PHILADELPHIA — When a player is added to the injury list as questionable the day of a game, it is usually an ominous sign for the player's availability.
Karl-Anthony Towns earned a questionable designation because of a right index finger sprain and coach Chris Finch said the Wolves would see how Towns felt before the game before seeing whether he would play.
Towns ended up giving it a go Saturday as he squared off against Joel Embiid, who memorably scrapped with Towns in a game two seasons ago. Towns finished with 28 points before fouling out in the Wolves 121-120 win in double overtime.
Finch said he found out about Towns' injury Saturday afternoon but noted that wasn't the only thing bothering Towns.
"There was some other bumps and bruises that he had [Friday] night coming out of the game too," Finch said.
There was uncertainty before the game surrounding the status of some of the 76ers' key players, including Embiid (COVID protocols) and Tobias Harris (hip). Harris had missed the past two games and Embiid the last nine games. Both were available Saturday and started. Embiid finished with a game-high 42 points, while Harris added 17 points.
No Simmons in sight
The 76ers have trudged on in the beginning of the season amid the drama involving Ben Simmons, who wants a trade from the organization. Simmons has yet to play in a regular-season game and is currently away from the team after reportedly telling the 76ers he wasn't mentally ready to play.
Prior to that, he had returned briefly to the team, only to earn a suspension for not being engaged in a practice. The team has also fined him.
There haven't been recent reports of any serious talks between the 76ers and other teams who might be interested. That includes the Wolves, whose president, Sachin Gupta, used to work for the 76ers and their President Daryl Morey in Houston.
Gupta's previous relationships there could be a benefit in any trade talks, though the consensus around the league is the Wolves would need a third team to get involved because they wouldn't have the kind of assets Philadelphia requires to maintain its championship window alongside Embiid.
One date to watch for when talks around the league could ramp up is Dec. 15. That's when most of the NBA's players become trade eligible. Most players who signed new contracts the offseason can be traded beginning on that date. It could help make a trade easier to facilitate for Philadelphia.
Regression to the mean
The Wolves entered Friday's game with the NBA's top three-point defense with opponents shooting 30.1%.
The Wolves saw some statistical regression to the mean in their three-point defense in their 133-115 loss to the Hornets as Charlotte hit 23 of 40 threes, raising that percentage to 31.7% and dropping them to second overall.
Three-point defense is a statistic that doesn't automatically mean a team is playing lights out defense. There's an element of luck baked into a stat like that — teams just miss shots against the Wolves.
The NBA's website has tracking data that can determine how far away a player is from a defender when he shoots, and using that data, the league determined the Wolves were allowing the eighth most "wide open" three-point attempts at 18.6 per game. Teams were hitting those wide-open threes at a rate of 33.4%, which ranked third-lowest of any team's opponents in the league. The Hornets hit 18 of 25 wide-open threes, raising the Wolves' percentage in that category to 36.1% for the season.