3-Dei: How the Sixers can beat the Knicks

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3-Dei: How the Sixers can beat the Knicks

The Sixers can beat the Knicks. After all, New York has been beaten on 26 occasions this season, most recently by 23 points on its home floor Monday to the Brooklyn Nets.

Here is how I see the Sixers-Knicks matchup tonight in 3-Dei:

1. The Sixers' defense needs to be present and accounted for in the game.

The Nets beat the Knicks with defense. They held New York to 80 points, 15 below its season average. They also held the Knicks to 34 percent shooting. On the season, New York shoots 43.3 percent.

The Sixers cannot come into this division matchup trying to outscore the Knicks. Yes, New York will let you put points on the board (opponents score 99.1 per game on the Knicks), but the Knicks have more scorers than the Sixers.

The Sixers are allowing opponents to score a league-high 109.9 points per game on 46.0 percent shooting (10th highest).

In a previous meeting with New York, the Knicks won 102-92 on 47.6 percent shooting. They made one more three-pointer than the Sixers (6-5) and three more free throws (18-15).

There were no great discrepancies. New York just had a little more that day. The Knicks were on a roll when the two last met, but are currently on a four-game skid.

If the Sixers bring defense, New York's skid will continue.

2. The matchup at the small forward position has to be equal -- not necessarily statistically, but in contributions to helping their respective teams.

Evan Turner versus Carmelo Anthony. Both players lead their team in scoring. Anthony is third in the league with 26.1 points per game, while Turner is tied for 25th at 18.1.

Anthony gets a significant nod when it comes to three-point shooting because his percentage is 39.5 while Turner's is 29.1.

In the previous meeting, Anthony outplayed his counterpart. Anthony did not have a great shooting night (8 of 21 for 18 points), but he did grab nine rebounds and hand out seven assists.

Meanwhile, Turner's line read 12 points, five rebounds, one assist and six turnovers. That game was not a shining moment for Turner, nor have the last three in which he has averaged just 9.7 points.

3. Take advantage of the Knicks being down two frontcourt players.

The last go-around, Amar'e Stoudemire discovered the fountain of youth, scoring 21 points in 22 minutes. And Kenyon Martin hurt the Sixers, making 4 of 5 field goal attempts for eight points to go with eight rebounds.

Both players sprained an ankle last Thursday and are sidelined for a couple weeks.

The Sixers will be without Tony Wroten, who also has a sprained ankle, but New York minus Stoudemire and Martin has to be taken advantage of by the Sixers' big men.

Sergio Rodriguez ready for 'opportunity' of 2nd NBA stint

Sergio Rodriguez ready for 'opportunity' of 2nd NBA stint

GALLOWAY, N.J. — It’s Round 2 for Sergio Rodriguez.

Ten years after beginning his first stint in the NBA, he is back as a veteran point guard on the Sixers. The green 20-year-old is now 30, with European and Olympic experience behind him. Rodriguez is looking to build upon his previous four NBA seasons, which culminated in 2010, in a leadership role in Philadelphia.

“It feels great,” Rodriguez said Thursday after the training camp morning session at Stockton University. “It’s a second opportunity for me.”

Rodriguez played three seasons for the Trail Blazers from 2009-10 and split his fourth year with the Kings and Knicks. He averaged a quiet 4.3 points, 2.9 assists and 1.3 rebounds in 13.2 minutes per game. Rodriguez returned to his native Spain and found a higher level of success, including winning the EuroLeague title with Real Madrid, being named EuroLeague MVP, and competing in the Olympics. Last season Rodriguez averaged 10.9 points (40.9 percent from three), 6.2 assists and 2.2 rebounds in 24 minutes for Real Madrid. 

Head coach Brett Brown considers Rodriguez one of the top point guards that had played in Europe. 

“He just has a real gift for understanding, especially offensive tempo,” Brown said. “I think that his ability to run a pick-and-roll and figure out how teams are playing it and where they’re rotating from about a pass sooner, one dribble sooner so he can pick off rotations. He’s very gifted in that environment. I think he’s got a bounce to his game and a pace to his game that he will be absorbed in how I want to play well.”

