5 observations from Sixers-Cavaliers

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5 observations from Sixers-Cavaliers

BOX SCORE

The Sixers overcame a slow first quarter to roll past the Cleveland Cavaliers, 94-79, at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night to end a two-game losing skid (see Instant Replay).

The Cavs won’t have to wait long for a chance at revenge with both teams slated to play Saturday in Cleveland.

Here are a few developments that piqued our interest during Friday night’s game:

1. Thad down low
Right at the top of the game, the Sixers looked to get power forward Thad Young involved with the offense. On the first play of the game, Young was fed in the low post and hit a running jump hook. He got the ball again on the second possession in nearly the same spot, but missed the jump hook.

Coach Brett Brown may have sent in the plays for Young in attempt to get the veteran going. Young hasn’t been bashful about declaring his frustration with his play through the early part of the season, especially after the 3 for 11 shooting night against the Wizards on Wednesday.

Though he’s averaging 13 points, that’s somewhat skewed by the 29-point game against the Wizards last week. Take that game away and Young went into the game against the Cavs averaging just nine points.

After Thursday’s practice, Brown said he wanted to figure out a way to get more production from Young,

“I see him being one of the premier athletes at his position in the league where he can run, he can sneak behind defenses and he can go to the offensive boards,” Brown said. “I feel that in his sleep he could get eight to 12 points if he mastered that. And then I feel a burden, a responsibility to put him in those spots where he can create. I don't see that being his bread and butter, though. I don't think you want to give it to Thad and let him rocker step and shoot it. I do feel a responsibility, most definitely, to put him in some positions, but by and large I think his strength is the map I just said.

“I don't blame him for being frustrated, I get it. You'd love to be in a situation where this is your role, this is your path, this is your development package. He's such a good person and is extremely coachable and he wants to be a good teammate and please. He rolls with whatever coach comes in here and he's been that way with me. He's been fantastic. I feel a responsibility when you coach people like that to do everything I can to put him in a position where his skill package can prevail. At this stage it's not exclusively in those areas, the traditional isolation-type guys. He can score in a variety of ways and impact his games more from energy than static-situation basketball.”

Nevertheless, it appears as if Brown’s little plan worked. The Sixers called Young’s number to open the second half, too. However, Young was most valuable on the defensive end where he had a steal and a block on an attempted dunk by Dion Waiters that launch a fast break.

2. How do you … boo!
Former Sixer Andrew Bynum made his debut at the Wells Fargo Center since being traded by the Lakers, only it didn’t exactly go down the way the Sixers envisioned in August of 2012.

The Cavs’ big man, still battling knee pain, played 18 minutes, took three shots and grabbed five rebounds. No, his numbers didn’t have many pining for a way to get Bynum back, but there were glimpses of his old form.

Bynum was very active on the boards and showed a nice passing touch out of the low post. And even though he isn’t the fleetest afoot, Bynum’s presence in the paint was enough.

Bynum says he is “a shell" of himself, and he may be right. However, just seeing him on the floor is enough to wonder what might have been …

Well, maybe not for the boo birds. Maybe they found some catharsis with all the boos.

3. Going small
Tony Wroten was instant energy off the bench, dropping in a season-high 18 points on 7 for 14 shooting, including two three-pointers. The lefty guard also had four rebounds with four assists and a steal.

Brown had Wroten and point guard Michael Carter-Williams on the floor together down the stretch of Friday’s game, riding a combination that hasn’t run together too much this season. In the five games, Wroten and Carter-Williams average a little more than five minutes per game on the floor together.

4. Staying in the zone
Evan Turner led the Sixers with 22 points (10 for 18 shooting) and added 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. Better yet, Turner continued to take shots in his sweet spots.

Turner went 3 for 7 on shots longer than 15 feet in the win over the Cavs. That makes him 7 for 11 on shots closer than a foul shot. 

5. Allen gets some burn
Center Lavoy Allen played a season-high 21 minutes Friday night. With Daniel Orton out and Bynum in town, the Sixers needed a big man.

Dario Saric halts slump with 'best game as a 76er'

Dario Saric halts slump with 'best game as a 76er'

Dario Saric came into the NBA knowing his rookie season would be one of ups and downs. He would have successes based on his talent and struggle because of the newness of the league and matchups.

Saturday’s performance against the Celtics was one of those highlight nights. Saric scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, both tying career-highs, for his third double-double. He was efficient in his performance, playing 27 minutes off the bench in the Sixers' 107-106 loss.

