5 observations from Sixers-Warriors


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.


Sixers to ease in Jahlil Okafor off bench, expect more from him on D

Sixers to ease in Jahlil Okafor off bench, expect more from him on D

The Sixers struggled to carve a clear role for Jahlil Okafor last season as he and Nerlens Noel split time out of position in the frontcourt. Brett Brown has a more clear picture of how to utilize Okafor in his second year, highlighted by goals and a shift to the bench. 

Okafor has been sidelined from preseason action because of his right knee. He underwent surgery to repair a meniscus tear in March and aggravated it during the final training camp scrimmage. 

Okafor said he felt “pretty sore” after scrimmaging Monday, his first since camp, and he was better after going through individualized training and work in the water on Tuesday. This setback has forced him to exercise patience. 

“I know I told you guys I wasn’t frustrated a few weeks ago, but at this point it has been frustrating because I’ve been doing all the right stuff and I want to see me back out there sooner,” Okafor said after practice Thursday. “But I can’t rush my body, I can’t rush my health. ... I would love to have the opportunity to be there for opening night and play in front of our fans. Right now it’s looking like that’s probable."

The Sixers plan to use Okafor in a reserve role to start the season. Okafor expects to be on a 12- to 15-minute restriction, similar to Joel Embiid, when he is cleared to play. 

“I think about it all the time, but I talk to him. We’ve talked about this for months,” Brown said of Okafor's coming off the bench. “It’s not anything that is going to surprise anybody. He’s been fantastic. ... I talked with Jahlil about a lot of things and that could be, to start the year it will be, a scenario.”

Okafor, the third overall pick in 2015, started 48 of his 53 games last season. He is approaching this year with realistic expectations given his restrictions and is not concerned about being out of the starting five. 

“I’ll be fine,” Okafor said. “That won’t be a tough adjustment for me. I came off the bench a couple of times last year.”

Brown’s focus is not necessarily on how Okafor starts the game, but how he finishes. He would like Okafor and Embiid to be able to play together at the end of games to give the team a fourth-quarter boost.

“If it ends up you’ve got Jahlil coming off the bench and he’s going against backup five men, you think you probably have an advantage there,” Brown said. “If he does anything, he scores the ball, he scores buckets, he gets points. You can see how that can be a really nice role for him and for us.”

Okafor led the Sixers in scoring last season with 17.5 points per game. Brown, though, is focusing on his defensive improvements. The Sixers are looking to play an uptempo system in which they will need Okafor to hustle on defense each possession. Okafor slimmed down and added muscle this summer to prepare for the season. 

“He has to be elite in two areas to me,” Brown said. “Transition defense first — A-plus-plus-plus, get back. If you’re tired, if you’ve got to conserve energy, it’s not that way. It’s running back on offense. We have to get him back on defense.

“Then he has to be better skilled, better drilled by me, [a] high level of accountability with pick-and-roll defense. ... You can go over to defensive rebounding (as) a close third, but those two things happen the most.”

Okafor expects to be more effective on the defensive end after getting adjusted to it as a rookie. 

“(I want) to be smarter on defense, knowing where to be,” Okafor said. “My first year playing in the NBA, it was just a lot going on. Everybody was so fast.” 

Brown sees a focused 20-year-old who is more disciplined and ready to embrace whatever role he is given this season. 

“I can’t wait to coach him this year," Brown said. "I think he’s going to come back and have a great year. His body tells me that, his attitude tells me that. He’s in a good place personally."

Sixers eyeing players waived by other teams before finalizing roster

Sixers eyeing players waived by other teams before finalizing roster

CAMDEN, N.J. — As the Sixers decide who to keep on their roster and who to waive before the regular season, they also are keeping an eye on moves around the league.

Teams have been making cuts as the preseason winds down. In addition to assessing their own group of players, the Sixers are watching who becomes available. 

"There's always stuff that comes in late. You think you know a few days out and sometimes something happens," Brett Brown said after practice Thursday. "There are other teams that are releasing people too, and so the table is very fluid. The marketplace forces you to pay attention and make sure you're doing your job and growing your team. It's hard to say honestly (that) everything's in place and it's set, you know exactly [who] the 15 (players) are going to be. That is not true."

The Sixers' needs have shifted since the start of training camp. Once deep in the frontcourt and at the one spot, the Sixers have been hit by injuries to point-forward Ben Simmons (right Jones fracture), projected starting point guard Jerryd Bayless (sore left wrist), big man Jahlil Okafor (right knee) and center Nerlens Noel (left groin strain). They reportedly expressed interested in Timberwolves point guard Tyus Jones, according to The Vertical.

The roster stands at 20. Elton Brand announced he will be retiring, which clears up a spot. Cat Barber, Shawn Long, Brandon Paul and James Webb III, who signed with the Sixers this offseason, are those likely to be waived. Players that don't make the Sixers still could end on their D-League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers.

The Sixers will play their final preseason game on Friday against the Heat in Miami. Brown does not foresee a huge change to happen from the finale. He has been observing many of the Sixers since Summer League, and others returned to Philadelphia to work out ahead of training camp.

"I think it all adds up," Brown said. "We've seen a body of work. We've seen a lot. I think that it will play out more with that in mind than a dramatic performance on the last game of an NBA preseason."

When it comes time for Brown to make the final decision, the conversations don't get easier over the years. 

"It's always hard for me," Brown said. "A lot of these guys were with us over the summertime, so it's not like you just met him. It's never an easy time. But it's also a time, you feel like you've done your best to help them. They'll be better off, I think, for having spent time with us."

The Sixers begin the regular season on Oct. 26 at home against the Thunder.