(Admittedly, that’s not my best pun work, but you make the best with what you have, right?)
Thursday night, the Philadelphia 76ers opened their post-All-Star break campaign against the Miami Heat at the Wells Fargo Center. There was no Joel Embiid. The team scored 106 points, even though the team shot just above 45 percent from the field. JJ Redick was a little frigid on the night (3-for-10 from 3-point range). The Sixers still beat the Heat, though.
How did they?
Apparently, the Sixers played a real-life Boban Marjanović 2k MyTeam card that wasn’t bronze or silver. (I’m definitely getting the emerald or sapphire Boban when it becomes available.) Marjanović scored 19 points on six made field goals and went 7-for-10 from the free throw line. Bobi didn’t do it alone. Ben Simmons added 21 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Bobi’s bestie, Tobias Harris, had 23 points and 11 rebounds.
The Sixers bench only provided 12 points in a theme that is very familiar. Even without their franchise center and MVP candidate and nothing from the subs, the Sixers had a lead as big as 11 points against Miami.
Today, the Portland Trail Blazers visit Wells Fargo for their only appearance this season in South Philadelphia.
Will it be “Dame Time”? We’ll see. Lilliard is coming off a terrible shooting performance against the Brooklyn Nets, scoring just 13 points and hitting only five of his 21 field goal attempts. Jusuf Nurkić led Portland with 27 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks against the Nets at the Barclays Center. CJ McCollum helped with 21 points, six rebounds, and five assists.
A familiar face will be on the Portland bench: Enes Kanter. Kanter was bought out by the New York Knicks right before the All-Star break, and the Trail Blazers picked him up off waivers. Against the Nets, Kanter had 18 points and nine rebounds in about 20 bench minutes. Evan Turner will also be on the Portland bench, but is poking fun at Turner really funny anymore?
How many times can we reference Turner’s Ferrari breaking down on I-95?
I guess we can reference this and laugh a few more times. We might as well. He’s in town, right? (If Turner goes off for a triple-double, I’ll except ALL blame, by the way.)
Head coach Brett Brown was told that the Trail Blazers were the number-one pick-and-roll team in the league, and it will be a challenge for bench players James Ennis and Jonathon Simmons when they get minutes.
Brett Brown mentioned his analysts told him Portland is the No. 1 pick-and-roll team in the league.— Noah Levick (@NoahLevick) February 22, 2019
He said he's looking forward to learning about Jonathon Simmons and James Ennis, seeing how they handle the challenge of C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard.
The Trail Blazers have won six of their last ten and are fourth in the Western Conference, so this will be another game testing the Sixers against the best in the West. Back in December, Portland defeated the Sixers 129-95 at the Moda Center. In that game, it was McCollum having the hot shooting night with 35 points on 18 shots. Like round one of this matchup, the Sixers will be without Embiid again. With Simmons, more time with Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, and our secret Serbian weapon, the Sixers should be better equipped this time around at home, where the team is 24-7 this year.
Wells Fargo will be poppin’ early, tomorrow. The Sixers play a top team in the NBA, and the Philadelphia Flyers welcome the Pittsburgh Penguins at 8pm. (I know that game’s at “The Linc”, but that place is Wells Fargo-adjacent, so I’m counting it.) Let’s get this Saturday started superbly.
Who: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Philadelphia 76ers
When: 1:00 pm EST
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic