Embiid: ‘It’s all about doing whatever it takes to win a championship’

Joel Embiid had a monster game on Sunday night against the Jazz, and the 76ers needed all of it. Embiid scored a career-high 59 points (19-28 FG, 20-24 FT) to go with 11 rebounds, eight assists, and seven blocks as the 76ers defeated the Jazz 105-98 at Wells Fargo Center. 

According to Stathead, Embiid’s 59-point outing is the fifth-highest-scoring game in team history. In addition, he became the first player to reach such totals in the same game since blocked shots became a statistic in 1973-74. 

Embiid scored 26 of the team’s 27 fourth-quarter points and blocked five shots in the quarter. He did it all for Philadelphia.

The points were great, but the blocks and rebounds impressed 76ers head coach Doc Rivers.

I’ve seen guys score a lot of points. I haven’t seen guys score a lot of points, rebound, and then the block shots,” Rivers said after the in. “That was impressive. He was getting everything. I’ve never seen a more dominating performance when you look at both offense and defense.”

Embiid, who had 42 points against the Hawks on Saturday night, has scored 101 points in the last two games. According to the five-time All-Star, it’s all about winning.

“We still have a lot more to accomplish,” he said. “We can talk about whatever tonight, stats and all of that tonight, but that’s not what matters. It’s all about doing whatever it takes to win a championship. That would be the best thing ever. It doesn’t matter if I’m averaging 10 points, 30, or whatever; if we win a championship, that’s all that matters.”

Tyrese Maxey scored 18 points for the 76ers on Sunday night, and what impressed him was seeing Embiid score 59 points on the second half of a back-to-back.

“He’s [Joel Embiid] a soldier,” Maxey said. “He was coming in saying his shoulder was hurting and stuff like that. For him to go out there and play and give it his all is huge. It’s huge for this team and huge for this organization. Your best player, after a 42-point performance last night on a back-to-back, he comes out here and dominates again. Has 59-points and seven blocks and ten boards, and eight assists. Just his presence was really good tonight. He made shots. He made free throws. He’s just good at basketball. It’s that simple.”

This was an exceptional performance by Embiid, but again, most importantly, the 76ers got two big wins over the weekend to even their record at 7-7. It’s still early, but this would be a good time for Philly to start stringing together some wins.

Report: Montrezl Harrell signs with 76ers

All-Star center Joel Embiid wanted toughness in Philadelphia, and Daryl Morey has done just that. He added P.J. Tucker in free agency, traded for De’Anthony Melton, and according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, they grabbed more toughness as they signed free agent center Montrezl Harrell to a two-year deal worth $5.2 million, including a player option.

Harrell, 28, spent last season with the Wizards and Hornets, where he averaged 13.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per contest off the bench. Harrell will be reunited with Doc Rivers; the two were together with the Clippers, and Harrell had a lot of success, including winning the 2019-20 Sixth Man of the Year award.

According to Wojnarowski, 76ers star James Harden, who signed a team-friendly team, recruited Harrell to Philly, and fortunately for Harden, he got his man.

Harrell got into legal trouble in the offseason as he was charged with marijuana trafficking in May after a traffic stop in Kentucky; the charges were later reduced to misdemeanor possession, and he avoided jail time.

The 76ers needed a reliable backup for Embiid, and the seven-year veteran fits the bill. Philadelphia is looking to win now, and they are clearly all in on trying to do it in the 2022-23 NBA season. 

76ers’ Harden: ‘This is where I want to win, and I think we have the pieces to accomplish that goal’

On Wednesday, the Philadelphia 76ers made it official as they announced the re-signing of James Harden.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, it’s a two-year deal worth $68.6 million with a player option in Year 2. Harden took a pay cut after opting out of his contract, which would have paid him $47 million next season. With the pay cut, Philadelphia was able to add P.J. Tucker and Danuel House in free agency. In addition, they acquired De’Anthony Melton in a draft-day trade with the Grizzlies.

Harden, who was acquired by the 76ers as part of a five-player trade with the Nets in February, averaged 22.0 points (.410 FG, .330 3FG, .877 FT), 7.7 rebounds, 10.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and 37.2 minutes in 65 games played (all starts) between Brooklyn and Philadelphia.

In 21 games with the 76ers, he averaged 21.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 10.3 assists per contest in 21 games. Also, last season, the 13-year veteran was named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team.

