Nicolas Batum‘s impact on the Sixers‘ defense has made him the most valuable player the team received in the James Harden trade, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The versatile swingman not only moved into the starting lineup, he routinely guards the opposition’s top scorer, a list that so far has included Anthony Edwards, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LeBron James and Brandon Ingram.
“It’s super valuable in a lot of ways, and he just does a lot of it by working,” coach Nick Nurse said. “Like he’s up the floor picking up full court. He’s in denial a lot. So the guy doesn’t even get it. That’s the easiest way to guard somebody if they don’t have the ball.”
Batum’s next assignment will be Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, but that’s only if he’s able to play Friday at Boston. Batum didn’t return to Wednesday’s game after he hyperextended his right index finger in the third quarter, reaggravating an existing injury.
“We will see (Thursday),” he said. “It’s new so I don’t know what’s going to happen. … We haven’t had an X-ray yet. It’s more like we will see what happens (Thursday).”
There’s more from Philadelphia:
- At age 35, Patrick Beverley is posting the lowest scoring average of his career at 3.3 points per game, but he continues to help the Sixers through a combination of defense, leadership and finding ways to motivate himself, Pompey notes in a separate story. On Monday, it involved a confrontation with former Lakers teammate Austin Reaves that led to them being separated by officials. Beverley, who is still seething about Reaves doing the “too small” gesture after scoring on him last season, commented about the matchup on his podcast. “Every time I see the Lakers until I retire — whatever team Austin Reaves is on — I’m on his ass,” Beverley said.
- Danuel House missed his third straight game Wednesday with a left quadriceps strain, Pompey states in the same piece. House tested the injury at the morning shootaround, and Nurse is hoping he’ll be able to participate in today’s practice. “We’ve been over a week now since he’s done anything, practice or game-wise,” Nurse said after the game. “I didn’t think it was much there. So it’s a little bit disappointing. But tomorrow we shall see if we can make some progress.”
- Tyrese Maxey‘s playing time has increased dramatically under Nurse, who was known for leaning heavily on his core players in Toronto, Pompey adds. Maxey is averaging 38.4 minutes per night, which would be the most since Jimmy Butler reached 38.7 with the Bulls nine years ago.