Atlantic Notes: Claxton, Sixers, Embiid, Brown

The Nets are ready to welcome back Nicolas Claxton, who is expected to be available tonight after missing more than five weeks with a non-COVID illness, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Claxton was Brooklyn’s starting center in the first three games of the season, then moved to a reserve role for game four before the illness struck.

Claxton refused to comment on reports that he had mononucleosis, preferring to call it an “undisclosed” illness. He said the most difficult aspect of the experience was dropping weight off his already-slender 6’11” frame.

“The toughest part was just honestly just losing weight, and looking at yourself in the mirror and I was just so small,” Claxton said. “But I’m back now. I’m back in shape and ready to get back in game shape.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Trail Blazersfiring of general manager Neil Olshey may open the door for a trade with the Sixers, suggests Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. Olshey drafted backcourt stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum and has been reluctant to break them up. Both have been mentioned as possible returns for Philadelphia as the Sixers seek a resolution to the Ben Simmons standoff. Neubeck states that Portland may be more open to moving McCollum now that Olshey is no longer in charge, or Lillard may see Olshey’s firing as incentive to request a trade. While most Philadelphia fans prefer the second option, Neubeck believes a move with McCollum is more realistic.
  • In a separate story, Neubeck examines the Sixers‘ recent offensive struggles and looks at how the team can create more easy opportunities for Joel Embiid. Part of the problem occurs when Matisse Thybulle is used for defensive purposes, making it easier for opponents to double team Embiid. Neubeck says coach Doc Rivers needs to adjust his rotations, especially late in games. “The whole season I haven’t gotten any easy ones. It feels like I’ve got to work for everything, that’s why I say we’ve got to communicate,” Embiid said this week. “I’ve got to let my teammates and my guys know, and I probably got to come up with it myself, find ways that I can get easy ones. It just feels like I have to work for everything. I get doubled every single possession.”
  • Jaylen Brown experienced tightness in his right hamstring during Wednesday’s game and Celtics coach Ime Udoka plans to be “cautious” about playing him, tweets Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Brown missed eight games last month with a hamstring strain.
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