Harden, Rockets bad matchup for Sixers

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Harden, Rockets bad matchup for Sixers

Wednesday’s game against the Houston Rockets looks like the classic bad matchup for the Sixers. It’s one thing to have All-Star Dwight Howard on the roster, but to have him playing power forward alongside center Omer Asik is sure to create a size disadvantage.

Who guards Howard? Thad Young?

As if handling the Rockets’ size won’t be difficult enough, the Sixers have to contend with All-Star James Harden, who is averaging nearly 25 points per game and leading the league in three-point attempts.

Sixers coach Brett Brown is all too familiar with Harden’s game from his days as an assistant coach for San Antonio when he had to scout Harden’s teams.

“I had Oklahoma City when I was with San Antonio, so I was always watching them and James coming off the bench. Then you see the evolution of him as a starter and we coached him in All-Star Games, so we’ve seen him,” Brown said. “You’re always amazed at how big he is -- physically and height wise. He's such a force downhill -- he gets to the rim and he draws fouls and he’s always coming at you. He also has the ability to rise up and make threes or duck his head and bait fouls. He’s just a really hard guard.”

Where the Sixers might run into the most trouble against Houston is on the perimeter. Not only will Harden fire it up from outside, but Chandler Parsons also can light it up, averaging 19 points and shooting 22 for 42 over his last three games.

The Sixers have allowed the opposition to hit 13 three-pointers in five games and 15 three-pointers in three games already this season. The Rockets are second in the league in three-pointers attempted, averaging more than 25 per game.

Sixers acquire, merge two leading eSport companies

Sixers acquire, merge two leading eSport companies

The Sixers on Monday acquired controlling stakes in Team Dignitas and Team Apex, two eSport companies.

The companies will be combining under the Team Dignitas banner. The Sixers become the first North American sports franchise to acquire an eSports team, and intend to manage the day-to-day operations of Team Dignitas.

"There is a tremendous opportunity to leverage the infrastructure, resources and experience of the Sixers organization to support these exciting teams as they continue to compete at the highest levels across multiple games," Sixers managing general partner Josh Harris said in a statement. "We see our entrance into eSports as a natural extension of our expanding interests in traditional sports and entertainment and are confident that our involvement will accelerate the already rapid pace of growth in eSports as a whole.”

Team Dignitas and Team Apex have created games such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm and Smite.

5 lingering questions as Sixers training camp begins

5 lingering questions as Sixers training camp begins

Sixers training camp begins on Tuesday and there are plenty of questions as they enter a new chapter following a 10-win season and three tumultuous years of losing.

Here are five things to keep an eye on during camp as the Sixers prepare for the 2016-17 season.

How much will Joel Embiid play?
Embiid will begin the season under restrictions. What those parameters are remain to be determined. The Sixers will continue to proceed with caution for Embiid's NBA debut after two foot surgeries in as many years. It is unlikely he will play in back-to-backs to begin the season, and minutes will be allocated as the team assesses him during camp. The restrictions will create playing opportunities for other bigs in the meantime.

Who will start?
The Sixers have to set a starting five within an unbalanced roster. The team is loaded in the frontcourt and there are only so many positions to go around. Brett Brown said Jerryd Bayless would be the starting point guard if the season began today, and Gerald Henderson appears to be the lock at two-guard. Ben Simmons is the only certainty in the frontcourt, filling the four-spot. The Sixers will have to select a small forward and a center from the plethora of bigs. Expect the starting five to change throughout the season, especially as Embiid gets more games under his belt.

How will the team be different?
The improvement in the wins and losses column is a given. Now, the team is implementing changes off the court intended to have significant effects this season. They expect the new 125,000-square-foot training complex to provide a one-stop shop for all the players' daily needs. The facility was designed so players and staff could spend most of their time there and foster relationships with one another, focus on basketball and create an environment in which they know they can improve. There is also an emphasis on what Brown described as career-best fitness. The team is looking to play uptempo, and players will be pushed to amp up their health, strength and conditioning to compete within that system.

What will Simmons' role be?
Simmons has the unique versatility to be a point-forward. At 6-foot-10, he has the size of a frontcourt player as well as the ball handling skills and court vision of a point guard. There will be times when Simmons is tasked with running the floor. However, Brown has said point guard is the most challenging position and he does not want to throw Simmons into that right away. The Sixers bolstered their depth by adding Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez. Simmons will manage the floor at times, but it won't be his main responsibility.

How will the Noel situation play out?
There are too many bigs. That was the case last season with Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor and the issue still remains, only now Simmons, Embiid and Dario Saric are also in the mix. Noel expressed his uneasiness of the situation to the Philadelphia Inquirer (see story). There is a lingering logjam that has to be sorted out with a trade this season. Who is moved remains to be seen.

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