Nicolas Batum

Sixers Notes: Beverley, Morris, Bamba, Embiid

Patrick Beverley nearly led the Sixers to an unlikely win Friday night in Boston with three starters sidelined, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Playing without Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, who both missed the game due to illness, and Nicolas Batum, who was ruled out shortly before game time with a hyperextended right index finger, Philadelphia was able to hang around and almost pull out a road victory.

“Well, I think the biggest positive is I thought we outplayed them,” coach Nick Nurse said. “I thought we outplayed them. We gave ourselves a chance to win. We didn’t get many good bounces there the last two, three minutes of the game.”

The Sixers got a much-needed lift from Beverley, the veteran guard who was signed this summer to upgrade the defense and provide fiery leadership. Beverley did a little bit of everything on Friday, sinking 10 of 15 shots and delivering season highs with 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. He said he doesn’t alter his approach when his high-scoring teammates aren’t available.

“I don’t think my mindset really changes,” Beverley said. “I want to go out there and try to impact the game, impact winning.”

There’s more on the Sixers:

  • Marcus Morris is one of the few players who have been on both sides of the Celtics-Sixers rivalry, Pompey notes in a separate story. Morris is still a fan favorite in Boston, but the North Philadelphia native was thrilled to return home as part of the James Harden trade last month. “Philly is my hometown,” he said. “So playing for the Sixers is everything. My time here in Boston was great. The fans here were great. I loved playing here. But if there was a side I had to choose, it would be Philly.”
  • Embiid’s absence allowed third-string center Mohamed Bamba to play nearly 20 minutes and post season highs with 11 points and six rebounds, Pompey states in another piece. Bamba told reporters he feels like he has “a raw deal” in Philadelphia after signing as a free agent this summer, but he tries to be ready when opportunities arise. “It’s not easy to do,” he said of not playing regularly. “People think you’re not playing, you should be able to come in if you’re healthy and be ready to go. But a lot of basketball is having rhythm, having that continuity with the guys you’re out there with. I think being out there is a big part of it. But these guys make it easy for me to come in.”
  • Friday marked the first time this season the Sixers were able to remain competitive without Embiid, following blowouts in the previous two games he missed, Pompey adds. “The last couple of games without Embiid, we felt like we were really soft all together,” Morris said. “We were trying to make it a point with this game with Embiid on the court or without him on the court to come out and be aggressive and play aggressive, even if we are not making shots.”

Injury Notes: Oubre, Sixers, Edwards, Murray, Booker, Wiggins

Sixers wing Kelly Oubre was a full practice participant on Thursday and also did some extra work after practice, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Oubre hasn’t played since November 10 after being struck by a vehicle. There was initially some optimism that he could be upgraded from out to questionable for Friday’s matchup with Boston, but sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium that the veteran swingman is targeting a return next week, possibly Wednesday against Washington or Friday against Atlanta (Twitter link).

According to Pompey, X-rays on Nicolas Batum‘s injured finger were negative and he plans to play against the Celtics. Star center Joel Embiid is questionable with an illness, but head coach Nick Nurse thinks he’ll be ready to go, Pompey adds.

Here are a few more injury notes:

  • Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards sustained a bruised right hip on Tuesday against Oklahoma City after taking a hard fall, causing him to exit the game, according to an Associated Press report relayed by Edwards is officially listed as doubtful for Thursday’s game against Utah, but forward Kyle Anderson indicated the fourth-year guard won’t play, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Free agent addition Troy Brown is likely to start in Edwards’ place, Krawczynski adds (via Twitter).
  • Making his return from a hamstring injury on Wednesday, Nuggets guard Jamal Murray contributed 16 points (on 4-of-14 shooting), six rebounds and six assists in 22 minutes. However, he appeared to roll his right ankle and might miss Friday’s contest in Phoenix, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. Murray said he was “frustrated” by the ankle injury, which he iced throughout the game when he wasn’t playing.
  • The Suns got good and bad news on Wednesday. Kevin Durant returned from a two-game absence in the loss to Toronto, but Devin Booker suffered a right ankle injury after landing on Dennis Schröder‘s foot, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. It’s unclear if Booker will miss time with the injury, but he had his worst game of the season trying to play through it yesterday.
  • Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins has been ruled out of Thursday’s game against the Clippers, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. The former No. 1 overall pick is dealing with right finger soreness. Golden State will be shorthanded, as Chris Paul (leg contusion) and Gary Payton II (calf) are also out.

