Sixers don't want leaky defense to impact offense

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Sixers don't want leaky defense to impact offense

The Sixers continue to allow the most points in the NBA at an astronomical 110.9 per game.

The problem during their current four-game losing streak has been that their poor defense has impacted the other end of the court as well. The Sixers have failed to reach 100 points in three of those four defeats.

"When we have good ball movement I think it is contagious and we play better defense," Michael Carter-Williams said. "The first quarter I thought we did a great job moving the ball but, in that second quarter it got stagnant and we didn't get as many stops. We are better when we share the ball."

Carter-Williams was referring to the Sixers' 102-92 loss to the Knicks on Saturday in which they built a 28-20 lead after one quarter and then produced just 12 points in the second quarter while allowing 32.

After resting Sunday, the Sixers got back to work Monday at PCOM. Brett Brown's message to the team was pretty clear: Defense, defense and more defense.

"We have young guys who can get through it. They need to get through it and get some level of toughness," Brown said. "We need to play better defense. We can say all this stuff but we have to play better defense. It stops and starts there and it always will."

Carter-Williams is one of those young guys Brown was talking about. The leading Rookie of the Year candidate had 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in the Sixers' loss to the Knicks. However, MCW only took six shots in the game, a far cry from the 15.5 attempts he averages a night.

"Look at how many shots Michael got, six, and two of them were not good and one was an airball," Brown said. "They want to please, they want to do the right thing and they are trying. I hope I am giving them good advice.

"I know it is a team game. I know they must share the ball, but it can’t get misconstrued. It is always born out of attack. You have to attack and feel good about yourself. You have to force the defense and then kick it."

There's a delicate balance between trusting your teammates and trying to do things on your own that young players must learn. The Sixers do in fact share the ball quite well. They average 22.9 assists per game, which ranks ninth in the NBA. However, they still have moments when they fall behind and they take turns trying to dent the deficit with one-on-one play.

Carter-Williams knows the Sixers' ability to consistently swing the ball starts with him and the point guard believes he is getting closer to making that happen.

"I think I have become a better leader out there," Carter-Williams said. "I think I am pretty consistent at the defensive end and I am just trying to figure things out on offense and adjust because defenses are starting to change, so I am working on that."

Orthopedist on Sixers' Ben Simmons' injury: 'The prognosis is good'

Orthopedist on Sixers' Ben Simmons' injury: 'The prognosis is good'

On Friday, Sixers fans got some bad news when the team revealed that No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot.

The Sixers didn't give a timetable for his return, saying that they were reviewing treatment options for the 6-foot-10 point-forward.

As a guest on CSNPhilly's Sportsnet Central, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mark Schwartz gave a little insight into Simmons' injury. Schwartz is not treating Simmons, but has dealt with similar injuries. Schwartz believes the prognosis is good for the Sixers' rookie.

"The big question is where the exact location of this fracture is," Schwartz said. "That will dictate the prognosis and the treatment. If it's at the base of the fifth metatarsal, it's usually a non-surgical treatment. It's usually a cast/boot for six to eight weeks and return to play somewhere around eight weeks."

That would be great news considering Sixers fans didn't get to see Nerlens Noel the year he was drafted and are still awaiting the debut of 2014 draft pick Joel Embiid. 

Schwartz warns that the injury could be something known as a Jones fracture, which would likely require surgery and the recovery could be three to four months. The prognosis would still be good, according to Schwartz, but other NBA players have had lengthy recoveries with a similar injury.

"The prognosis is still good, but we know that Kevin Durant had a Jones fracture and he was out for an entire season because of it not healing," Schwartz said. "But the prognosis is good, however, the question is whether it's going to require surgery or not."

For more from Schwartz on Simmons' injury and possible timetable, check out the video above.

Ben Simmons suffers fractured bone in right foot

Ben Simmons suffers fractured bone in right foot

As the Sixers get two bigs back from injury, another goes down.

First overall pick Ben Simmons suffered a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot on Friday. Simmons rolled his right ankle during the team’s final training camp scrimmage at Stockton University.

Simmons underwent an X-ray and MRI on his right foot and ankle. Sixers head physician Dr. Christopher Dodson and Sixers chief medical officer and co-chief of sports medicine orthopedics at New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center Dr. Jonathan Glashow reviewed the images.

Simmons’ timetable to return is to be determined. The Sixers are considering further medical evaluation and treatment options. 

Landing the No. 1 pick and selecting Simmons was the highlight of the Sixers’ next chapter. They were supposed to be healthy this time around as they entered a new phase following a 10-72 season. 

The news of the fracture adds to years of injury-related setbacks. Nerlens Noel missed his entire rookie season rehabbing from an ACL injury. After undergoing two foot injuries in as many years, the 2014 third overall pick Joel Embiid is slated to make his NBA debut Oct. 4 against the Celtics in preseason action. Jahlil Okafor is also expected to play next Tuesday for the first time since his season-ending knee surgery in March. 

The Sixers drafted Simmons to become a focal point of their system. At 6-foot-10, 250 pounds, he is a point-forward with the potential to change the look of a lineup. During training camp Brown experimented with multiple combinations, including playing Simmons at the point, shooting guard and small forward. 

Brown called the two-three combination of Simmons and Dario Saric “6-10, do-alls” (see story)

Simmons, 20, impressed his teammates during camp. In just four days of practices, it was easy for them to see how Simmons would improve the Sixers. 

“He’s really physical,” Joel Embiid said. “He’s just a big presence. When he pushes the ball, you can feel it. He makes you want to go with him. … He’s so fast and he’s so big.” 

Said Nerlens Noel, “He just plays basketball the right way. When your big man does that, it makes it a lot easier because he is very versatile being a point-forward type. That opens up a lot of things for him to be able to open up for his teammates."

The Sixers will be faced with filling a role they haven’t actually had yet. They had gameplans of how to utilize Simmons, but they were implemented only in training camp. The Sixers have a frontcourt logjam which will allow them to plug in other players at the power forward spot. They also can fill his experimented role on the wings with traditional shooters. But his absence will eliminate versatile lineups in which players are essentially “positionless,” a Warriors-style of play that causes mismatches of size and skills. 

Even though the Sixers have an abundance of bigs, Embiid and Okafor will be monitored for minutes at the start of the season. Throw in Simmons’ injury and this creates opportunities for other frontcourt players such as Richaun Holmes and Elton Brand. With Simmons absence, there also could be more minutes for Saric to play his natural position at power forward. 

Simmons wasn’t letting himself get too far ahead as he entered his first NBA season. He has been taking each day one at a time with an excitement of the newness of his rookie year.

“I think it’s still surreal for me,” Simmons said on Media Day. “I think it’ll finally hit me once I step on the court matched up against OKC the first game.”

Now it remains to be seen when Simmons will play his first game.