Dedmon brings defense, energy to Sixers

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Dedmon brings defense, energy to Sixers

Dewayne Dedmon appeared to be getting a crash course at the conclusion of the Sixers' practice on Tuesday. Dedmon had gone through his first practice with the second NBA team to call him up this season from the Development League.

Dedmon appeared in four games for the Warriors this season. 

“It is a grind,” Dedmon said of playing in the NBDL and waiting for an opportunity to play in the NBA. “Everyday you don't know when it is going to happen, so you have to mind your P's and Q's, especially in the D-League. You have to stay on top of your game.”

Dedmon put up impressive numbers while playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors in the D-League. In 15 games, the center averaged 15 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots per game. He also shot 54 percent from the field.

“The thing that we like most about him is that he is polishable,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. “His youth and his athleticism make it interesting. He runs. You can put him behind the scenes and he can put out fires and block some shots and we have some rim protection when we put him in. He is wide-eyed and grateful for the opportunity.”

Dedmon agrees that defense is his forte.

“I am a high-energy player,” Dedmon said. “On the defensive end I do what I do, rebound and block shots.”

Dedmon only started playing basketball his senior year of high school. In two seasons at USC, Dedmon posted modest numbers. Last year for the Trojans he averaged 6.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game before entering the NBA draft. He went undrafted.

Dedmon fills a roster spot that opened up when the Sixers waived Daniel Orton last week. Orton had appeared in 22 games for the Sixers averaging 3.0 points and 2.8 rebounds in 11.4 minutes a game.

“Daniel is fairly athletic for a man of his size,” Brown said. “But when you look at the body composition, Dewayne is probably more lean, more up and down. He has no problem running rim to rim.”

The Sixers have a rim-to-rim player in Nerlens Noel, but he is still on the road to recovery (see story). That type of big man seems tailor made for the Sixers' style of play, as they continue to have the fastest pace in the league.

Brown said he just might play the seven-foot Dedmon in Wednesday's game against the Bobcats.

Frontcourt players Lavoy Allen and Arnett Moultrie participated in Tuesday’s practice, but their availability for Wednesday is an unknown.

“Dewayne had a full practice. Arnett was in it [and] Lavoy was in it. You actually felt like you had a big team,” Brown joked. “I had no idea who I was coaching today.”

Allen missed the last two games with a calf injury. Moultrie has been sidelined all season after undergoing ankle surgery just before the start of training camp.

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.”