivers with Orlando in 2003, Rivers told Lue he could join the coaching staff after he retired. Lue’s initial reaction was, “Hell no. I couldn’t deal with guys like me every single day.” But in 2009 Lue called Rivers, who gave him a spot on his Boston Celtics staff, then brought him to the Clippers four years later.
After Lue’s tenure as an assistant and head coach with Cleveland, where he won an NBA championship in 2016, he returned to Rivers’ Clippers staff before being elevated to the head coaching job following Rivers’ departure.
“He thought I was gonna be a coach before I knew I was gonna be a coach,” Lue said of Rivers. “[He’s] someone that’s mentored me my whole coaching career and someone I’ve looked up to. … The special part [of facing the Sixers] is just being able to see him.”
Maxey learning to manage the ‘dog days’
This chunk of the season is regularly regarded as the NBA’s dog days. The accompanying physical toll is a new experience for Tyrese Maxey, who was not a regular rotation player during a condensed 72-game season as a rookie.
Maxey’s minutes have risen sharply from 15.3 in 61 games last season, to 34.9 in 37 games entering Friday. Which means Maxey, who is known for his relentless work ethic, is learning how and when to pull back.
“I’ve really been working on it, trying to build a schedule, trying to build a routine,” Maxey said. “It’s really my first year playing a lot of minutes. Last year I knew, on a great night, I would play 20 minutes. But I knew I wasn’t gonna play more than that, so I knew the next day I was gonna go hard in the gym.
“Now, I play 42 minutes, maybe I can’t go to the gym or maybe if I do go, it’s just free throws and spot shots.”
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Korkmaz staying flexible
Korkmaz has played in 40 of the Sixers’ 44 games entering Friday, meaning he is often the player to slide into the spot of a teammate who is absent because of injury or COVID-19 health and safety protocols. In recent games he has played point guard, started at small forward or come off the bench.
Korkmaz said the primary difference between the roles is he becomes more of a playmaker with the second unit.
“With the first unit, there [are] more guys to create and that can score,” Korkmaz said. “I believe that’s the only [change]. But my mindset doesn’t change. I’m trying to be aggressive. I’m just trying to make the plays.”
Korkmaz so far has had an inconsistent season, averaging nine points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game while shooting 39.1% from the floor and 29.1% from three-point range. Entering Friday, he had made just one of his past 13 three-pointers.
Jaden Springer recalled
With Thybulle, Green and Milton all still sidelined, the Sixers on Friday recalled rookie guard Jaden Springer from the G League’s Delaware Blue Coats.
“We just felt like we needed another body,” Rivers said. " … Guys are out. Not sure when anyone’s coming back, and that’s why we brought him up.”
Springer has appeared in two games for the Sixers, scoring his first NBA basket late in a Dec. 26 win at Washington. In 12 games with the Blue Coats, he has averaged 17.2 points on 48.4% shooting, 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.5 steals.