“I thought that was his best game as a 76er,” Brett Brown said.

Saric had struggled the night before against the Magic. He barely made a dent in 16 minutes, posting just two points (1 for 5 from the field) without a single rebound. The poor showing was on his mind Saturday, as he got ready for the second game of the back-to-back. He went in early to get up extra shots, met with coaches, studied film and thought about the matchup throughout the day.

“I prepared a little bit more for this game,” Saric said. “After I have some bad rhythm of five or six, maybe, games. Now I concentrate more. I try to give my best, try to play my best, try to think before everything happens.”

Saric showed his aggressiveness in crunch time in the fourth quarter, when he scored seven points and five rebounds in eight minutes. He nailed a three to cut the Celtics' lead to 92-91 with 4:28 to play. Then with 1:09 remaining, Saric’s free throws cut the Celtics' lead to two points. On the other end of the court, he snagged the rebound off an Isaiah Thomas miss and scored a game-tying layup from Jahlil Okafor.  

“He played great,” Okafor said. “He’s working hard every day, getting used to the NBA process. It was good to see hard work paying off for him.”

Saric has been adjusting to new roles throughout the season. He was thrown into the starting power forward spot when Ben Simmons was injured, and then moved to the bench when the team acquired Ersan Ilyasova. On Saturday, Brown also played Saric at small forward in Robert Covington’s (knee) absence, a shift the Sixers may try again.

“He’s a good teammate,” Brown said. “He’s biding his time. He understands he’s a rookie. Incrementally, he’ll be given these opportunities. Tonight he did and he responded and you’re seeing continued growth.”

Saric still is early in his NBA career, and Saturday's showing was a game he can look back on and study for the rest of the season. 

“I feel like tonight … you’d walk away and say, ‘Shoot, that’s a hell of a player for playing 20 games in the NBA and he did what he just did against a hell of a team,’” Brown said. “I’m proud of what we saw all over the place from Dario.”

Sixers' '66-'67 team reflects on success of 'best team ever'

Sixers' '66-'67 team reflects on success of 'best team ever'

As part of their “Salute Saturday” series, the Sixers honored the 1966-67 championship team at halftime of their 107-106 loss the Celtics on Saturday.

Fifty years after winning the title, the success of the squad (which went 68-13 in the regular season) still resonates with those representing the Sixers today. After all, they are the group Wilt Chamberlain described as “the best team ever.” 

“It’s just part of the history of this city and the organization,” said Brett Brown, who has established a relationship with Billy Cunningham through practice visits and emails. “There was a toughness with that team that he personified and the city sort of reflects. It’s stuff you hear me talk about all the time how you want our team to reflect the spirit of the city. That team did it.”

Prior to their tribute ceremony, members of the team reflected on their run in which they beat the San Francisco Warriors for the title. 

On Wilt Chamberlain
“Wilt was such a dominant figure, not only as a basketball player, but he’s almost bigger than the game,” Matt Goukas said. “He played so well, he was such a good team player – he started really passing the ball right around that time --and that enabled great scorers like Hal (Greer) and Billy and Chet Walker to do their thing, and Wilt was very happy to give them that leeway.”.

On fond memories
“It was a team that we played well together and we lived as a family and that’s what made it so good for us," Greer said. "A lot of fun, a lot of fun. We missed the next year, but 68-13 is not bad at all.”

“It’s hard to forget a situation like that where we had such a terrific team and the season went so quickly, we won so many games and then of course winning a championship,” Goukas said. “As a first year player I said, ‘This is the way it’s supposed to be, I guess.’ But of course I never won another championship as a player, but we had such a terrific group of guys and true professionals that for me as a rookie, Billy Melchionni as a rookie, we really benefited from guys like Hal Greer, Wally Jones and Harry Costello, they really showed us the way.”

On team chemistry
“It was very difficult times when you look at the sixties from a social aspect,” Cunningham said. “Martin Luther King was killed the following year we won the championship. Race relationships weren’t the best. And this time, which was just about half black-half white, I’m not even sure, it was never an issue. That’s the beauty I think of being on a team you know getting to know people, you judge them as an individual and nothing more than that.”

“I think it was our coach Alex Hannum, for one (that kept the team together),” Greer said. “And of course the big guy. He held us together most of the time, he could rebound, play defense, do it all.”