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Know Your Enemy: 5 Questions With Liberty Ballers

We spoke with our sister site to get some more insight on tomorrow night’s opponent.

Portland Trail Blazers v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

In order to get a bit more insight on the current state of affairs of tomorrow night’s opponent, the Philadelphia 76ers, we spoke to Liberty Ballers associate editor David Early.

You can follow David on Twitter @DavidEarly.

Thank you David for participating in our Q&A.

1. The Sixers are 9-7 and just snapped a five-game losing streak. Is that record reflective of the team’s play so far?

Upon first read your question seems simple enough. Yet I keep turning my head to the side wondering from which baseline do I even answer it. Is it indicative of the play we expected without Ben Simmons in the lineup? Reflective of what how good they are without him? Reflective of how good they are without Joel Embiid, for the last six games, on top of playing without Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and Danny Green? On the one hand when they had at least Embiid they were better than I expected. The surprisingly good play of Tyrese Maxey has been the brightest part of the season so far. I guess given all they’ve had to deal with, 9-7 feels pretty good. Even if they’ve only won one of their last six outings. Too long don’t read? They’re pleasantly surprising and fun given some major hurdles.

2. Tyrese Maxey has been a bright spot for the team this season, especially with Simmons on the sidelines. What about Maxey has changed from Year 1 to Year 2 and how has he gotten better?

Tyrese looks a lot more comfortable attacking and shooting basically. Last season he was comfortable attacking the paint, but the explosive games were few and far between. He flashed but didn’t sustain. This year he has been weirdly dependable for a 21 year old. I had totally recalibrated my expectations for him when they were forced (with Simmons being out) to shift him to the point. As you know, 21 year olds learning to play point in the league for the first time tend to get slaughtered even when the position is natural for them. But he’s a combo guard. That he is where he is, shooting 43 percent from deep on 3.3 tries per game, with 4.4 dimes and just 1.3 turnovers averaging 17.8, he has us Sixers fans recalibrating what we “need” in a potential Ben Simmons trade. And that’s a big deal.

3. What is the current status of Ben Simmons and how likely do you think it is for the team to trade him?

I’d say the chances the team trades him at some point are extremely high. But what you’re probably getting at is what are the chances he’s traded before the deadline. And because of the reports we’ve read, because you can kind of sense Daryl Morey wants to see how certain situations shake out, there are more than a few scenarios where they feel it behooves them to wait until next summer. For example, James Harden, Bradley Beal, and Zach LaVine are all on very good teams. But they haven’t signed extensions. All it would take would be for one to decide he’d like to play with Embiid and then a sign-and-trade with Simmons comes into play. If you had hope that Dame might ask for a trade in July, and maybe one or two of Beal, Beard, and LaVine might want a change it would be difficult to hit the button on one of those pupu platter deals for Malik Beasley, Pat Beverley and picks suggestions we keep seeing wouldn’t it?

4. What is one thing you want Blazers fans to know about the Sixers that can’t be seen through box scores?

Furkan Korkmaz’s core muscle, unlike Dame’s, feels totally fine and would fill in fairly well for an aging Damian Lillard in a potential blockbuster.

5. What is your prediction for Saturday’s game?

Blazers by 7.