“This is where I want to be. This is where I want to win, and I think we have the pieces to accomplish that goal,” Harden said via a press release announcing the move. “From my first day with the 76ers organization, the team and the fans have helped me feel at home here in Philadelphia. I’m excited to build off of last season, and I can’t wait to get out on the court with the guys and start this journey.”   

76ers head coach Doc Rivers added: “I couldn’t be happier with James’ decision to commit to our organization. Over the last two years, we have taken major steps toward our ultimate goal of becoming champions,” said 76ers Head Coach Doc Rivers. “James shares our drive to win a title, and he believes being a 76er gives him the best opportunity to do that. Together, we will work tirelessly to achieve our goal.”  

Before last season with the Nets and 76ers, Harden spent parts of nine seasons (2012-21) with the Rockets. During that time, Harden was named the 2017-18 NBA MVP after leading the NBA in points per game (30.4) and finishing third in assists (8.8). The 10-time All-Star was also among the top-three vote-getters for the award each season from 2016-20. 

“James Harden is one of the greatest players in NBA history and a future Hall of Famer,” said 76ers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey. “His mission is to win an NBA title, and we’re thrilled that he will continue that journey here in Philadelphia… I believe we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible in his partnership with Joel and this talented roster.”  

Rivers on Embiid: ‘I don’t think he gets enough credit how good of a defensive player he is’

The Philadelphia 76ers got a big boost Friday night when their All-Star and probably soon-to-be league MVP Joel Embiid returned after missing the for two games of their second round series against the Miami Heat with a broken orbital bone and concussion. 

Embiid did his job on the offensive end as he had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and he also anchored a defense that held Miami to 79 points as Philly defeated the Heat 99-79 at Wells Fargo Center. 

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Miami still leads the series 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday night in Philly.

According to StatHead, this marked the first time since the 2012 postseason where Philly has held an opponent to fewer than 80 points.

After the win, head coach Doc Rivers discussed the presence of Embiid.

I mean, just his presence, obviously, to start the game,” Rivers said. “His energy, his rebounding. His ability at the basket. I’ve said it all year; you could see his timing was off a little bit. But his presence defensively, I really don’t – I don’t think he gets enough credit how good of a defensive player he is and how much he helps us. And I thought tonight; it was a lot of that.”

According to Embiid, he did not have a lot of energy, but he was pleased with what he did defensively.

 “I didn’t think I had a lot of energy, honestly,” Embiid said. “I was really trying to really get through it. Kind of, you just use my presence out there as a decoy. I feel like I pride myself really defensively. And I feel like that’s where my presence is really felt. On the defensive end. So that’s one of the main reasons why playing I thought I could have a huge impact.”

Embiid, who stayed back in Philly for Games 1 & 2, had a hard time watching his team struggle in Miami. 

“It was very annoying just watching,” he said. “Obviously, we didn’t make shots, but we also made a lot of mistakes. Whether it was offensive rebounding or turnovers. Their big fella, Bam [Adebayo], was dominating. And I was really pissed off watching another big man play well against my team. It’s unfortunate. Can’t take it back. Now we’ve just got to focus on the next game.”

Role players play better at home, and Danny Green played his role and then some as he had a team-high tying 21 points, including a playoff career-high seven threes. 

In the first two games of this series, Green was 2-14 from deep, but that all changed Friday night. However, he’s not satisfied.

“It felt good to be able to help my team and do my job, that’s it,” Green said. “I’m not in any way, shape, or form satisfied; we are not taking any deep breaths or exhaling; we know we have to win another game, so we have to stay locked in and focused, taking it one game at a time, hopefully, we can keep that momentum and have another decent shooting night on Sunday.”

After going scoreless in the first half, Maxey went off in the second half as he had 21 points, including 14 points in the fourth.

“I just started being aggressive,’ Maxey said. “I kind of was, you know, let the game come to me a little bit. Got the Big Fella [Joel Embiid] back. James [Harden] was attacking and doing a really good job of that. And, I don’t really have to force anything. It’s kind of get it where I can fit in at, and when it’s time to make some big shots, I’m gonna try to make some big shots.”

The 76ers have a chance in this series as long as Embiid is on the court, and while he was not at his best, he was good enough. Can we expect Miami to shoot 35% from the floor and go 7/30 downtown in Game 4? Probably not. However, in his second game back, Embiid might be better, and the 76ers, who had 19 turnovers in Game 3, could be better on offense as well.

If Philly wants to make it a series, they have to win Game 4, and we’ll see if they can make that happen on Sunday.

