6 observations from Sixers-Pistons

ap-philadelphia-76ers-pistons-turner-drummond.jpg

6 observations from Sixers-Pistons

BOX SCORE

The Sixers scored 63 points against the Pistons in the first half -- their second-best output in a single game before intermission this season. The Sixers were also up by 16 at one point.

And they blew it.

After a hot start, the Sixers cooled considerably and lost to the Pistons, 114-104, at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday (see Instant Replay). It was the Sixers' third straight defeat and their fifth loss in the last six meetings against Detroit. The win snapped a six-game losing streak for the Pistons.

Some observations from the game:

1. Thaddeus Young played just 21 minutes in the Sixers’ game against the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Tuesday. Part of that was because the Sixers got blown out, and part of it was owed to fatigue, according to Young.

Young looked better and played much more on Friday. He tied for a game-high 22 points to go with four rebounds and two assists in 40 minutes.

2. Evan Turner didn’t play much against Cleveland either, logging only 17 minutes. Against the Pistons, Turner had more points (8) in the first seven minutes than he did in the entire game against the Cavs (4). Turner finished with 19 points, five rebounds and a steal in 36 minutes against the Pistons.

3. Turner should probably think twice before trying to dunk on Andre Drummond again. In the second quarter, Turner went strong to the hoop and tried to throw down a two-handed dunk. Drummond blocked it with one hand, and without much trouble. The Detroit center is having an excellent season, and he’s averaging more than a block and a half per game. He is a man. And a monster. He’s a man-monster. For the game, the Pistons had an insane, almost-impossible 14 blocks. Drummond had six of them.

4. The Sixers aren’t good at stopping the three-pointer. You probably heard. They entered Friday allowing 10.3 threes per game (most in the NBA). The Pistons aren’t good at making threes. You might not have heard. Detroit came to Philly hitting just 6.1 threes per game (27th). But as it goes with most teams, the Pistons shot much better than usual against the Sixers. Detroit hit 11 of 30 from beyond the arc. At some point, the Sixers have to defend shots from distance -- don’t they? Or maybe they’ll just wait until next year for that.

5. The Sixers entered Friday evening as a slightly better rebounding team than the Pistons, averaging 0.7 more rebounds per game than Detroit. That was somewhat surprising considering the Pistons employ Drummond (12.7 rpg) and Greg Monroe (8.9 rpg), both of whom are in the top 20 in the league in rebounds per game. Detroit also has Josh Smith. And while Smith has been somewhat inconsistent this season, he went into the game averaging 6.8 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Spencer Hawes (8.6 rpg) is the only Sixer among the top 40 rebounders in the league. And with Lavoy Allen out with a right calf injury, it looked like the Pistons might dominate the Sixers on the glass. (OK, OK, Allen isn’t great, but he’s still a large human who occupies space under the basket.) That's what happened. The Pistons crushed the Sixers on the boards, out-rebounded their hosts by 20. The disparity was particularly ugly on the offensive glass, where there Pistons had a 25-13 advantage.

6. Friday was the first of a back-to-back for the Sixers, who play the Knicks at home on Saturday evening. It was also the first outing in a four-game homestand for the Sixers. The Sixers have lost five of their last six at home this season. They’re 7-10 overall at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers have had a winning record at home in 14 of the last 15 seasons. A year ago, they went 23-18 at the Wells Fargo Center.

Dario Saric halts slump with 'best game as a 76er'

Dario Saric halts slump with 'best game as a 76er'

Dario Saric came into the NBA knowing his rookie season would be one of ups and downs. He would have successes based on his talent and struggle because of the newness of the league and matchups.

Saturday’s performance against the Celtics was one of those highlight nights. Saric scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, both tying career-highs, for his third double-double. He was efficient in his performance, playing 27 minutes off the bench in the Sixers' 107-106 loss.

“I thought that was his best game as a 76er,” Brett Brown said.

Saric had struggled the night before against the Magic. He barely made a dent in 16 minutes, posting just two points (1 for 5 from the field) without a single rebound. The poor showing was on his mind Saturday, as he got ready for the second game of the back-to-back. He went in early to get up extra shots, met with coaches, studied film and thought about the matchup throughout the day.

