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.

Give and Go: Predicting Sixers' opening night roster

Give and Go: Predicting Sixers' opening night roster

Each week, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go are CSNPhilly.com Sixers insider Jessica Camerato, CSNPhilly.com producer/reporter Matt Haughton, and CSNPhilly.com producer/reporter Paul Hudrick.

This week, we'll take a stab at the Sixers' opening night roster.

Camerato
The Sixers' roster is overloaded as it stands in late August. Decisions and moves will have to be made by opening night to narrow down and balance out the roster. Let’s break down the potential opening night outlook (15 players, active and inactive) as the team is today. Of course, the roster could look completely different if the Sixers were to make a trade to clear up their logjam of bigs in the frontcourt. 

There are toss-up scenarios with overlaps. First off, Richaun Holmes and Carl Landry, the second-year player and the veteran. They fill similar needs and often were alternated on the court. Landry’s experience gives him the edge on the active roster with Holmes beginning on the inactive list. 

What was once a position of need is now one of abundance. The Sixers signed two true point guards this offseason in Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez. Ben Simmons plays point-forward and will assume floor general responsibilities during the season. Even if he is not slotted into the one-spot specifically, Simmons often will be running the court. This could leave T.J. McConnell as the odd man out. The undrafted McConnell was the underdog story of last season. He earned his minutes by grinding it out on each possession and garnered high praise from Brown, who frequently referred to him as a “marine.” The Sixers' needs are different this season at the point guard position, though, with backcourt versatility highly valued. During summer league, Brown said, “We’ve got Sergio and T.J. as who you’d stamp off on and say that’s a true point guard.” Out of the two, Rodriguez has the edge over McConnell. 

Point guard Kendall Marshall’s contract is non-guaranteed for next season ($2.04 million). Given his lack of playing time last season and the additions at his position, it seems unlikely he will be back with the Sixers. 

Shawn Long, Brandon Paul and James Webb III participated in the Sixers' summer league and signed non-guaranteed deals. They are fits for the Sixers' NBA Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers.

Active
Jerryd Bayless, PG/SG
Robert Covington, G/F
Joel Embiid, F/C
Jerami Grant, F
Gerald Henderson, G/F
Carl Landry, PF
Nerlens Noel, F/C
Jahlil Okafor, F/C
Sergio Rodriguez, PG
Dario Saric, F
Ben Simmons, F
Nik Stauskas, SG

Inactive
Hollis Thompson, SG
Richaun Holmes, F/C
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, G/F

 

Haughton
For the first time during his tenure as Sixers head coach, Brown will make roster decisions primarily based on ability instead of injuries, reaching the salary cap floor, etc.

With that being said, there should be only a couple tough decisions to make regarding the final 15 that make the team.

Point guard slots will go to Bayless, Rodriguez and McConnell. Marshall's status remains up in the air. However, the Sixers signed Bayless and Rodriguez as free agents for a reason and McConnell has again proven worthy of a spot.

The wing is where things start to get a little interesting. Covington and Grant are locks at small forward, but there will be five shooting guards in camp battling it out. Henderson certainly gets a nod after the Sixers went after him in free agency. I also believe that Stauskas will get another season to prove his worth. That leaves Thompson, Luwawu-Cabarrot and Paul. I believe Thompson, with his ability as a spot-up shooter on a team stacked with big men, will get an opportunity to stay for the final year of his contract. First-round pick Luwawu-Cabarrot will also get a spot and spend the season developing in the D-League, while Paul will be shown the door.

The Sixers know they have a loaded frontcourt, but that also means they understand not everyone can stick around. No. 1 overall pick Simmons, Saric, Noel, Okafor and Embiid are no-brainers for the final roster. The final spot all comes down to how the Sixers feel about their leadership. If they think new veterans Bayless, Henderson and Rodriguez can handle the job, then Holmes gets to stick around. If not, then Landry will return to give the young bigs a seasoned vet to lean on. In the end, Landry should get the call. Holmes is a nice find as a second-rounder, but with the potential star power on the Sixers' frontline, he would just be wasting away on the bench with no real potential of significant playing time.

Active
Jerryd Bayless, PG/SG
Robert Covington, G/F
Joel Embiid, F/C
Jerami Grant, F
Gerald Henderson, G/F
T.J. McConnell, PG
Nerlens Noel, F/C
Jahlil Okafor, F/C
Sergio Rodriguez, PG
Dario Saric, F
Ben Simmons, F
Nik Stauskas, SG

Inactive
Hollis Thompson, SG 
Carl Landry, PF 
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, G/F

 

Hudrick
If Stauskas can ever figure out how to make his shot fall consistently in NBA games, he'd be an excellent fit on this team. That's the skill that can separate him from the other guards on the roster. If he can't, then his minutes will slip. The Sixers have legitimate NBA players in their frontcourt with the free-agent additions of Bayless, Henderson and Rodriguez. Stauskas will have to perform or take a seat.

