The Sixers saw an unexpected glimpse of success last month but recent losses could help the team focus on their real goals, writes Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Injuries to Joel Embiid and Robert Covington have hamstrung a team that not long ago emerged as a surprisingly potent defensive presence, now any talk of them rallying for a playoff spot in the East has been silenced.
According to Cooney, the only presumed Sixers starters for the 2017/18 season are Embiid and 2016 first-overall pick Ben Simmons. That leaves questions at the other positions that will need answering before the end of the season.
There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:
- The idea that Carmelo Anthony will be swapped for Kevin Love may be unlikely, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, but it isn’t far-fetched. Zillgitt also points out that the Cavaliers and Knicks, serendipitously play each other on February 23, the day of the trade deadline.
- The Anthony trade drama impacts more than just the veteran himself, writes Al Iannazzone of Newsday — it’s affecting all the other Knicks on the roster. “The reason why we signed here is to try to make the playoffs, and we still have a great chance of doing that,” said Courtney Lee. “That’s the key now — getting in the playoffs. It doesn’t matter what the record is. As long as we get in there, it’s a new slate. So if we get there, I like our chances.”
- Big man Willy Hernangomez has looked great off the bench for the Knicks of late but that doesn’t mean a promotion ahead of Joakim Noah on the depth chart is coming any time soon, writes Ian Begley of ESPN. Head coach Jeff Hornacek cites lineup chemistry as one of the biggest reasons why Hernangomez has thrived as he has and why the club is reluctant to tinker with his spot in the rotation.
- It’s time for the Raptors to make a trade, writes Tom Ziller of SB Nation. The team boasts a plethora of prospects and a top-five general manager in the league. Those, Ziller speculates, could help the club get back into a position where it could seriously compete with Cleveland for the top spot in the East.