Notes:

For the Heat, Jimmy Butler scored a game-best 33 points to go along with nine rebounds and two steals.

Back to Danny Green. he joins former 76er Seth Curry(who was in attendance Friday night) and Hall of Famer Allen Iverson as the only players in team history with at least seven made three-pointers in a playoff game (Stathead).

James Harden had 17 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. He also had seven turnovers. 

As a team, Philadelphia shot well from beyond the arc(16-33 (.485).

76ers assistant Joerger stepping away from team for cancer treatments

Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Dave Joerger is stepping from the team to continue cancer treatments. According to ESPN, Joerger has a form of “head and neck” cancer.

The 47-year-old Joerger reportedly told the team after their loss to the Pacers on Saturday night about his diagnosis.

Joerger released the following statement through the team:

“I will be stepping away from the bench, effective immediately, as I was recently diagnosed with a treatable form of cancer. I will take this time to focus on my health and I look forward to rejoining the team once I’ve completed the treatment process. 

“Over the last few months, I learned the importance of self-evaluation and care, early detection and annual medical exams. I know I will beat this diagnosis with the help of my world-class medical team at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center – Jefferson Health, under the direction of Dr. David M. Cognetti, Dr. Voichita Bar Ad and Dr. Jennifer Johnson. I would like to thank the entire medical team and support staff at Jefferson Health for their extraordinary care. I would also like to acknowledge Josh Harris, David Blitzer, Doc Rivers, Daryl Morey, Elton Brand and the entire 76ers organization. Their unwavering support has allowed me to concentrate all of my efforts towards beating cancer. Most importantly, thank you to my wife Kimberly and my loving family who continue to provide me with strength.  

“The game of basketball has given me so much, highlighted by the extended support system and lifelong friendships I have been able to form. I look forward to using my platform to continue to raise awareness and help support the fight against cancer.”

 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said the following about Joerger:

“Dave is not only one of the most talented and respected coaches in the NBA, but he’s a great friend, colleague, husband and father. The same positivity, enthusiasm and grit that have made him a successful coach will also carry him through his fight against cancer. I know I speak for everyone at the 76ers when I say, “Get well soon, we love you and we’ll be with you throughout this entire process. Your battle is our battle.” 

Joerger joined the 76ers last season as assistant after being a head coach in Memphis and Sacramento.

76ers’ Rivers on win over Blazers: ‘I thought every single guy did something to help us win the game”

The Philadelphia 76ers(5-2) made it three in a row after defeating the Portland Trail Blazers(3-4), 113-103, on Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center. 

Without their top two leading scorers in Joel Embiid(rest) and Tobias Harris(Health and Safety Protocols), the 76ers were still able to get it done. Philadelphia had seven players in double figures led by Seth Curry’s 23 points.

The Sixers had a 10-point lead in the fourth before the Blazers cut it to three with just over four minutes left. However, Philly would close the game on a 9-2 run to get the victory.

Here is the Great, Not so Great, and Bottom line of Philly’s win over Portland.

The Great for the 76ers:

-Seth Curry scored seven of his 23 points in the fourth. This was Curry’s third game of 20 points or more this season. He was 10/17 from the field, including 3/10 from downtown.

-Georges Niang had a season-high 21 points, grabbed five rebounds and five assists off the bench. Niang had his first 20-5-5 game of his career. He’s been a great addition off Philly’s bench and was huge on Monday night.

-Andre Drummond stepped in for Embiid and was big-time against the Blazers. The nine-year veteran had a loaded stat line with 14 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, five steals, and one block. This is the first game a player has posted a 10-15-5-5 line in the league since the 2018-19 season (Stathead).

Turnovers: Philadelphia forced 15 Portland turnovers, with 11 coming by way of the steal. The 76ers scored 17 points off turnovers on Monday night. 

Sharing is caring: Without Embiid and Harris, Philadelphia needed to share the ball and get everybody involved. The Sixers had a team season-high 34 assists of 43 field goals. Since the 2017-18 season, Philadelphia is 67-10, when they have 30-plus assists. (Stathead).

“Yeah, it was great. I was joking with Michael Rubin; I said, ‘you only had $105 million not in the game tonight,” 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said after the game. “So, it was just a good team effort. The guys, we went with some crazy lineups—a lot of small ball. [Andre Drummond] was fantastic in his role. It was one of those games where I thought every single guy did something to help us win the game. They kind of stay within their roles. They understood what we needed. Getting to the paint. Creating plays.”

