Sixers-Pacers: What you need to know


Sixers-Pacers: What you need to know

Sixers vs. Pacers, 7 p.m. — CSN
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia

Sixers: 21-26 (Fourth in Atlantic Division, ninth in Eastern Conference)

Pacers: 30-19 (First in Central Division, third in Eastern Conference)

Previous games
The Sixers held the injury-riddled Orlando Magic to a Wells Fargo Center record-worst 61 points in a 17-point victory on Monday. Spencer Hawes led all scorers with 21 points and 14 rebounds, while All-Star Jrue Holiday dished out 14 assists and committed just one turnover.

However, the Sixers suffered a major blow when power forward Thad Young went down with a Grade I hamstring strain. Young is expected to miss at least three weeks.

The Pacers head into Philadelphia for the third game of a back-to-back-to-back and riding a four-game winning streak. On Tuesday night, the Pacers handled the Atlanta Hawks behind double-digit scoring from seven different players with Paul George leading the way with 29.

Who’s hot
Hawes turned in his second double-double in the last three games against Orlando. Over the last seven games, Hawes has averaged 34 minutes per game, which is sure to go up with Young out.

Additionally, Holiday posted his 13th double-double of the season on Monday night, just one game after committing eight turnovers against Sacramento last Friday.

For the Pacers, George has scored 65 points in the last three games and is shooting 7 for 13 from three-point range over the last two games. Meanwhile, David West has scored 74 points in the last three games, shooting 28 for 44 (63.6 percent) from the field.

Who’s not
Evan Turner has just 18 total points in the last three games on a combined 8-for-26 shooting. Turner hasn’t hit a three-pointer since the Jan. 26 victory over the Knicks.

Probable starters
Sixers (last 10 games)
Jrue Holiday (22.4 ppg, 9.7 apg)
Nick Young (15.7 ppg, 45.2 FG percentage)
Evan Turner (14.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg)
Lavoy Allen (6.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg)
Spencer Hawes (11.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg)

Pacers (last 10 games)
David West (20.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg)
Paul George (18.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg)
Roy Hibbert (10.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg)
George Hill (15.1 ppg, 5.4 apg)
Lance Stephenson (8.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg)

Jason Richardson (left knee synovitis) is doubtful.
Andrew Bynum (bilateral knee bone bruises) is out.
Thad Young (Grade I hamstring strain) is out.

Danny Granger (knee) is out for three months.

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.”