Sixers Notes: Batum, Beverley, House, Maxey

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.

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Celtics, Holiday, Batum, DiVincenzo

The Celtics‘ NBA-best record (11-2) suggests they’re doing just fine so far this season without longtime backcourt cornerstone Marcus Smart. However, conversations with Celtics players reveal that moving on from Smart and getting used to playing without him hasn’t been easy, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston.

“[Smart is] a big part of this culture,” Jayson Tatum said ahead of Boston’s Sunday matchup with the Grizzlies, Smart’s new team. “He was the most beloved Celtic that we had on our team. He was the heart and soul. To see him leave — I thought I was going to play with Smart my entire career. So seeing him leave was tough.”

“I’m going to miss watching him play basketball because he was a lot of fun to watch. Just creative and engaging and like really one-of-a-kind as a player,” Luke Kornet added. “He was a great teammate and player, and his competitive abilities were incredible.”

Having been diagnosed last week with a sprained left foot, Smart wasn’t able to take the court on Sunday in his first game against his former team. The veteran guard still got the opportunity to catch up with old friends and teammates, but he admitted in an interview with Abby Chin of NBC Sports Boston that it was disappointing not to be able to suit up on Sunday.

“We’ve been struggling and we got a great win (on Saturday),” Smart said, per Brian Robb of “To come back and play a team like Boston, not to be a part of it is definitely devastating.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • While Jrue Holiday is known most for his defensive ability and the Celtics have no shortage of scoring options, the team is encouraging the veteran guard to be aggressive on the offensive end of the court rather than simply deferring to teammates and focusing on defense, as Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe and Jay King of The Athletic detail. Holiday’s scoring average (12.9 PPG) is his lowest mark since his rookie year in 2009/10, but head coach Joe Mazzulla knows he’s capable of giving the team more if needed. “I told him…I watched you on film take things over when guys on the Bucks team were out and you won games because of what you did on both ends,” Mazzulla said last week.
  • Sixers forward Nicolas Batum was back with the team on Sunday after missing three consecutive games for personal reasons. According to Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link), Batum explained that he was away due to a health situation with his wife and expects to be back with the club for good now. “I can’t really say what it is, but I had to be there,” Batum said. “… Sometimes, you have to do what you’ve got to do for your family. She’ll be OK now.”
  • Donte DiVincenzo‘s connection to former Villanova teammates like Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart was one reason why he joined the Knicks as a free agent this past offseason, and he and Brunson showed on Saturday that the chemistry they established in college remains strong, per Steve Popper of Newsday. Starting alongside Brunson, who had 32 points of his own, DiVincenzo scored a career-high 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting. “I’m not really surprised by it. But it’s pretty cool to see it, one of your best friends playing that way,” Brunson said, adding that he’s “not taking it for granted” to get to play in the NBA with so many of his friends from Villanova.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Trent, Anunoby, Poeltl, Batum, Knicks

Down a pair of key players on Wednesday vs. Philadelphia, the Celtics got a boost from Derrick White – who scored 27 points – and Al Horford, who contributed 14 points, nine rebounds, and five blocks while playing strong defense against Joel Embiid, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

As Bontemps notes, White and Horford have taken a step back in the Celtics’ pecking order this season due to the offseason acquisitions of Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis. But with Porzingis and Jaylen Brown unavailable vs. the Sixers, White and Horford provided a reminder of their importance to the club.

“That’s the luxury that we have on our team,” Jayson Tatum said. “We have so many talented guys.”

It was a big night for Horford, in particular. While White has remained a permanent starter for the Celtics even after the offseason roster changes, Horford has been asked to come off the bench on a regular basis for the first time in his career. Coming into this season, he had been a reserve in just 10 of 1,013 regular season games. He has started only three of 10 this fall.