The Not So Great for the 76ers:

The fans: With Ben Simmons still on the roster, the fans chanting “We want Lillard” is a little inappropriate. However, I get it, but in the end, Lillard is a Blazer, and you don’t yell for an opposing player to come to Philly while he’s on another team’s roster.

Bottom Line:

This was a game the 76ers would have lost last season. Drummond is the best backup center Philly has had for Embiid, and he paid dividends last night. Great win for the 76ers, and it showed how much deeper Philadelphia is than a year ago. 

What’s next:

Philadelphia concludes their four-game homestand on Wednesday against the new-look Chicago Bulls.

Best of the Rest:

Furkan Korkmaz added 15 points and five assists in place of Harris, and Shake Milton scored 10 points off the bench.

Norman Powell led the Blazers with 22 points, and C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard added 20 points apiece; Lillard also had 10 assists and seven rebounds.

 

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76ers’ Embiid on Simmons: ‘At this point, I don’t care about that man’

When Ben Simmons returned to the 76ers last week after refusing to report to training camp due to him wanting to be traded, the thought was he was ready to show up and possibly play for Philadelphia until they could trade him.

However, as we’ve seen the past two days, it’s clear Simmons does not want to be a part of the 76ers. Yesterday, at practice, Simmons barely took part in the team huddle. Today, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, 76ers head coach Doc Rivers asked Simmons to join a defensive drill today. Simmons refused. Rivers asked again. Simmons said no again. Rivers then told Simmons he should go home, and Simmons dropped the ball and left.

Because of Simmons’ actions, the 76ers suspended him for one game due to conduct detrimental to the team. As a result, the three-time All-Star will miss the 76ers’ season opener in New Orleans against the Pelicans on Wednesday night. 

After practice, Rivers explained why he threw Simmons out of practice.

“I just thought he was a distraction today,” Rivers said. “I didn’t think he wanted to do what everybody else was doing. It was early. It wasn’t a big deal. I just told him he should leave. We went on with practice.”

Joel Embiid appears fed up with the situation.

“At this point, I don’t care about that man,” Embiid said about Simmons. “He does whatever he wants.”

However, Rivers seems willing to give Simmons another chance.

“Every day, every single moment, I’m going to give Ben a chance to join the team and be part of the team,” Rivers said. “He’s under contract to be part of the team, and that’s not going to change.”

Simmons has four years, $147 million left on his contract. 

The 76ers will wait to find the best possible deal, so Simmons could be traded now or even later, but based on today’s actions, it would be a surprise if Simmons played another game with the 76ers.

 

Rivers on Milton: ‘He gave us a huge lift’

The Philadelphia 76ers got another big performance from Joel Embiid on Wednesday night. After scoring a then playoff career-high 39 points in Game 1, Embiid came back and set a new playoff career-high with 40 points and 13 rebounds in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference second-round matchup against the Atlanta Hawks. 

However, the 76ers needed an unlikely hero to defeat Atlanta on Wednesday night.

With Philadelphia trailing 80-79 late in the third quarter, 76ers head coach Doc Rivers inserted Shake Milton, who has struggled during the playoffs. Milton proceeded to score six points in the third, including a 35-foot buzzer-beater to end the quarter, and scored eight more points in the fourth to finish with 14 points as the 76ers defeated Atlanta 118-102 at Wells Fargo Center to even the series at 1.

In 15 minutes of action, Milton was 5/8 from the field, including four threes.

Milton appeared to be out of the rotation, and before his explosion on Wednesday night, the third-year guard averaged 2.8 points per game while shooting 21% from the field in the playoffs. Despite his struggles, Rivers was impressed by Milton’s preparation. 

“He prepared himself, and he believed that he would get another shot, and he got it,” Rivers said about Milton. “He gave us a huge lift. Very happy for him, personally.”

Tobias Harris, who scored 22 points in Game 2, was also happy for Milton.

“I’m extremely happy for him,” he said. “Happy and proud at the same time… For him, he’s been in and out of the rotation a bit in the playoffs, struggling a bit at times. But, he’s steadily in the gym, waiting for that moment, that opportunity. Here it came, and he took advantage of it”

In the first half, the Hawks’ bench outscored Philly’s bench 32-0, but the second half was a much different story for the 76ers, who had 26 bench points in the second half, which was a big reason Philadelphia was able to push the lead to as many as 21 points in the fourth.

Game 3 is Friday night in Atlanta.

