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Feb 10, 2024 1:54 am

76ers take on Wizards, hope trades will bolster depth

buddy hield

The Philadelphia 76ers hope that new arrivals Buddy Hield and Cameron Payne can play key roles during a lengthy playoff run later this season.

For now, the two are just being asked to keep the injury-plagued Sixers afloat during a particularly rough stretch.

Philadelphia has lost four straight heading into a road matchup against the Washington Wizards on Saturday.

Hield and Payne were acquired at Thursday’s trade deadline and immediately inserted into the starting lineup on Friday, when the Sixers lost 127-121 to the visiting Atlanta Hawks.

Hield and Payne scored 20 points apiece for Philadelphia, which has dropped eight of its past nine games.

“It looked like (Hield and Payne) competed,” Sixers coach Nick Nurse said. “I liked their overall feel for the game and it looked like they understood the basketball IQ on the offensive end. Pretty good first night out, considering.”

Philadelphia’s injured list has continued to grow over the past week. Joel Embiid (knee), Tyrese Maxey (illness), Nicolas Batum (hamstring), De’Anthony Melton (back) and Robert Covington (knee) all sat out on Friday. Maxey is the only one of the group who might be available against the Wizards.

Sixers team president Daryl Morey remains optimistic that Embiid could return before the postseason. The seven-time All-Star had surgery on his left knee on Tuesday.

“We’re hopeful,” Morey said. “Feedback has been more good than bad since we first heard about what led to his procedure. So, we’re hopeful and we’re building the team to make it better this year. Obviously, it’s not at 100 percent. But with Joel playing at an MVP level, hopefully he could get back to that. And this is a year that we have a real shot.”

Philadelphia has won its past four meetings against Washington, which matched a franchise record by sinking 20 3-pointers in a 133-129 road loss to the Boston Celtics on Friday.

The Wizards dropped their fifth straight game despite encouraging performances from Deni Avdija (24 points and 11 rebounds) and Corey Kispert (24 points). Washington was outscored 36-16 in the decisive third quarter.

“We knew they were going to try to come out in the third quarter and get physical with us and affect us a little bit,” Wizards interim coach Brian Keefe said. “We battled back and that’s part of the growth for us, that resiliency. We end up winning three of the four quarters. Just a tough third.”

Kispert has averaged 20.8 points over the last five games for Washington, which is 3-22 at home this season.

The Wizards have shown signs of progress under Keefe, who has been pleased by the play of Tyus Jones. The veteran point guard is averaging 13 points and 7.8 assists over his past four games.

“I have tremendous trust in Tyus. He’s my coach on the floor,” Keefe said. “He reads the game, sees situations. I trust him to make the right plays. He’s been doing it for a long time. I have tremendous faith in him leading us on offense.”

Washington is monitoring the status of forward Marvin Bagley III, who missed the past four games due to a lower back contusion.

–Field Level Media

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