6 observations from Sixers-Bucks

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6 observations from Sixers-Bucks

Spencer Hawes was on the verge of losing his three-pointer streak until his finally got a clean look with 1:21 left in regulation. He got another one 54 seconds later to help the Sixers climb to within one point.

Hawes saved his most theatrical and heroic shot for last, though.

With 1.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Hawes hit an off-balance three-pointer while jumping off the wrong foot. With that, Hawes put his six-shooters into his invisible holsters and got ready for overtime.

Here are a handful of the theatrics from the Sixers’ entertaining 115-107 overtime victory (see Instant Replay) over the Bucks on Friday night:

1. Hawes gets another double-double
Mark it as nine double-doubles for big man Hawes this season. Only Chris Paul, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin have more double-doubles than Hawes this season.

Hawes scored 25 points with 12 rebounds and hit a three-pointer late in the fourth quarter to extend his streak to 14 straight games with at least one three-pointer. The three-pointer moved Hawes into sole possession of third place for threes made by seven-footers.

Hawes had a couple of dunks, including one on the business end of an alley-oop from Evan Turner, who led the Sixers with 27 points.

2. Another close call for MCW
The Sixers nearly were the first team in the NBA with two triple-doubles this season. Michael Carter-Williams came close to another triple-double in his second game back from a foot injury.

MCW had 12 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. He also had five steals.

The most impressive part of Carter-Williams’ near triple-double? He only took eight shots.

Tony Wroten got his first career triple-double in the overtime victory over Houston last week.

3. The second unit
With 2:57 remaining in the first quarter, Sixers head coach Brett Brown went with a lineup of Wroten, Elliot Williams, Hollis Thompson, Brandon Davies and Lavoy Allen. By the time Brown took that group out with 7:34 to go in the half, the Sixers had a 12-point lead that got as high as 15.

Thompson scored 10 of his career-high 16 points during that stretch with Allen pouring in six. Wroten dished out six assists.

Over the final 7:34 of the first half, the Sixers’ 12-point lead shrunk to just two points by halftime even though they shot 60 percent in the half.

4. Costly turnovers
Though the Sixers shot 60 percent from the field during the first half and hammered the Bucks on the boards by a two-to-one margin, the game remained close throughout the second half. How so? The Sixers committed 15 turnovers in the first half and a season-worst 26 for the game.

The team’s starting five had 21 turnovers, which is likely the reason the second unit was so effective when closing the first quarter -- the reserves didn’t turn it over.

The Bucks didn’t need to worry about the rebounding margin or the Sixers’ shooting percentage when the ball was handed over to them.

5. Traffic jam
The Sixers’ perimeter players had little difficulty in driving to the basket against the Bucks. In fact, Turner and Carter-Williams got the ball into the paint whenever they wanted.

The problem was finishing.

As soon as the Sixers dribbled or passed the ball into the paint, Milwaukee’s defense swooped in for a block or a hard foul. It didn’t dissuade the Sixers, though. The team had 52 points in the paint and 18 at the foul line.

6. If they’re free …
Thanks to the drives to the hoop, the Sixers got 29 free throws against the Bucks. They shot just 62 percent.

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The sprawling city skyline could have been the highlight of the Sixers' team dinner at One Liberty Place on Monday night. Instead, it was a surprise celebrity appearance that left them in awe.

Will Smith, who is part of the Sixers’ ownership, caught the players off guard when he visited with the team to offer advice and answer questions.

“Man, that’s one of my idols,” Nerlens Noel said following the first training camp session at Stockton University. “Everything he said I really took in and all the guys did too.”

Rather than entertaining the group with his acting or musical skills, Smith imparted important lessons that are applicable in sports. The 48-year-old has had decades of success across multiple platforms, and he offered pieces of wisdom that can resonate in any situation. 

“If you have bad people around you, that’s how people see you and that’s how you are,” Joel Embiid said. “He said to have good people around. That’s the main thing I got from that.”

The Sixers had differing memorable moments the morning after Smith’s visit, which demonstrated how many topics he addressed with the team. 

“He’s a good guy,” Ben Simmons said. “I definitely learned a lot from hearing him talk … You’ve got to look at things from a positive and negative with every situation.”

Jahlil Okafor was especially caught up in Smith’s appearance. Smith is Okafor’s favorite actor, most notably for his role in I Am Legend, and impressed Okafor with his character. 

“We already know about his accolades and how smart he is and obviously he’s an entertaining person,” Okafor said. “But it just seemed like he really wanted to be there to help us out. I just took away that he was a great person.”

Okafor also added, “It just helps [to hear from him] because the road to success is pretty much the same. It’s about being focused, it’s about knowing that you’re going to be knocked down, you’re going to fail. That was one of the messages that Will Smith shared, was expect failure but the main thing is to get back up.”

Noel previously had seen Smith courtside at Sixers games, and this was his first opportunity to hear directly from him. Noel listened to everything Smith had to say, from how to deal with the media to ranking his best and worst movies. 

“Never get caught up in too much of the negativity,” Noel recounted. 

While people view professional athletes as celebrities, the Sixers were on the opposite side Monday evening. 

“It’s hard to get starstruck nowadays,” Noel said. “But when you see Will Smith, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Cold can't keep Joel Embiid away from first Sixers practice

Cold can't keep Joel Embiid away from first Sixers practice

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Joel Embiid awoke Tuesday morning and was still feeling ill from a cold and virus he has been battling since last Friday. He had been coughing, experiencing a bloody nose and even vomiting, but all those symptoms could not stop him from a day he has been eyeing for over two years: his first NBA practice.

Embiid had stayed back in Philadelphia on Monday night while the Sixers traveled to training camp at Stockton University in South Jersey. On Tuesday, he decided to leave the city and join the team on campus.

“I woke up this morning and I was like, ‘I waited too long for this time, so I’ve got to go and try to do some work in there,’” Embiid said.

Embiid had been sidelined by foot injuries since the Sixers drafted him third overall in 2014. Tuesday marked his first NBA practice, and he is eyeing his first preseason game next Tuesday against the Celtics.

Embiid was not expected to be part of training camp Tuesday because of his illness. He surprised the team when he arrived while practice was underway. The Sixers' medical staff cleared him before he took the court.

“He forced himself into practice today,” head coach Brett Brown said. “He said, ‘I feel good, I want to go.’ With the time that he has put in the last few years, he meant it. You respected that instruction.”

Embiid is following a minutes restriction during training camp, which currently is 25 minutes for the morning session and 20 minutes for the evening session. His previous physical restrictions have been lifted and the team is monitoring him for workload and time on the court.

“I step back and figure out how do I want to spend my money?” Brown said. “If we’ve got X amount of time, where do I feel like he can make the most improvement? Where do I feel like he’s going to have the best chance to get on the court and play minutes, as we expect against the Celtics?”

Tuesday morning’s session focused on the defensive end. While Embiid had trouble breathing at points and tired quickly, he made an effort to give 100 percent on the court. The only lags in Embiid’s game Brown noticed were attributed to his illness, not because of his foot.

“I don’t think he’s missed a beat from a great month of September,” Brown said.

The Sixers sensed the enthusiasm from Embiid. Regardless of his restrictions, his energy was felt among the team.

“When he did get in, he played well,” Ben Simmons said. “He’s a big inside presence. He got a lot of boards and crashed the offensive glass.”

Added Jahlil Okafor: "He’s excited to be here. Obviously, he’s had a couple tough years with his injuries that he couldn’t control. But he’s finally here and he’s taking advantage of that."

The Sixers will hold training camp through Friday at Stockton University. Embiid is looking to push past any symptoms to be on the court as much as he can.