I don't think Thompson makes the club this year. Thompson can shoot the basketball, a skill this team certainly lacks. But Thompson often looks lost on defense and isn't a great ball handler. Not that Stauskas will be making any All-Defensive teams any time soon, but Stauskas' contract is guaranteed for $3 million. Thompson's is just a shade over $1 million. Brown may like Thompson, but he also likes Stauskas, at one point comparing him to Manu Ginobli (he said it, not me). Thompson is the odd man out.

Holmes misses out simply because of the numbers. He'll get a ton of minutes with the 87ers down in the D-League. Sure, Holmes is another big man, but I'd hold on to him. If the Sixers move a big (or two) having a player like Holmes in the system could come in handy. I also like his ability to play in an uptempo style, running the floor and hitting the occasional jumper.

I can't see a scenario where the Sixers don't keep McConnell in some capacity. Bryan Colangeo has said he'll utilize the D-League more than the team has in years past. Think of it like baseball: McConnell is a depth point guard in the "minors," ready to join the big club in case of injury while still getting valuable playing time in Delaware.

For the record, I'm saddened that I can't add Luwawu-Cabarrot to the active roster, but we have to be realistic. I thought he showed chemistry with Simmons in summer league action, moving well without the ball and hitting the occasional spot-up three, but he needs the minutes in the D-League.

Active
Jerryd Bayless, PG/SG
Robert Covington, G/F
Joel Embiid, PF/C
Jerami Grant, F
Gerald Henderson, G/F
Carl Landry, PF
Nerlens Noel, PF/C
Jahlil Okafor, PF/C
Sergio Rodriguez, PG
Dario Saric, F
Ben Simmons, F
Nik Stauskas, SG

Inactive
T.J. McConnell, PG
Richaun Holmes, PF/C
Timothe Luwawu-Cabbarot, G/F (begrudgingly)

NBA Notes: Kobe Bryant starts $100 million investment fund

NBA Notes: Kobe Bryant starts $100 million investment fund

NEW YORK -- Retired NBA star Kobe Bryant is moving to Wall Street, announcing the formation of a $100 million venture capital fund to invest in media, technology and data companies.

The fund, known as Bryant Stibel, is being co-managed by investor Jeff Stibel. The two met through mutual friends, Stibel said.

Bryant Stibel has already made investments in 15 companies, including LegalZoom and home juicing company Juicero, according to their website. The firm was founded in 2013, but is going public now with the retirement of Bryant from the Lakers.

Stibel said the firm is focused on companies at all stages of growth.

"We are actively looking for great entrepreneurs, but we are in no hurry to deploy capital," he said.

Bryant earned roughly $680 million in salary and endorsements during his 18-year NBA career, according to Forbes, and has been in the process of transition from professional athlete to businessman. Bryant created a company in 2014 called Kobe Inc. to help handle his image.

Timberwolves: Rubio ready to mentor Dunn
RIO DE JANEIRO -- When Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden were hired to take over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the expectation within in the organization and around the NBA was that they were coming in to make significant changes to a franchise with the longest-running playoff drought in the league.

Ricky Rubio heard his name floated in the constant trade rumor mill, never more than after the Wolves selected Providence's Kris Dunn, another point guard, with the fifth overall pick in the June draft.

Rubio remained quiet throughout the summer, putting all of his focus into grieving the loss of his mother and then joining his national team to prepare for the Olympics. Now that the Rio Games have concluded and Rubio has earned a bronze medal with Spain, he said he is looking forward to returning to Minnesota to work with Dunn and reiterated his desire to remain with the Timberwolves and help turn them into a winner.

"Really it's a challenge. When a young guy like him who has a lot of potential comes, I think we can really play together," Rubio told The Associated Press. "But if we don't (share the floor often), I can really help him" (see full story).

Bucks: Team signs veteran guard Jason Terry
MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Bucks have signed free agent guard Jason Terry.

The team announced the signing Monday. Terms were not disclosed.

Bucks general manager John Hammond calls the 38-year-old Terry "a true professional who understands what it takes to be successful" in the NBA.

The 17-year NBA veteran spent the last two seasons with Houston. Terry played in 72 games, including seven starts, with the Rockets last season, averaging 5.9 points, 1.4 assists and 1.1 rebounds in 17.5 minutes per game.

The 6-foot-2 guard was selected by Atlanta with the 10th overall pick in the 1999 draft and spent the first five seasons of his career with the Hawks.

Terry then played eight seasons with Dallas, including the Mavericks' 2011 NBA Championship team. He also has played for Boston and Brooklyn.

USA: Transition time for U.S. national team
RIO DE JANEIRO -- Mike Krzyzewski is heading out, Gregg Popovich is coming in and maybe LeBron James would even come back.