Both Brown and Rodriguez anticipate challenges on the defensive end as Rodriguez re-acclimates himself in the NBA. He will be tasked with guarding some of the league’s toughest point guards, and will also be involved in numerous pick-and-rolls each game. 

After years of playing in Spain, Rodriguez has to get to know a new group of players. He considers the responsibility of a point guard to be getting his entire team involved, particularly with all the youth on the SIxers.

“I will try to feel comfortable for my teammates. For a point guard, you need to have the confidence that everybody is happy playing with you,” Rodriguez said, also noting, “Always the point guard has to run the show. Especially for this team, we have so many young players that need to develop and need to know how to win.” 

So far that is working.

“Sergio’s great,” Nerlens Noel said. “He’s a real vocal leader, even with that little accent he’s got. He makes it work. I think as the season goes along, we’ll continue to get on the same page and really start to mesh a little better.” 

Rodriguez left the NBA as a young guard and is now ready to make a comeback with years of experience. 

"I’m very excited to have this upcoming season and to be successful for my team, my teammates, the organization," he said.

Brett Brown has 'completely different feeling' in training camp this year

Brett Brown has 'completely different feeling' in training camp this year

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Brett Brown left training camp last September with an unsettling feeling. He had just completed long days of scrimmages, drills and planning, and yet he sensed the Sixers were not ready to tackle the 82 games that lied ahead. 

“I remember driving back to Philadelphia last year knowing in my heart of heart that this group was going to be challenged,” Brown said Thursday following the morning practice session at Stockton University. “That was a frightening drive home. That drive home scared me because I felt like, I know what we have and how are we going to be able to maneuver through this?”

Brown was right. The Sixers lost their first 18 games and began the season 1-30. They stumbled the rest of the way, finishing the 2016-17 campaign with a dismal 10-72 record. 

“We really didn’t know who the point guard was,” Brown said. “We came in extremely injured, we were trying to make the Nerlens [Noel]-Jahlil [Okafor] thing work, there really weren’t a lot of veterans to look around [and see], and you knew it.”

Now in his fourth training camp as head coach, with 47 wins and 199 losses with the Sixers behind him, Brown has different emotions as the team nears the end of training camp on Friday. 

Instead of a constantly-changing lineup of players, the Sixers are building a roster that can serve as the foundation for the future. There are nine new players on the team, including first overall pick Ben Simmons and rookie Dario Saric. Joel Embiid will make his NBA debut after two years of injuries, and the Sixers added veteran leaders in free agency.

Brown has a clearer picture of what the team could look like this season and beyond. He is coaching training camp to enter a new chapter, not to simply make it through the upcoming months. 

“You can leave and you can sniff reality,” Brown said. “Now what I see is there’s depth. There are challenges positionally as we’ve talked about. But there’s talent. There’s point guards. They’re sprinkled in with some veterans. How we grow it and play it is still on the table. To me, it’s a completely different feeling that I have now that I did not have last year.”

The additions of Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez at the one spot lessen the coaching load for Brown. He also can turn to T.J. McConnell from last season. The depth is a far cry from when the Sixers were quickly changing at that position and didn’t find a consistent starter until they traded for Ish Smith in late December.

“That position, I think, is vital when you start putting a bunch of 20-year-olds around it and trying to find some type of organization,” Brown said. “You just can’t replace a point guard’s intellect. You can’t replace, I think, somebody that has great command from that position. It certainly helps me.”

Brown expects to feel “proud” when the Sixers wrap training camp on Friday. He is looking forward to getting the season underway, beginning with two practices at the new training complex in Camden before their first preseason game Oct. 4 against the Celtics. 

Brown anticipates his drive home this time will be a much different trip. 

“I feel comfortable that we’re ticking boxes and we’re achieving the goals that we set out from the start of what we wanted to get done in Stockton,” he said.

The Sixers continued to monitor load management on Thursday, as Okafor, Embiid and Gerald Henderson did not participate in the morning scrimmage. Bayless also did not go through the scrimmage because of a sore left wrist.