“I prepared a little bit more for this game,” Saric said. “After I have some bad rhythm of five or six, maybe, games. Now I concentrate more. I try to give my best, try to play my best, try to think before everything happens.”

Saric showed his aggressiveness in crunch time in the fourth quarter, when he scored seven points and five rebounds in eight minutes. He nailed a three to cut the Celtics' lead to 92-91 with 4:28 to play. Then with 1:09 remaining, Saric’s free throws cut the Celtics' lead to two points. On the other end of the court, he snagged the rebound off an Isaiah Thomas miss and scored a game-tying layup from Jahlil Okafor.  

“He played great,” Okafor said. “He’s working hard every day, getting used to the NBA process. It was good to see hard work paying off for him.”

Saric has been adjusting to new roles throughout the season. He was thrown into the starting power forward spot when Ben Simmons was injured, and then moved to the bench when the team acquired Ersan Ilyasova. On Saturday, Brown also played Saric at small forward in Robert Covington’s (knee) absence, a shift the Sixers may try again.

“He’s a good teammate,” Brown said. “He’s biding his time. He understands he’s a rookie. Incrementally, he’ll be given these opportunities. Tonight he did and he responded and you’re seeing continued growth.”

Saric still is early in his NBA career, and Saturday's showing was a game he can look back on and study for the rest of the season. 

“I feel like tonight … you’d walk away and say, ‘Shoot, that’s a hell of a player for playing 20 games in the NBA and he did what he just did against a hell of a team,’” Brown said. “I’m proud of what we saw all over the place from Dario.”

Sixers' '66-'67 team reflects on success of 'best team ever'

Sixers' '66-'67 team reflects on success of 'best team ever'

As part of their “Salute Saturday” series, the Sixers honored the 1966-67 championship team at halftime of their 107-106 loss the Celtics on Saturday.

Fifty years after winning the title, the success of the squad (which went 68-13 in the regular season) still resonates with those representing the Sixers today. After all, they are the group Wilt Chamberlain described as “the best team ever.” 

“It’s just part of the history of this city and the organization,” said Brett Brown, who has established a relationship with Billy Cunningham through practice visits and emails. “There was a toughness with that team that he personified and the city sort of reflects. It’s stuff you hear me talk about all the time how you want our team to reflect the spirit of the city. That team did it.”

Prior to their tribute ceremony, members of the team reflected on their run in which they beat the San Francisco Warriors for the title. 

On Wilt Chamberlain
“Wilt was such a dominant figure, not only as a basketball player, but he’s almost bigger than the game,” Matt Goukas said. “He played so well, he was such a good team player – he started really passing the ball right around that time --and that enabled great scorers like Hal (Greer) and Billy and Chet Walker to do their thing, and Wilt was very happy to give them that leeway.”.

On fond memories
“It was a team that we played well together and we lived as a family and that’s what made it so good for us," Greer said. "A lot of fun, a lot of fun. We missed the next year, but 68-13 is not bad at all.”

“It’s hard to forget a situation like that where we had such a terrific team and the season went so quickly, we won so many games and then of course winning a championship,” Goukas said. “As a first year player I said, ‘This is the way it’s supposed to be, I guess.’ But of course I never won another championship as a player, but we had such a terrific group of guys and true professionals that for me as a rookie, Billy Melchionni as a rookie, we really benefited from guys like Hal Greer, Wally Jones and Harry Costello, they really showed us the way.”

On team chemistry
“It was very difficult times when you look at the sixties from a social aspect,” Cunningham said. “Martin Luther King was killed the following year we won the championship. Race relationships weren’t the best. And this time, which was just about half black-half white, I’m not even sure, it was never an issue. That’s the beauty I think of being on a team you know getting to know people, you judge them as an individual and nothing more than that.”

“I think it was our coach Alex Hannum, for one (that kept the team together),” Greer said. “And of course the big guy. He held us together most of the time, he could rebound, play defense, do it all.”