The Sixers had little recovery time after flying cross-country Saturday night into Sunday morning following their fourth consecutive win.
However, they still looked fresh early against the Minnesota Timberwolves in their first game at the Wells Fargo Center after their six-game road trip.
It wouldn’t last.
The Sixers were throttled in a 126-95 loss to the Timberwolves to drop their record to 12-22 on the seaon.
The Sixers were tied with the Timberwolves at 46 with seven minutes to play in the first half. Minnesota proceeded to go on a 24-8 run to close out the half with a 70-54 lead.
The 70 points were one shy of the Sixers’ season high allowed in a first half this season.
Follow the leader
Kevin Love led Minnesota with 26 points and he sat the entire fourth quarter. Nikola Pekovic had a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds in 23 minutes.
Thaddeus Young scored 20 points in 28 minutes, while James Anderson came off the bench to score 14 points on 5 of 6 shooting. Anderson also grabbed seven rebounds.
One game after holding Portland’s NBA-leading three-point shooting attack to 3 of 22 from behind the arc, the Sixers allowed Minnesota to connect on 16 of 26 three-point attempts (61.5 percent) (see 6 observations).
The Timberwolves came into Monday’s game averaging 7.8 threes per game and 33.7 percent.
Take a bow
The Timberwolves’ defense held the Sixers to 95 points. They also forced Brett Brown’s group into 23 turnovers and turned those errors into 30 points.
During the Sixers’ four-game winning streak, they averaged 13.3 turnovers, almost four less than their season average.
The Sixers play the Cavaliers in Cleveland Tuesday night. The Sixers and Cavs split their two meetings this season when they played a back-to-back set on Nov. 8 and Nov. 9.
The Sixers on Monday acquired controlling stake 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.
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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