The Philadelphia 76ers are focused on how best to enter the postseason, which is why All-Star center Joel Embiid isn't playing on a three-game road trip that continues Monday night at Dallas.
The Sixers are essentially locked into the third spot in the Eastern Conference with six games to go, including Wednesday's game at Atlanta to end their trip.
On the first game of the trip, rookie Jonah Bolden stepped into the starting lineup for a resting Embiid and took advantage of the opportunity with 19 points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes as the Sixers won 118-109 at the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday.
Bolden figures to have another chance to impress in the next two games, giving coach Brett Brown a decision to make about who should back up Embiid in the postseason.
"When it comes down to playoff time, the rotation does shorten up," Bolden said on NBA.com. "The opportunity is now, whether the opportunity is now or in the playoffs, just making the most of it whenever it comes."
Before the game against Minnesota, Bolden had played a total of 20 minutes across the previous nine contests.
The 76ers acquired 7-foot-3 Boban Marjanovic from the Los Angeles Clippers as part of the trade that brought Tobias Harris to Philadelphia. Marjanovic is averaging 7.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 13.5 minutes in 16 games with the Sixers.
Bolden plays a different style than Marjanovic, with more athleticism and the ability to stretch the court; he hit 5 of 7 shots from 3-point range against Minnesota.
"Defensively, he's long," Sixers guard Ben Simmons said on NBA.com. "Offensively, he can shoot the ball. He knows how to play. He makes the right moves. He has a high IQ."
Dallas is coming off Sunday afternoon's 106-103 victory at Oklahoma City in which star rookie Luka Doncic sat because a right thigh contusion. Future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki, perhaps nearing the end of his career, grabbed 13 rebounds -- his most since having 13 on March 5, 2017, also against the Thunder.
"Our guys were fired up to play," said coach Rick Carlisle.
Trey Burke came off the bench to score 25 points with eight assists in 30 minutes. That was Burke's best scoring performance with Dallas, which acquired him before the trade deadline as part of the big deal with the New York Knicks.
"He has a great knack for when he gets into a game, he can heat it up quickly," Carlisle said. "That's an art. That's a skill. He's a unique player."
Doncic did not travel with the team to Oklahoma City, staying at home to rehab. His status for Monday night was unknown.
"We're going to be very prudent with this and make sure that he's a hundred percent before even thinking about him getting back out there," Carlisle told reporters Saturday.
Doncic, the third pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, is averaging 21.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.9 assists, having played in 70 of 76 games. He and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young are the leading candidates for NBA Rookie of the Year.
--Field Level Media
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