In Game 1, Trae Young, guarded mainly by Danny Green, was tough to stop for Philadelphia as he scored 35 points and dished out 10 assists. However, in Game 2, the 76ers used the 6-11, Ben Simmons, to guard the 6-1 Young, and it worked. Young was just 6/16 from the field with 21 points and 11 assists. 

As they enter Game 3, it should be interesting to see what the Hawks will do to get Young going. It also should be interesting to see how both teams will respond as the scene shifts to State Farm Arena for Games 3 and 4.

Notes:

-Kevin Huerter and Danilo Gallinari gave the Hawks a big boost in the first half on Wednesday night. Both Gallinari and Huerter scored 15 points apiece in the first half. Gallinari finished the game with 21 points, and Huerter added 20.

-Seth Curry scored 21 points for the 76ers in Game 2, including 5/8 from three-point range. 

76ers’ Howard: ‘We have what it takes to win a championship’

After 33 games, the Philadelphia 76ers are 22-11 and are the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. Last season, after 33 games, Philadelphia was 23-10, so they were actually a game better in terms of wins and losses a year ago.

However, this season feels a little different for Philadelphia. Their All-Star center Joel Embiid appears to have a different mindset and is in better shape. Embiid is having an MVP-caliber season and is averaging 29.6 points(career-high), 11.2 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. After a slow start, All-Star Ben Simmons is playing elite on defense, and in the last five games, he’s averaging 23.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game. Because of his ability to guard all five positions, Simmons believes he is the best defender in basketball. 

After the team’s 111-97 victory over the Mavericks on Thursday night, reserve center Dwight Howard, who won a championship with the Lakers last season, shared his thoughts on Philly’s chances of winning a title. 

“We have everything we need, and we have what it takes to win a championship,” Howard said. “it’s going to be on us. It’s going to be on how hard we go out and play every night, what we do when we are not in the games, how we are taking care of our bodies, but also just how we approach every day. We stay in the moment, stay locked in on winning this championship day by day. We can’t wait until the end of the season to focus on a championship. We gotta do it every single day. Coach has been telling us, ‘The preparation process and parade.’ That’s the only thing on our mind.”

Simmons believes that Philadelphia has great chemistry right now, and the best he’s seen since he has been in Philly. Having Doc Rivers around helps, and the team is saying that he is holding everybody accountable. However, it appears they need some more bench help, and it should interesting to see what they do before the March 25th trade deadline.

At this point, Philly will be judged on what happens in the playoffs. We have seen Simmons come up small in playoff situations, and if this team wants to make a deep playoff run, he has to be better. Plus, getting by Brooklyn, who has three walking buckets in Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving, won’t be easy.

Philly is playing good basketball right now, but we still have to wait and see how this team looks come playoff time.

 

Ballmer on Rivers: ‘He won a heck of a lot of games and laid a foundation for this franchise’

In a shocking move, Doc Rivers has stepped down as coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, the team announced on Monday.

According to the team, owner Steve Ballmer and Doc Rivers reached a mutual decision that Rivers will step down as head coach of the L.A. Clippers. 

“Doc has been a terrific coach for the Clippers, an incredible ambassador, and a pillar of strength during tumultuous times,” Ballmer said via a team statement. “He won a heck of a lot of games and laid a foundation for this franchise.” 

The Clippers, who acquired Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last offseason, lost to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals after being up 3-1 in that season.

Rivers, 58, was the most successful head coach in Clippers history, compiling a record of 356-208 over seven seasons. Under his direction, the Clippers made the playoffs six times and reached the Western Conference semifinals in 2020, 2015, and 2014. Before arriving in Los Angeles in 2013, Rivers spent nine seasons with the Boston Celtics, winning a championship in 2008. 

According to Ballmer, the Clippers will begin the search to replace Rivers immediately.

“I am also extremely confident in our front office and our players,” Ballmer said. “We will find the right coach to lead us forward and help us reach our ultimate goals. We will begin the search and interview process immediately.” 

If he decides to coach next season, Rivers will be in demand. Currently, there are some excellent jobs that are open right now in the NBA, including Philadelphia, Houston, Indiana, and New Orleans, so Rivers could possibly find a good situation. Regarding the Clippers, you wonder what direction they will go in; Ty Lue, who led the Cavaliers to an NBA title in 2016, was Rivers’ lead assistant and could be one of the favorites for the job. Obviously, the Clippers have an attractive situation, and whoever gets the job will have an opportunity to win right away.