Atlantic Division Preview: Sixers

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Atlantic Division Preview: Sixers

In the final installment reviewing the state of the Atlantic Division heading into the 2013-14 NBA season, John Finger tells us what to expect out of the Sixers:

Philadelphia 76ers
2012-13 record: 34-48 (fourth place in Atlantic Division)

Arrivals
The entire roster save for Thad Young, Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner, Lavoy Allen and Kwame Brown.

Departures
Jrue Holiday, Andrew Bynum, Dorell Wright, Nick Young, Damien Wilkins.

Projected starting five
PG – Michael Carter-Williams
SG – James Anderson
SF – Evan Turner
PF – Thad Young
C – Spencer Hawes

Fun fact
Thad Young and Spencer Hawes were teammates in the 2006 McDonald’s High School All-American game. Going into his seventh season, Young is the longest-tenured Sixers player since Andre Iguodala spent eight seasons with the team. With seven years in the NBA, Young won’t turn 26 until next June 21.

Outlook
No player has averaged 40 minutes per game since Monta Ellis did it in 2010-11 for Golden State and no Sixer has done it since Allen Iverson in 2005-06 (though Iguodala averaged 39.87 minutes per game in 2008-09). The significance of this is with the Sixers’ inexperienced and depth-challenged roster, Young and Evan Turner will be counted on to play heavy minutes for Brett Brown.

Look, we all see that 10 to 15 wins is going to be a fight for the Sixers this season. In the rebuild of all rebuilds, the Sixers are looking to the 2014 NBA draft in which they could have two lottery picks. In the meantime, it’s going to be a long, trying season on the court for the Sixers.

Projection
Is the 9-73 record of the 1972-73 Sixers in jeopardy? Doubtful. However, each win the Sixers get in 2013-14 is going to be a battle. Nothing will come cheap for the Sixers this season.

Sixers-Nuggets 5 things: Defense needs to improve to stop skid

Sixers-Nuggets 5 things: Defense needs to improve to stop skid

The Sixers (4-16) close out their four-game homestand against the Denver Nuggets (7-13) at the Wells Fargo Center tonight (7:00/CSN and CSNPhilly.com).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Missing the stop sign
Apparently, tis the season for giving up points.

The Sixers' defense folded again in their latest loss, a 107-106 defeat to the Boston Celtics on Saturday night. The Sixers have allowed 107.8 points per game this season (25th in the NBA) and 109.1 during their six-game losing skid.

The Sixers let All-Star Isaiah Thomas do the damage on Saturday as he scored 37 points to become the fifth point guard to reach the 30-point plateau against them this season.

On the other side, the Nuggets' defense has actually been even worse. They rank 27th in the league with 109.5 points allowed per game.

2. Hello again
With Joel Embiid also making his debut this season, Dario Saric was always going to play second fiddle when it came to rookies on the Sixers' roster. That has certainly been the case now that Embiid has been putting up dominant numbers while Saric has been up and down.

However, Saric was on the same level as his fellow rookie against the Celtics. The Croatian broke out of a recent slump to notch a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds, which both matched career highs.

That performance also included this highlight-reel moment when Saric destroyed Jonas Jerebko's ankles (see video).

“I prepared a little bit more for this game,” Saric said (see story). “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.”

3. Clean the glass
The Sixers will need a similar effort from Saric on the boards if they want to compete with the Nuggets.

Denver is the No. 1 rebounding team in the entire NBA with 49.6 rebounds per game. The Nuggets attack the glass on both ends, too, as they are tops in defensive rebounding and No. 2 in offensive rebounding.

The offensive boards are also a main reason Denver sits third in second-chance points with 15.6 a night.

None of that bodes well for a Sixers team that rates just 20th overall in rebounding.

4. Injuries
Jahlil Okafor (gastroenteritis) is questionable. Robert Covington (knee/illness), Jerryd Bayless (wrist), Nerlens Noel (knee) and Ben Simmons (foot) are out for the Sixers.

Nikola Jokic (wrist) and Gary Harris (foot) are out for the Nuggets.

5. This and that
• The Sixers lost both meetings with the Nuggets last season by a combined four points.

• Monday's game will feature both players who won the NBA's Rookie of the Month awards in Embiid and Nuggets guard Jamal Murray. Embiid is averaging 18.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 23.2 minutes per game. Murray is putting up 9.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 21.7 minutes a night.

• In seven career games against the Sixers, Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried has averaged 7.6 points and 6.9 rebounds. Those are actually his lowest and third-lowest marks, respectively, against any NBA team.