Brian Windhorst and the Sportzshala insider team dig into life and news in the NBA world and beyond.

When Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers himself limped onto the court on Saturday night to check on another injured star, his face showed a matching mixture of disgust and annoyance as he waved his arms in desperation.

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Joel Embiid was rolling under the basket and squealing while holding on to his left leg, which was pinched by 76ers teammate Georges Niang in an accidental incident. Another painful moment in a terrible month.

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It was supposed to be a no-drama season for the Sixers, with a bounce back. When Ben Simmons and the Brooklyn Nets arrived for their round-robin game on Tuesday (7:30 pm ET, TNT), the Sixers were supposed to play.

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This does not apply to the 8-8 team.

Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxi have suffered varying degrees of foot injuries, and Harden and Maxi have kept them out of the field for weeks. Tobias Harris and Furkan Korkmaz were also recently injured.

Harden, who started off impressively, spent the early days of the season explaining that his improved game was the result of his health. Now he has a sprained tendon in his foot that needs to recover from and maybe deal with for a while.

Maxi, who has thrived without Harden, has a small fracture that he and the 76ers will have to deal with.

Embiid has a sprain, but the words “Embiid” and “foot injury” cause stomach discomfort, even though it was his right leg that needed a bone graft and multiple surgeries early in his career.

It’s good Only November. A year ago this week, the Boston Celtics were just 8-8 like the Sixers are now, and they showed they have time to turn things around.

But it’s not just about injuries. The 76ers have been buffed this season due to their revamped roster, including Harden agreeing to a $14 million pay cut (a move that was so unexpected that it sparked an NBA investigation into fraud) so the team could sign free agents PJ Tucker and Danuel House Jr.

Tucker was not the three-point threat the team had hoped for; he averages 4.3 points, although he shoots a good 44%. House didn’t score either, averaging just 4.8 points off the bench.

The 66ers are likely to take more losses while their players recover, and in turn, anxiety could rise. Some were already in Philadelphia, and Rivers was a popular target. By the end of October, several bookmakers had made him the favorite to be the first coach to be sacked before Harden’s injury seemed to ease the pressure for immediate results.

Embiid was great when he was there. After winning the scoring title last season, he increased his scoring average to 32 per game while shooting at a career-best 52%.

And the 66ers defense is arguably their best hope of staying afloat in the Eastern Conference. After a slight slump following the Harden trade last season, the 76ers defense started the week with the league’s fourth-best line. That speaks well for the change, which also included a trade for De’Anthony Melton.

All this suggests that the 66ers could get worse before they get better.


The Chicago Bulls are hoping things will go better with Zach LaVine, according to our NBA reporter. Jamal Collier Details:

Chicago Blues: Bulls franchise player lost but not eliminated

When Zach LaVine became a free agent last summer and needed a second knee operation, there was some uncertainty as to whether the Bulls were really ready to go all-in at the two-time All-Star Game. After all, the organization never even gave the player a $100 million contract.

Apparently there was no cause for concern at the time, as the Bulls signed LaVine for five years and a maximum $215 million contract extension.

And just a month into the deal, LaVine’s knee was an issue, as was his relationship with trainer Billy Donovan, apparently.

“I’m trying to go all the way back,” LaVine said. “It’s frustrating that I can get to the rim and then miss the rabbits. I’ve hit it many times and sometimes I just miss point-blank shots.”

LaVine’s stats show he was out of his mind. He’s averaging 20.7 points, his lowest since he was traded to the Bulls in 2017, and his shot count has declined. He admitted that his lifting power, which was his defining feature at the beginning of his eight-year career, was not what he thought. That explains why he started the week throwing just 49% of shots and dunks, compared to his career best of 64% last season, according to Second Spectrum.

The Bulls pulled off a much-needed victory over the Celtics on Monday night, snapping Chicago’s four-game losing streak and the Celtics’ nine-game winning streak. In the last game before the six-game trip, LaVine scored 22 points on five 3-pointers.

It eased the tension for a while after Donovan sent him to the bench last week after a 108-107 loss to the Orlando Magic.