“We were we down a couple of guys so having to step up and create a spark plug was important for me to do,” Horford said, per Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. “I feel like that’s kind of been what I do for the most part, if I have to guard in the perimeter, if I have to guard in the post, create energy in different ways, shoot threes. I’m trying to do whatever I can to help our group.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • While Gary Trent Jr. (foot) is expected to suit up for the Raptors on Friday after missing the club’s last three games, forward OG Anunoby is listed as doubtful. As Josh Lewenberg of TSN tweets, Anunoby – who has been out for the past two games – received stitches on his lacerated right index finger and can still only shoot and dribble with his left hand.
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic doesn’t believe that the Raptors‘ decisions to give up a top-six protected first-round pick for Jakob Poeltl and then to sign him to a four-year, $78MM contract were bad ones in isolation, given that Poeltl is a quality NBA starting center. However, Koreen suggests that Poeltl’s fit with Toronto’s other frontcourt pieces hasn’t exactly been seamless so far. The team has a -9.9 net rating when Poeltl, Pascal Siakam, and Scottie Barnes have shared the court this season.
  • Sixers forward Nicolas Batum, who has been away from the team for personal reasons, is out for Friday’s game in Atlanta but will likely be back for Sunday’s contest in Brooklyn, tweets Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • Mark Jackson had been expected to call some Knicks games for MSG Network this season, but it seems that won’t happen after all, according to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post. Knicks management objected to having Jackson travel on the team plane, Marchand explains, in part due to an old “quarrel” between the former Warriors head coach and current Knicks assistant Darren Erman, who worked under Jackson in Golden State and recorded meetings without Jackson’s knowledge.

Sixers Notes: Wings, Oubre, Embiid, Maxey

For as good as the Sixers have been so far this season, the wing rotation remains a puzzle to figure out for the 8-2 squad, according to Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. As Mizell details, between the roster changes that occurred in the James Harden trade and players being in and out of the lineup for personal reasons or due to injuries, head coach Nick Nurse has had to continue experimenting with different combinations in those positions.

Danuel House had been out of the rotation for much of the season but logged 34 total minutes over the team’s past two games. He’s one player who has been affected by what Mizell refers to as the team’s “ever-changing wing hierarchy” but he says he’s not bothered by his inconsistent role.

“I’ve never been a player to go up in the coach’s office and be like, ‘Hey, Coach, what’s going on?'” House said on Tuesday. “I trust his process. He’s the coach. The organization hired him to make sure they would take care of them and us, to make sure that he’d get us where we need to be.”

Currently, the team is without Kelly Oubre (fractured rib) and Nicolas Batum (personal), which has resulted in minutes bumps for House and Marcus Morris. Furkan Korkmaz, who has requested to be traded out of Philadelphia in the past, is another player whose minutes have fluctuated.

“The difference this year is Nick is trying to get everybody in,” Korkmaz told Mizell. “It’s not like he chooses three guys and then lets those guys play 15 or 20 minutes. If it’s three minutes, five minutes, 10 minutes, whatever the minutes, he just puts people out there. It’s still early [in the] season. He’s just trying to find a way for the real rotation. … There [are] opportunities for everybody.”

Here’s more on the 76ers:

  • Surveillance footage that has been reviewed so far by the Philadelphia Police Department shows no evidence that a collision took place at the Center City intersection where Oubre reported being hit by a vehicle, a police spokesperson said on Wednesday, per Max Marin, Ximena Conde, and Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. A source who spoke to The Inquirer stressed that Oubre is new to the area and was shaken up after being struck by the vehicle, so he may not have provided an accurate account in his initial statement to police of when and where the alleged hit-and-run took place. The investigation into the incident is ongoing.
  • Oubre’s injury absence may not be as lengthy as initially anticipated, Appearing on NBA Countdown on Wednesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter video link) said there’s a “realistic expectation” that Oubre could return to action in about “two-plus weeks” — either around the end of November or start of December.
  • Star center Joel Embiid had been considered a game-time decision for Wednesday’s tilt vs. Boston after being listed as questionable due to left hip soreness, but he’s playing, as Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports tweets. Embiid, who has never appeared in more than 68 games in a season, has yet to miss a game in 2023/24.
  • Former Sixers guards Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, and Harden never turned into the sort of long-term partner for Embiid that the franchise envisioned, but there’s reason to believe Tyrese Maxey can be that player, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Through 10 games, Maxey has averaged 28.4 points, 7.0 assists, and 5.3 rebounds per night with a .493/.429/940 shooting line. “He’s running a pretty good floor game right now,” Nurse said last week. “He’s going to what’s open. And I think that was everybody’s question: Can he create for somebody else?” With Maxey showing his bona fides as both a scorer and a play-maker, the Sixers should be able to approach this season’s trade deadline confident they have two stars to build around, not just one, says Bontemps.