It's a time of transition for both the U.S. Olympic team and international basketball and it starts, as usual, with the Americans on top.

The U.S. won its third straight gold medal Sunday, beating Serbia 96-66 in the final game for Krzyzewski, who led the program for a decade and became the first coach to win three Olympic gold medals. He also guided the Americans to a pair of world championships, an 88-1 record and from the bottom back to the top.

"It's been a joy," Krzyzewski said. "I've been so lucky to have been given this opportunity."

Now it goes to Popovich, the other coach Jerry Colangelo considered before choosing Krzyzewski after taking control of USA Basketball in 2005. Like Krzyzewski, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, Popovich is a military man who attended the Air Force Academy and has built one of sports' most successful organizations while winning five championships with the San Antonio Spurs.

Krzyzewski has used the military as an inspiration for USA Basketball, referring to playing for the team as service and sacrifice, and Popovich should be an ideal choice to continue that relationship.

"You have the best guy in the world who's going to coach the team now and that says a lot for the program that's been developed," Krzyzewski said (see full story).

Sixers' Sergio Rodriguez nails late free throws to give Spain Olympic bronze

Sixers' Sergio Rodriguez nails late free throws to give Spain Olympic bronze

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Not golden, not the Olympic medal it still covets, but Spain got something.

Australia would take anything.

Pau Gasol scored 31 points in perhaps his final Olympic game and Spain added a bronze to its collection on Sunday with an 89-88 win over Australia, again denied its first medal inside the rings.

Sergio Rodriguez made two free throws with 5.4 seconds left and the Spaniards, who captured silver in 2008 at Beijing and the London Games, got the defensive stop they needed as Australia fumbled the ball away on its last possession.

Gasol, who will spend next season in San Antonio and hasn't committed to playing at Tokyo in 2020, and his teammates celebrated by piling on top of each other near center court. This wasn't the medal they wanted, but after losing their first two games in Brazil, it beats nothing.

"Unbelievable," said Rudy Fernandez. "It's an amazing feeling. We played very bad at first in the tournament, but we just continued to play hard and with a medal, it's unbelievable."

For the Aussies, it's more Olympic heartbreak. Several Australian players broke down crying after the country's fourth fourth-place finish, and this one was particularly cruel.

Patty Mills scored 30 and David Andersen 15 for the Aussies, who played almost the entire second half without Andrew Bogut. The 7-footer fouled out less than two minutes into the third quarter and spent the second half watching and worrying.

"There's no real positive you can take from this," Mills said. "For other people, yeah, the top four is great. We're disappointed not being able to make history for our country."

Australia's Aron Baynes dropped a hook shot in the lane -- the ball rattling around before dropping -- to give the Aussies an 88-87 lead with 9.7 seconds left.

Following a timeout, Rodriguez drove the right side and flipped up a layup as he stumbled near the basket. The shot missed, but Mills was called for a block despite little contact. A two-time Olympian, Rodriguez, who recently signed with the Philadelphia 76ers, dropped both free throws to make it 89-88.

The Aussies inbounded the ball and tried to run a screen for Mills, their captain who had brought them closer together with a trip to his Aboriginal homeland last summer, couldn't get free and the ball was knocked away from Andersen.

When it rolled into the backcourt and the clock expired, the Spaniards, who were unable to beat the U.S. in three straight Olympics, stormed the court.

The Aussies simply lowered their heads. Another close call. Another disappointment.

As upset as he was at losing, Bogut was equally angry about the officiating.

"They fall over and get fouls and go to the free throw line the whole game," he said. "It's unbelievable. You just dive into guys recklessly and get calls like that. It's tough to play like that."

With an internationally experienced roster featuring five NBA players, four of whom won league titles, Australia came to Brazil with a team capable of finally ending their country's Olympic medal drought.

With Bogut back from a knee injury sustained in the NBA Finals, they were arguably the sharpest team in the preliminary round, sending a tremor through the tournament by staying within 10 points of a U.S. team that appeared to have some cracks.

But with a chance to secure their first medal, the Aussies flopped in the semifinals against Serbia. They couldn't make a shot and lost by 26.

They went back and forth with Spain for four quarters, but will leave Rio empty-handed.

For the 36-year-old Gasol, this bronze is almost as good as gold.

He played in these games without his brother, Marc, who is still recovering from a foot injury. And although he wants to continue with the national team, Gasol said he'll go year to year.

No one has meant more to Spain's program and it was clear from the start he wanted any medal.

In the first half, he dived headfirst to save a ball going out of bounds, and his teammates erupted at seeing his sacrifice. He battled Andersen inside, the two players exchanging shoves and dirty looks as each team tried but couldn't shake free from the other.

"He's amazing," Rubio said. "There's no words to describe the way he dominates FIBA basketball. He's one of the best ever. That's why he put Spain on the map. We have great players around him, but he's the key of this generation."

The one with another medal.