Joel Embiid

Atlantic Notes: Anunoby, Kanter, Embiid, VanVleet

Much like they did with current All-Star Pascal Siakam and swingman Norman Powell, the Raptors are determined to turn erratic third-year forward OG Anunoby into a consistent, high-level contributor, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star.

“I think he needs more reps,” coach Nick Nurse reflected. “He needs some more chances to go out there and develop his game, and that’s got to be on me a little bit.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Sixers center Joel Embiid hopes to resume his All-Star season on the floor next week, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. Embiid underwent surgery January 10 to repair a torn radial collateral ligament in his left ring finger.
  • Due to a right hip contusion, Celtics center Enes Kanter will not return to action until at least Tuesday against the Heat, Brad Stevens relayed to Boston’s team Twitter account (link). In just 18.5 minutes per night, Kanter has produced impressive averages of 9.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG and 60.2% field goal shooting.
  • Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet, an unrestricted free agent in 2020, could be a great fit for the Knicks, Greg Joyce of the New York Post suggests. VanVleet, the best point guard in a limited free agent class, should be in line for a major pay upgrade from the two-year, $18MM contract he signed in 2018.

Joel Embiid Undergoes Hand Surgery

Sixers star center Joel Embiid underwent surgery on his left hand on Friday and will be reevaluated in 1-2 weeks, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

The reevaluation period was the same that the Sixers projected prior to the surgery.

Embiid opted for surgery after suffering a torn radial collateral ligament of the fourth metacarpal in his left hand. He dislocated his ring finger on Monday.

Embiid, 25, has averaged 23.4 PPG, 12.3 RPG, and 3.3 APG in 31 games this season. The Sixers moved Al Horford to the center spot and inserted Mike Scott at power forward in his absence on Thursday, when they defeated the Celtics.

Joel Embiid Undergoing Hand Surgery, Out At Least 1-2 Weeks

5:17pm: Embiid will undergo surgery on his left hand in New York tomorrow and will be re-evaluated in one or two weeks, according to the Sixers.

4:27pm: Sixers star center Joel Embiid has suffered a torn radial collateral ligament of the fourth metacarpal in his left hand, the team announced today in a press release. According to the 76ers, there’s no return timetable set for Embiid, who is evaluating potential treatment options.

Embiid, 25, had been his usual dominant self through 31 games for the Sixers, posting 23.4 PPG, 12.3 RPG, and 3.3 APG while anchoring one of the league’s best defenses and staying relatively healthy. However, he dislocated his left ring finger during Monday night’s game and it now appears that injury is a little more serious than initially feared.

Asked tonight whether Embiid would be out for the “foreseeable future,” head coach Brett Brown cautioned that it’s still too early to jump to conclusions.

I don’t know about the foreseeable future,” Brown said, per Derek Bodner of The Athletic (Twitter links). “It is disappointing for him not to play tonight, of course. … We’ll learn more, all of us, very soon.”

We’ll wait for an official update on how the Sixers and Embiid intend to treat the injury, but if the big man does miss some time, his absence figures to put more pressure on Ben Simmons to be the club’s primary play-maker and force Al Horford to play more minutes at the five.

Kyle O’Quinn could also see regular minutes, with little-used bigs like Norvel Pelle and Jonah Bolden sliding up on the depth chart as well.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Thybulle, Dinwiddie

The Sixers brought the intensity of a playoff basketball game earlier today as the team took down the conference-leading Bucks. Joel Embiid led the charge on the defensive end, where Philadelphia had a clear game plan to shut down Giannis Antetokounmpo.

“The whole season I’ve been humble, but I want to be defensive player of the year, and I feel like tonight showed it,” Embiid said after the win (h/t Torrey Hart of Yahoo! Sports).

