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.

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."