Sixers Notes: Maxey, Oubre, Batum, Harden Trade

During the best game of his career, Tyrese Maxey was thinking about his injured teammate, according to an ESPN report. The Sixers guard posted his first-ever 50-point performance in Sunday’s win over Indiana, then dedicated the outing to Kelly Oubre, who is recovering after being struck by a car Saturday night.

“This had nothing to do with me,” Maxey said. “This is all Kelly Oubre. We’re praying for him. Love my dawg. I just met him, but I love him. I hope he gets well soon.”

Oubre was on the mind of all the Sixers players in their first game since the accident, which left Oubre with a broken rib, along with bruises and cuts. They couldn’t reach him on FaceTime Sunday night, so they sent him a video of their locker room celebration.

“The game today, I’m sure Tyrese was thinking about it and we were all thinking about it,” Joel Embiid said. “We just want (Oubre) to take his time, recover and know that we have his back. He’s needed because he’s a big part of us. We missed him tonight, but he should take his time.”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Nicolas Batum replaced Oubre in the starting lineup, but the Sixers have plenty of options considering their roster depth following the James Harden trade, observes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Robert Covington and Marcus Morris, who were also acquired in that deal, should see expanded roles, and coach Nick Nurse has other experienced players he can turn to. “I would imagine, we’ve been using Covington, but (he) will probably take some of those minutes,” Nurse said. “There’s still (Furkan Korkmaz) and (Danuel House) there as well, kind of at that wing position that we can possibly see.”
  • The police report on Oubre states that he was hit in the upper chest by the mirror of a speeding silver vehicle and the driver left the scene, Pompey tweets. Oubre is reported to have injuries to his hip and right leg in addition to the broken rib. Nurse talked to Oubre and said he has an ‘”I’ll be back before you know it’ type of attitude.”
  • The Sixers are clearly a better team since resolving the Harden standoff, Pompey adds in a separate story. Batum and Covington have upgraded the defense, there’s more quickness all around and Maxey and Tobias Harris are thriving in expanded offensive roles.

Sixers Notes: Depth, Newcomers, Embiid, Maxey, Harden

The Sixers look like one of the league’s deepest teams and have a “different vibe” this season under new head coach Nick Nurse, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The other day at practice, we had three teams out, running through the plays,” Tobias Harris said. “We were on the sidelines, me, Joel [Embiid] and Tyrese [Maxey] were saying like we have 15 guys who can be in the rotation. With that means a lot of responsibility with guys just being professional and ready.”

As Pompey notes, newcomers Nicolas Batum and Robert Covington were in the rotation during Wednesday’s victory over Boston, with Batum part of the closing group.

Forward Marcus Morris, another newcomer acquired in the James Harden trade, has only played six minutes in one appearance this season. Nurse said he hopes to get a better look at the veteran forward (Twitter video link via Pompey).

I want to see him, definitely,” Nurse said. “I still think he’s got a spot in the rotation. He of all the people has played the least, so it’s just a little trickier with him. Just kind of waiting for our moment to give him a chance and see how he looks out there.”

Here are a few more notes out of Philly:

  • Gina Mizell of The Philadephia Inquirer (subscriber link) details how the four players acquired in the Harden deal — Batum, Covington, Morris and KJ Martin — have quickly acclimated to their new team. They’ve been going through film sessions, walk-throughs and scrimmages, with player development assistant Rico Hines leading the way. “It’s totally been a village in here,” Hines told Mizell, “with everybody helping [those players] get accustomed to whatever we’re trying to get accomplished. We’ve got a big picture in mind, and that’s what we’re trying to do. Just get a little better every day. Those guys see that. They feel that.”
  • After the Sixers defeated Boston on Wednesday and claimed the top spot in the East, reigning MVP Joel Embiid said the team has “a long way to go” but is “on the right path,” writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “There’s so many things that could’ve been better today,” Embiid said. “Taking care of the ball. Missed quite a few shots. Tyrese, he missed a lot of shots that he’s been making. We were not as efficient as we’ve been. But it happens. But, then again, I also like the effort and the intensity defensively, just being together, following the game plan.”
  • Maxey has repeatedly mentioned how much he appreciated James Harden as a mentor and teammate. Harden’s fondness for Maxey is quite evident as well, per Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “He works extremely hard; good things are definitely going to come his way,” Harden said. “He listens, he puts the work in, as a young guy in this league that’s all you can ask for. As he gets more reps at that scoring, play-making role, he’ll figure things out, you know, in a good way, how different teams are gonna guard him. I’m extremely and overly proud of him; he gets an opportunity to showcase his game. … I know he’s gonna have a really good year.”