LaVine admitted he didn’t play well, scoring four points and 1-for-14 that evening, but said he felt he deserved to play a bad game.

“Everyone has bad nights at least once in their careers. That’s what happened to me,” LaVine said on Sunday. “Do I think I could have played better? Of course. I also have the mentality that if I could get on the pitch, I think I could help the team win.”

“If I went 1 out of 20, that would suit me. I just wish I had the opportunity to go out there and try to make a couple more shots.”

On Monday against Boston, he was 8-of-20.


Here is the NBA reporter Tim McMahon on Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. Big Goal:

Porter Jr. took on the “dirty work”

Michael Porter Jr., who was paid in the first place for his brilliant shot, believes that 50% of the clip from three-point distance is quite within his power.

“At high volume,” Porter added, making it clear that he would never miss the shots he has to throw as part of the Denver Nuggets offense to try and defend his percentage, which is currently 43.8% from long range. after he pulled the go-ahead in the final minute of Sunday’s 98–97 road win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Of course, Porter’s willingness to let things take their course was never a concern. He has always been concerned about his health, especially his back, which was surgically repaired three times and which caused him to miss almost all of last season, and his willingness to do the dirty work required of an additional player on the field. applicant.

This is what will ultimately determine whether his five-year, $179 million contract extension, which was signed prior to his last operation, is a good investment for the Nuggets.

“The attack has to be on autopilot for me,” Porter said. “I have to focus on the intangibles, the defense, the rebounds, the dirty work. Then it just gets you into the game. why is he there now?

Despite his maximum contract, Porter does not guarantee that he will be next to the Nuggets. Coach Michael Malone, for example, decided to go with defenseman Bruce Brown instead of Porter after a close win over the San Antonio Spurs on November 7.

Porter, who scored 24 points and six rebounds that night, might have sulked. He did the opposite, enthusiastically cheering his teammates off the bench and saying that he was “not going to be selfish” after the game.

It was a testament to Porter’s maturation, proof that his promise to put his ego aside for the benefit of the team wasn’t just empty talk.

Porter earned Malone’s praise for his efforts in figuring out how to fit into a team led by two-time MVP big man Nikola Jokic. Malone said that Porter “may not be Scottie Pippen” as a quarterback, but praised him for consistently playing hard and paying attention to detail on this end of the floor this season, which is progress for a player with a reputation for being one-dimensional.

“I’ve seen a few examples of all of this this year, which I think shows commitment, commitment and growth,” Malone said. “In attack, he is a young player who has had the ball in his hands for years. He was a real guy. He is not the best in our team. .

“Michael is really starting to understand the importance of moving without him, passing and hooking, the right distance.”


Here comes the NBA reporter Andrew Lopez about the Bol Bol Orlando phenomenon:

Healthy Bol Bol brings magic to Orlando

Remember when Bol Bol was the next big thing? Prior to 7’4″ NBA prospect Victor Wembanyama, Bol was supposed to be a 7’+ player’s unicorn who could handle the ball, shoot it from anywhere, and still defend at a high level.

But when he announced the 2019 draft, he fell to the 44th overall pick due in part to injuries that cost him everything but nine college games. A draft night deal sent him to Denver, who signed him to a two-way contract.

In three seasons with the Nuggets, Bol played 328 minutes in 53 games. Things were already not going according to plan, and then January of last year came.

The Nuggets agreed to trade Bol to Detroit, but he failed the Pistons’ physical due to a foot injury that deterred the teams from choosing him. The Pistons doctors were right, he needed surgery days after the deal was cancelled.

He was then traded twice more within a few days, his contract changed due to moving from Denver to Boston to Orlando due to accounting and luxury tax. But his season is over. Last summer, the resurgent Magic, still intrigued by his talent, signed him to a two-year, $4.4 million contract with only half that amount guaranteed.

Bol recovered from surgery and several injuries opened up consistent minutes for the first time in his professional career and he made the most of it.

Bol has played in all 18 games for the Magic this season and has started the last 13. He is averaging 13.1 points, 8.2…