5 observations from Sixers-Warriors

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5 observations from Sixers-Warriors

The Sixers’ improbable 3-0 run to open the season came to a crash landing on Monday night with a 110-90 loss to the Golden State Warriors (see Instant Replay).

Though the teams have similar styles on offense, the Warriors had too much talent. Stephen Curry posted the second triple-double of the NBA season, going for 18 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. He also had five steals and helped the Warriors force the Sixers into 24 turnovers.

Meanwhile, ex-Sixer Andre Iguodala scored a game-high 32 points on seven three-pointers in his second game at the Wells Fargo Center since being traded two years ago.

Here’s a look at a few other interesting developments from Monday’s game:

MCW vs. Curry
Fresh off being named Eastern Conference Player of the Week (see story), Michael Carter-Willams faced his toughest matchup on Monday night against Curry. That mostly has to do with Curry’s defensive ability and quickness as opposed to his long-distance shooting.

And since the Sixers allowed Iguodala to shoot the three-pointer, Curry piled up the assists, dishing out 12 including nine in the first half. When Curry finally got his shot together, the points came in bunches. In the third quarter, Curry scored eight points in the first 75 seconds.

After getting the triple-double, Curry did not play a tick in the fourth quarter.

Carter-Williams had a rough-looking line: 4 for 17, including 1 for 7 from three-point range with four assists and six turnovers.

Welcome to the league, rookie.

Iguodala comes back
The Sixers’ defensive strategy was to pack it in the lane in order to keep Andrew Bogut, David Lee and Klay Thompson away from the offensive glass. For the most part the Sixers were able to do that.

However, in protecting the paint, the Sixers allowed Iguodala to shoot the wide-open three-pointer and he made them pay.

Iguodala set a career-high with seven three-pointers, with six of them in the first half. His 32 points were two shy of his career-high set on Jan. 24, 2007, in the Sixers’ double-OT win over Cleveland.

Incidentally, Monday’s game was Iguodala’s second trip back to Philadelphia since he was traded after the 2011-12 season. His first game with Denver was at the Wells Fargo Center in which Iguodala had 11 points on 13 shots, including 0 for 4 from three-point range.

Thad T’d up
Thad Young rarely looses his cool, but he picked up a technical foul for arguing against a call in the second quarter. Chalk it up to the frustration that comes with a big loss and a 3-for-10 shooting night.

If they’re free, make them
Though the Sixers shot a season-high 37 free throws, they hit just 23 for 62 percent. That’s not terrible, but in the first half when the game was still in the balance (for a little bit, anyway), the Sixers were 12 for 21 from the line.

Interestingly, the Sixers went into the game shooting 75 percent from the foul line in the final three minutes of games.

Turnovers, turnovers and turnovers
Another interesting stat … going into Monday’s game, the Sixers had not committed a single turnover in the final three minutes of games. They had 24 total against the Warriors with Carter-Williams and Evan Turner combining for 11.

Speaking of ugly stats, Spencer Hawes was minus-41 in 26 minutes.

Yikes.

Joel Embiid 'shoots the ball with the touch of like Steph Curry'

Joel Embiid 'shoots the ball with the touch of like Steph Curry'

NEW ORLEANS -- Of all the players Joel Embiid could be compared to, a similarity between a 7-foot-2, 270-something-pound center and a 6-foot-3, 190-pound point guard wouldn’t seem like a match.

That’s exactly what Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry sees, however, when looking at Embiid and reigning MVP Steph Curry.

“He’s different than anybody that’s been in this league in a long, long time,” Gentry said Thursday before the Sixers win over the Pelicans. “He’s a tremendous talent, he really is. I’ve never seen a guy that size, and with that kind of strength, that’s got such a soft touch. He shoots the ball with the touch of like Steph Curry. It’s so soft when it leaves his hand.”

Curry is shooting 48.9 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from three. Embiid is 45.8 percent from the floor is 44.2 percent from long range.

Embiid flashed a big smile and paused to react when hearing of Gentry’s praise. He had been feeling hard on himself after going 0 for 5 beyond the arc against the Pelicans (see story).

“Steph is probably one of the best shooters in the league right now," Embiid said. "So that compliment means a lot."

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

NEW ORLEANS -- The weeks and months have quickly piled up. Nerlens Noel has not played an NBA regular-season game since last season ended for the Sixers on April 13. Nearly eight months later, Noel is nearing the return he has been eyeing for quite some time now. 

“It’s always an excitement to be able to play basketball after this amount of time, including the summer, not being able to play organized basketball at a competitive level,” Noel said Thursday. “I’ve been really looking forward to this. I think I’ve gained some momentum coming back from this minor surgery, and I think I’m in a really good place and I’m feeling good with my body. Everything is on point.”

Noel has been sidelined since undergoing elective left knee surgery in October to address an inflamed plica. He traveled to New Orleans on Wednesday to join the Sixers ahead of their 99-88 win over the Pelicans (see game recap). Noel continued his rehab Thursday while the team prepped for the game. 

“I’ve been able do five-on-five, full contact,” Noel said. “I’ve tried to maximize my opportunities of that with the team being gone on the road. I came down here and went through most of shootaround and it went well. Now these next couple of days, [I will be] going through practice, still working on my wind. I do like where I’m at now.”

The Sixers’ next game is Sunday against the Pistons in Detroit. Brett Brown had given Noel’s availability for that game a “maybe” (see story)

“I’m not sure,” Noel said of playing Sunday. “I’m ready to go with these next couple of days and see how my wind feels and how my body feels, which I have been feeling good. So it’s a possibility.”

When Noel does return, there is a scenario in which he could be paired with center Joel Embiid. Last year, the Sixers struggled finding the best way to utilize Noel and Jahlil Okafor, also a center, at the same time playing the four and five positions. As Okafor has said of playing with Embiid, Noel also believes his off-the-court friendship with the towering rookie would translate onto the court. 

“I think it would be something that’s experimented,” Noel said. “It’d definitely be interesting.”

Noel candidly expressed his opinion of the Sixers’ logjammed frontcourt at the start of the season. Since speaking to the media after his surgery, Noel has mentioned he is in a good mental place (see story). For him, that means being out on the court again. 

“I love myself and I love the game of basketball,” Noel said. “When I step out here to come and play, it just brings a lot of enjoyment and excitement to me. Regardless of what the details of it are, I just love the game and I’m happy to just be playing.”