Atlantic Notes: Batum, Claxton, Harden, Barrett

Nicolas Batum is expected to make his Sixers debut on Monday when they face the Wizards, Chris Hayes of TNT and Bleacher Report tweets.

Batum was included in the James Harden blockbuster. He’s been away from the Sixers for personal reasons but returned to Philadelphia over the weekend. Batum was a rotation player for the Clippers for three-plus seasons and averaged 18 minutes pere game this season before the deal.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Nets center Nic Claxton suffered a high left ankle sprain in the regular season opener and admits he’s exasperated by the lingering injury, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Claxton has shed a walking boot, but has yet to return to action. “It’s been frustrating, especially getting hurt the first game of the season, and even the way to the way I did it. But it’s coming along. I’m day-to-day now, just trying to keep myself in a good space, keep supporting my teammates,” he said. “After a couple days … I saw it was taking a little bit longer than I expected and everybody expected. Like I said, it’s frustrating but it’s an 82-game season, so what can you do? I’m not going to put myself in harm’s way. I’m just taking it day-by-day.”
  • Harden will make his Clippers debut against the Knicks and Jalen Brunson believes they could be an offensive juggernaut, Stefan Bondy of the New York Post relays. “Another weapon for them,” Brunson said. “They have a lot of great players over there. Really impressive résumés and all that stuff, and their careers have been nothing short of spectacular. So, it’s a lot of firepower. We’ve just gotta be ready to go.”
  • Knicks wing RJ Barrett has missed the last two games with knee soreness. Coach Tom Thibodeau indicated that Barrett could return on Monday. “He said he’s feeling a lot better,” Thibodeau said. Barrett is averaging 21 points this season.

Clippers Notes: Chemistry, Harden, Westbrook, Frank, Batum

Head coach Tyronn Lue said James Harden is in better shape “than I thought it would be” after the new Clippers guard participated in a scrimmage on Wednesday, according to Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times.

“He pushed the pace, he pushed the basketball, made plays for his teammates and he looked really good,” Lue said.

However, Lue realizes that developing chemistry among four ball-dominant players like Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Russell Westbrook will be an ongoing process.

“When you have four guys that can score the basketball and make plays, you know, this is just gonna be a process understanding our rotations, how we want to play, who we want to have on the floor together,” Lue said.

We have more on the Clippers:

  • Even though Westbrook and Harden were teammates in Oklahoma City, they bring different styles that will require constant adjustments, Lue told Mark Medina of The “Russ is more attack, get downhill and speed and pace. James is more slow, playing his game and so it’s a difference,” Lue said. “It’s a big difference between those two guys. Now when you’re staggering those guys, it’s going to be a different pace to the game.”
  • President of basketball operations Lawrence Frank isn’t worried about Harden making sacrifices, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes. “James Harden should have been an All-Star last year,” Frank said. “But he’s a 10-time All-Star. He has an elite skill set, and all he cares about is one thing: He wants to win a championship for the L.A. Clippers. He wants to be part of something bigger than himself. He’s had all the individual awards. He’s about doing something really special.”
  • In a detailed analysis, The Athletic’s Sam Amick elicited opinions from numerous scouts regarding how, or if, Harden can blend his skills with the current Clippers roster.
  • Nicolas Batum, one of the players dealt to Philadelphia in the Harden blockbuster, thanked the Clippers organization and their fans on social media. Batum noted that the organization and fans embraced him at “the lowest point in my career.” The veteran forward fell out of favor in Charlotte before joining the Clippers prior to the 2020/21 season.