Embiid practices, a ‘setback' for Scott, more on Sixers


There were both positive and negative developments on the injury front coming from Tuesday’s Sixers practice. The good news pertained to the team’s All-Star center.

“Joel (Embiid) practiced, looked fine, looked good,” head coach Doc Rivers said. “As long as there’s no setbacks — that’s the problem with anything, the telltale sign is really how you feel the next day. Mike (Scott), I would say I’d categorize that as a setback. He was working out yesterday, got tangled up with someone and tweaked his knee again — not to where it was at. So that’s the only bad news so far.”

Embiid missed the Sixers’ comeback victory Sunday night over the Pacers because of back tightness, while right knee swelling has sidelined Scott for the past eight games. 

Meanwhile, Seth Curry has appeared in the Sixers’ last six contests but admitted he does not feel his best after testing positive for COVID-19 last month. 

“It’s been tough — little injuries here and there, banged up a little bit,” Curry said. “I think some remnants, also — just trying to get my energy all the way back. Some days I feel good, some days I’m just sluggish and feel like I’ve got to take a nap all day. It’s weird, but I’m grateful to be on the court every day and play."

As for Tuesday’s practice, the Sixers’ first since Jan. 19, Rivers had to trim down a long list of potential items on the agenda. There wasn’t much time spent with Ben Simmons at center, despite assistant coach Dave Joerger’s eagerness to sharpen the Sixers’ execution with that look. 

“It’s funny, we did very little of the small-ball five today,” Rivers said. “We just don’t have a lot of time. If you do the list — I have each coach write a list of all the things they would like to do — we would’ve been here for, like, 12 hours.

"As the head coach, you’ve just got to pick what’s important. And that, honestly, was at the bottom, even though it’s very important for us, because we’re going to need it. I just think right now we need other things to work on. We did a little bit of that, I will say that, but we didn’t do enough of it to make any difference.”

Rivers instead focused on deepening the Sixers’ understanding of the concepts and plays they’ve already established. Tony Bradley said he noticed on film that he “messed up a couple times” calling out defensive coverages in the Sixers’ win over Indiana, his first start of the season. That’s understandable, given Bradley’s limited playing time this year and the fact that Rivers’ system and preferred style of play is new for just about everyone besides Tobias Harris and Scott. 

The Eastern Conference’s reigning Coach of the Month saw Tuesday as an opportunity to further explain some of the finer details. 

“Execution, doing the little things,” he said. “I think we have a grasp of the plays, what they are, but we have no idea what we’re trying to get out of it yet, or what we’re doing out of it. We’re just running it. And today we grabbed a couple of offensive plays and we went piece by piece to show them the first option, second option, what you’re looking for … the timing.

"And then the same thing defensively — when to call ice, when to call drop, when to know the difference. So, that’s where we are right now. We know our defensive coverages, as well, we just don’t know when to call them. And communication is the whole key. You call it late, it’s too late. It was a good practice — a lot of good spirit today and did a lot of good things today.”

At 15-6, the Sixers sit first in the Eastern Conference, 2.5 games ahead of the second-place Bucks. On paper, their upcoming back-to-back Wednesday and Thursday against the 10-11 Hornets and 10-9 Trail Blazers is a chance to expand their edge at the top of the conference.

According to Rivers, though, the standings aren’t yet on his radar. 

“I can’t tell you our record,” he said. “I really can’t. I have no idea what our record is. … I’m just focused on us getting better. We have to get better, and that’s my thing today to our team. We’re not where we need to be, or where we want to be. If this is the best we are, it’s not good enough, and that’s what I tell our guys every night. 

“We’ve got to keep getting better, we’ve got to keep growing, we’ve got to keep adding stuff on both ends, offensively and defensively. As a staff, we have to figure out even better the rotations. So, we have a long way to go, which is great, because we’re winning and getting better. That’s what you want.”

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