The center has only missed six games this season after several seasons of spotty availability. Embiid could finally be on his way to taking home some regular-season hardware. Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • There’s some optimism that Matisse Thybulle‘s absence will only last about two weeks, Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports tweets. The rookie is expected to miss 2-to-4 weeks with a sprained knee.
  • The Nets‘ season has been filled with injuries and coach Kenny Atkinson is pleased with how the team has rallied. However, he knows a tough stretch is coming, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post relays. “It’s good. I’m pleasantly surprised [with the record],” coach Atkinson said.“It seems like when we have a guy down, someone steps up and the group comes closer together. … We’re going to have to see with this group if we can continue, and the schedule gets harder. 
  • The Nets might be dwelling in the Eastern Conference’s cellar if it weren’t for Spencer Dinwiddie being so good this season. While Atkinson is thankful for Dinwiddie’s contributions, he believes the guard can still improve, particularly with finishing at the rim, as Brian Lewis of the New York Post passes along.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Thomas, Burke, Smart

Sixers center Joel Embiid called on his team to play a tougher brand of basketball after a recent tough stretch, one that saw the team lose two straight home games in three days. Before these losses, Philadelphia led the NBA with a 14-0 record at home.

“I feel like, especially tonight, we were playing scared,” Embiid said of the team’s loss against Dallas on Friday, as relayed by Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “Basketball is easy. You just shoot it, pass it, move it. If you don’t got a shot just pass it.

“But tonight, like I said, we didn’t make shots, and defensively we were pretty bad.”

Philadelphia also lost to Miami at home before Friday’s game against Dallas, with both opponents challenging the club by playing a rare brand of zone defense.

Embiid finished with 22 points and 19 rebounds against Miami, following it up with a 33-point, 17-rebound performance against Dallas. The Sixers did manage to defend home court against the Wizards on Saturday, however, winning that game 125-108.

“I think that the influence that our inability lately, to, like, be put on our back heels against the zone has crept into our defense, our psyche, our spirit,” coach Brett Brown said. “And I can’t stand it.

“This is not who we are. It’s not who we are. … I love coaching these guys, because I respect them. And I feel like our competitive spirit has taken a dent because of our inability to score, and I think that any time you get into a mood swing that affects your defense because your offense is doing something, it needs to be addressed.”

The Sixers have a 21-10 record and are six games out of first place in the East, trailing the Bucks, Celtics, Heat and Raptors as of Sunday night. They have upcoming games scheduled against the Pistons on Monday and Bucks on Christmas Day.

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic Division:

  • The two Sixers fans who played a role in the confrontation with Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas on Saturday night have received a one-year ban from Wells Fargo Center, according to ESPN. A 76ers spokesperson said the fans admitted to using explicit language and gestures toward Thomas, who walked into the spectator stands and approached the duo before being ejected. “I said: ‘Don’t be disrespectful. I’m a man before anything. Be a fan.’ His response was, ‘I’m sorry, I just wanted a Frosty,'” Thomas said. The Sixers held a promotion where fans would be awarded a free Frosty in the event that an opposing player missed two straight free throws.
  • Celtics coach Brad Stevens said that Marcus Smart (eye infection) is improving, but the 25-year-old is still unlikely to play on Christmas Day against Toronto, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston tweets. “Marcus Smart is doing better. He was … going to the facility tonight to get on the floor and shoot a little bit.” Smart hasn’t done much work since the month started, with the team planning on ramping up his activities in the coming days.
  • Sixers guard Trey Burke is continuing to thrive in limited opportunities, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Burke finished with 12 points and five rebounds in 15 minutes of work against Washington, shooting 5-of-6 from the floor.

Atlantic Notes: Shumpert, Embiid, Smith Jr., Harris

Veteran guard Iman Shumpert became a victim of league rules when the Nets were forced to make a tough decision last week, waiving the 29-year-old after having him on the roster for less than a month.

Brooklyn was required to create an open roster spot with forward Wilson Chandler set to return from a 25-game suspension, leaving the team with the choice of waiving a player or working to find a suitable trade. Chandler was suspended at the start of the season for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy.

“I think we understand the circumstances,” coach Kenny Atkinson said of waiving Shumpert, as relayed by Mollie Walker of the New York Post. “Everybody understands the circumstances. I know this: That guy [Shumpert] belongs in the league. He proved that in the time he was with us. But circumstances just dictated with Wilson coming back. It’s just how it is.”

Shumpert provided a spark off the bench in 13 games, particularly on the defensive end, but he struggled in limited time offensively by averaging 4.2 points on 33% shooting from the floor and 24% from deep.

Following the news of his waiving, Shumpert took to social media and thanked the Nets for his brief opportunity with the franchise.

“The Brooklyn Nets are a first class organization from top to bottom,” he wrote. “It was great to be with you guys even for the short stay! I’m around.”

For teams seeking a veteran defender at the wing position, Shumpert remains available on the free-agent market. He holds several years of experience and was part of the 2015/16 Cavaliers team that won an NBA championship, making other stops with New York, Sacramento and Houston in his career.

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Sixers center Joel Embiid hears the outside criticism and knows how to deal with it, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe writes. Embiid was challenged by the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley to provide more of a consistent effort going forward, responding by tallying 38 points, 13 rebounds and six assists against the Celtics on Thursday.
  • Interim Knicks coach Mike Miller opted not to use Dennis Smith Jr. in the team’s game against Sacramento on Friday, giving the young guard a DNP-CD, Marc Berman details for the New York Post. Miller utilized guards Frank Ntilikina and Elfrid Payton, pulling away with a 103-101 victory despite Ntilikina’s struggles.
  • Sixers forward Tobias Harris is making a strong case for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Harris has averaged 19.8 points and seven rebounds in 27 games this season, shooting 49% from the floor. He has yet to make an All-Star team during his nine-year career.

Atlantic Notes: Leonard, Webster, Theis, Celtics

It might seem like Kawhi Leonard was intent on playing in Los Angeles long-term but he insists he gave serious thought to the idea of re-signing with the Raptors, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

“Gave it big consideration,” the Clippers superstar said. “I took my time like I did; I didn’t hurry up and make a quick decision. I talked to the (Raptors’) front office in deep detail. It was a hard choice to make.”

Leonard added that he had no issues with the Raptors organization. “I had a great time last year with the coaching staff, front office and the players. It was a great experience,” he said.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors president Masai Ujiri gets plenty of credit for building a championship team but GM Bobby Webster’s influence should not be underestimated, as Dan Robson of The Athletic details in a profile of the young executive. One player agent told Robson that Webster is heavily involved in all aspects of personnel decisions. “Bobby is making a lot of the decisions in terms of everything they do,” the unnamed agent said. “Masai is the lead role and the face of the program, and obviously very involved … but Bobby is the driving force, at least for me, for a lot of the decisions they make.”
  • Celtics big man Daniel Theis is aware of the perception that the frontcourt is the team’s weakness but he tries to drown out the noise, as he told Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston“We have so many bigs and it’s whoever plays good that night,” said Theis. “You don’t guard the best bigs with one person. It’s a team effort. We’re [the third best team] in the East and we’re playing really good basketball as a team. So, no, I don’t listen to that.”
  • Despite what Theis believes, the Celtics will probably need another quality big man to get past Philadelphia and Milwaukee in the postseason, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated argues. Joel Embiid‘s monster game against Boston on Thursday put the Celtics’ frontcourt issues on full display, Mannix adds.

Sixers Notes: Road Woes, Embiid, Clarkson

The Sixers traveled to Washington on Thursday and got ambushed by the Wizards’ high-powered offense. The loss brings the team’s record to 5-7 on the road (Philadelphia is 10-0 at home) and coach Brett Brown was asked about the team’s difference in play home vs. away.

“I have no idea,” Brett Brown told Hoops Rumors and other media in attendance at the Capital One Arena on Wednesday night. Brown added that the team was too careless both in its turnovers and in allowing Davis Bertans (7-of-13 from behind the arc) to get space early in the contest.

“Some of it you shake your head and you give Bertans a lot of credit,” Brown said after the game. “Some of the shots that he was making you give him some credit. When you go back and you do coach stuff, and you look at it, I think the separation that he received was too careless. That’s what the game was telling you, you got it going. I didn’t think that we responded from a sense of urgency standpoint like we needed to.”

Here’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Tobias Harris, who re-signed with Philly on a five-year deal this offseason, pinpointed the Sixers’ defense as an area that let them down on Thursday night. “We should not be losing,” Harris told Hoops Rumors and other media members in attendance. “There is a high expectations for our group, for our team. There are expectations to win on the road, at home. Just come out every night and play to win and to win a game. Tonight, [there is] big frustration just on how we defended, because it was like they were just picking and choosing whatever they wanted, so that is the big frustration.”
  • The game in Washington was a physical one in the paint with Moritz Wagner, Bertans, and Ian Mahinmi making Joel Embiid work for everything he got in the paint. After the contest, Embiid was experiencing hip soreness and he’s been ruled out of Saturday’s game vs. the Cavs with a left hip contusion, as Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Twitter link).
  • Sam Amico of SI.com hears that the Sixers are among the teams interested in Jordan Clarkson. There’s no indication on whether Cleveland is interested in dealing the combo guard.

Sixers Notes: Thybulle, Simmons, Embiid

Rookie Matisse Thybulle has special skills for a defender but his discipline is what is going to allow him to play more minutes for the Sixers, as Derek Bodner of The Athletic writes.

“I should have a higher tolerance level to endure his wild decisions defensively,” head coach Brett Brown said after the team’s contest against the Jazz. “Because they are punishing. This league is so unforgiving when you just forget, ‘Oh, I left Joe Ingles, I forgot he could shoot, and I’m just going to make any play I want — And oh, my bad.’ [Thybulle] is getting better at that and I have to allow him to get better at that.”

If Thybulle had joined the Sixers three or four years ago, he’d have plenty of court time to experiment and grow. However, this is not “The Process” version of the Sixers any longer. The stakes are much higher as the team looks to make its first NBA Finals appearance since 2001.

“I’m always reminding myself, if we woke up tomorrow and it’s April 15th, would I feel comfortable that I’ve grown him the way that I should? And I need to do more, and better, sort of within the confines of what I’ve just said,” Brown said.

Here’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Thybulle, whom the team traded up in the 2019 draft to nab, isn’t taking his playing time for granted. The rookie is using his court time to learn from his mistakes and gain the reps needed to be a contributor on a playoff team. “Just being out there and seeing it live, I think, is huge,” Thybulle said (via Bodner in the same piece). “Most of these games, it’s my first time [playing against a team]. We played against [Utah] twice now, so I had a better feel for the guys. And just with each game, I get a better feel for the pace and what I can get away with, with the refs or with help-side and those types of gambles.”
  • With Ben Simmons and Thybulle on the squad, the Sixers have options when defending opposing perimeter threats, Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia explains. The duo shared defensive duties guarding Utah’s Donovan Mitchell on Monday and held him to just 6-for-19 from the field.
  • Some around the league aren’t thrilled with Joel Embiid and his antics on the court. Pacers assistant coach Dan Burke wasn’t shy when given the platform to discuss the big man’s style (h/t Dan Feldman of NBC Sports). “I hate that team…I think Embiid gets away with a bunch of crap the league ignores,” Burke said of Indiana’s recent matchup with the Sixers.

Atlantic Notes: McConnell, Hayward, Nets, Embiid

Former Sixers guard T.J. McConnell returned to Philadelphia when the Pacers took on the team Saturday night, marking his first time playing in Wells Fargo Center since changing teams in free agency this past summer.

“It’s good being back, seeing all of the faces and all of the people you build a relationship with,” McConnell said, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s a lot of great people here, and I miss them.”

McConnell, 27, joined the Pacers on a two-year deal last summer after spending four seasons with the Sixers. He quickly earned the respect of his coaches and fans during his stint with Philadelphia, appearing in at least 75 games in each of his four campaigns.

“Starting here, winning 10 games,” he said of the team going 10-72 his rookie season. “Then, at the end of my tenure here, you are one shot away from going to the Eastern Conference Finals. That’s a pretty incredible journey that we went on.”

McConnell has provided consistency and professionalism for the Pacers during the 2019/20 season, averaging seven points, 4.7 assists and 17.4 minutes in 17 games thus far.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division today:

  • Celtics forward Gordon Hayward will have another meeting with his doctor on Monday to determine the next steps in his recovery process, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link). Hayward has missed the past three weeks due to a fractured hand, with his meeting on Monday set to take place over FaceTime, coach Brad Stevens said.
  • Sopan Deb of the New York Times examines how the Nets keep winning without three of their best players, detailing the strong teamwork, camaraderie and togetherness the group has shown in the wake of adversity. Brooklyn is currently without Kevin Durant (Achilles), Kyrie Irving (shoulder) and Caris LeVert (thumb).
  • Sixers center Joel Embiid was fueled by his first-ever scoreless game against the Raptors last week, Erin McCarthy of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Embiid finished that game with zero points on 0-for-11 shooting, but bounced back in the contests that followed. He scored 33 points on Wednesday, 27 points on Friday and 32 points on Saturday.