Sixers-Wizards: 5 things you need to know

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Sixers-Wizards: 5 things you need to know

With the winning streak gone, the 3-1 Sixers will look to bounce back on Wednesday night against the 0-3 Washington Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center.

This game could be a little tricky for the Sixers. Last Friday, the Sixers rallied from a 14-point deficit in the third quarter to beat the Wizards, 109-102, in Washington’s home opener. The Sixers also withstood a first-half barrage from John Wall only to shut him down in the second half. They also faced the Wizards without veteran big man Nene, who hasn’t played since the season opener.

Here are a few storylines to keep an eye on for Wednesday night’s game:

1. MCW vs. John Wall, Part II
It was a tale of two halves last Friday for the speedy Wall. In the first half, Wall hit his first seven shots, hit 9 of 13 and had 23 points. In the second half, Wall shot 1 for 6 and had just three points.

What happened?

“We built a wall in front of him and he took a lot of shots to get going,” Sixers’ leading scorer Evan Turner said after Friday’s game. “Sometimes you use them all up. That’s pretty much it.”

Wall’s strength is his ability to get past the defense in transition. When the Sixers forced the Wizards to slow down and play a half-court offense, the shots stopped falling. Meanwhile, rookie Michael Carter-Williams was slowed by the Wizards’ defense. He had a solid performance with 14 points and five assists, but really excelled in running the Sixers’ offense.

What will round two bring?

2. Scoring in the paint
The Sixers scored an amazing 74 points in the paint last Friday. They also got 20 fast-break points, 18 second-chance points and nine offensive rebounds. Thad Young led all scorers with 29 points on 20 shots -- with just two outside of the paint.

Turner, who scored 23 points on 18 shots, made just two of them from outside of the paint and attempted just three shots longer than 14 feet.

That sums it up. The Sixers attack and run, and because of that they were able to wear down the bigger Wizards.

“We want to attack and attack. We want to get to the rim,” coach Brett Brown said after the game. “It’s not all about firing up threes, because if you look at our three-point shooting percentage, you say, ‘Oh, they’re 6 for 23 and they only shot 14 free throws and made seven. How do you win a game like that?’ So we did a good job continuing to run, and I was especially proud that they were able to run late in the game.”

The Sixers pulled off the same feat in rallying from down 20 against the Bulls on Saturday. Big teams like the Wizards and Bulls have had a difficult time keeping up with the Sixers late in games.

Expect the Sixers to try and wear down the Wizards again on Wednesday.

3. Turner’s zone
Turner is averaging a career-best 21.8 points through the early going, shooting a robust 52.3 percent from the field while converting on 19 of his 22 free throw attempts. He is second in the NBA in field goals, field goal attempts and has cracked the top 15 in league scoring average after four games.

Not a bad start for Turner.

Interestingly, Turner has found his hot spots on the floor. Of the 65 shots he has attempted this season, 51 have come from 15 feet and in. On those shots, Turner is shooting 65 percent (33 for 51).

But on shots longer than 15 feet, Turner is 1 for 14 this season, including 0 for 7 on three-pointers. That made shot was a 16-footer in the season opener against the Heat.

4. Battle of TOs
The Sixers turned it over 19 times last Friday in Washington, which led to 26 points. They committed 24 turnovers in the blowout loss to the Warriors on Monday night and have fought bouts of sloppiness throughout the exhibition and regular season.

It’s early, but the Sixers are third in the league with 76 turnovers (19 per game). They also have forced 77 turnovers, which is third-best in the league, which exemplifies the up-tempo pace.

5. This and that
• Turner has appeared in 139 consecutive regular-season games and has missed just four games in his four-year career. The last time Turner missed a game was Jan. 16, 2012, against Milwaukee when he had a quadriceps bruise.

• Along those lines, Spencer Hawes has appeared in 108 straight games. This comes after he missed 29 of 34 games with injuries during the 2011-12 season.

• The Wizards followed the loss to the Sixers with a 10-point loss to the Heat on Sunday. Bradley Beal scored 19 points to lead Washington, but shot just 6 for 14. The second-year guard is shooting 32 percent (16 for 50) this season, which underscores the Wizards’ early-season woes.

• Jan Vesely, selected with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2011 draft, has not appeared in a game this season. The 7-footer is healthy, but seems to be residing deep in coach Randy Wittman’s doghouse.

• Wittman was fined $20,000 after the game against the Sixers for cursing during the postgame press conference.

After the game, Wittman was asked about the loss and to explain what he thought was the problem.

Wittman said: “Well, you tell me what you think the problem is? You watched the game. Commitment to [expletive] playing defense. That’s what it is. That’s what it boils down to.”

Noel, Brown have had open dialogue about Sixers' big man situation

Noel, Brown have had open dialogue about Sixers' big man situation

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Nerlens Noel’s recent comments on the logjam of big men on the Sixers' roster did not come as news to head coach Brett Brown. While Noel had not been this publicly outspoken on the issue, he and Brown have been having open discussions about it. 

“I have been talking to Nerlens a lot and I have a fondness for him,” Brown said Tuesday on the first day of training camp. “I don’t begrudge Nerlens Noel at all for what he said. I don’t have any problems with it.”

The Sixers' crowded frontcourt this season is a continuation of last season’s conundrum in which Brown was tasked with playing Noel and Jahlil Okafor, two natural centers, together. The depth has increased with the return of Joel Embiid and additions of Dario Saric and Ben Simmons. 

So when Noel doubled down on Monday by saying, "I don't see a way it can work,” Brown recognized where the center's opinions were coming from as he enters his fourth season in the NBA. 

“I feel if we do anything well, we communicate with our players freely,” Brown said. “It is one hundred percent transparent — hard conversations ahead, easy conversations ahead. I have spoken with Nerlens about this a lot. 

“My messaging and my mood and attitude and things that come out of my mouth haven’t changed once. I feel very confident that I’m giving him the advice that he should hear from me and it still allows me to do my job. 

“We have talked about it freely, like I have talked about it with Jahlil and Joel. Those situations are part of pro sports. They’re ever-present with me and us right now.”

Noel has been a rare mainstay among a revolving door of players over the past three years. He is in a unique situation with Brown in that the two have experienced a long list of the team’s ups and downs together. Noel feels comfortable talking honestly with Brown about his viewpoints. 

“I’ve known Brett probably longer than most guys here and we’ve built a different type of relationship,” Noel said. “It’s been very front and forward and we talk and we keep it real. That’s what he’s been doing with me and that’s why I’m able to continue to talk to him about myself and him just telling me what position I’ll be in — he’ll try to put me in — to succeed.”

With Brown having an understanding of Noel, his focus is on what Noel can bring to the team this season. He believes Noel has an edge over Embiid and Okafor for minutes early on because Noel is the only one among the trio starting camp without restrictions from previous injuries. 

There is a tough competition for playing time among the bigs, and camp is about proving oneself through basketball, not through personal opinions. Brown was impressed on the first day of camp by the manner in which Noel approached the morning practice amid the comments.

“He has handled it with me and in the training session today like a pro,” Brown said. “He came to mean it. He didn’t back down at all. There was no moping or sulking or him being stubborn. He played. That’s what he has to do. I think that’s a real reflection of anybody of how you handle adversity. Today he handled it like a true pro and a true competitor.”

Bovada projects Nets, not Sixers, to finish at bottom of division, conference

Bovada projects Nets, not Sixers, to finish at bottom of division, conference

The Sixers finished in the basement of the NBA standings last season with a league-low 10 wins. But with the influx of young talent and addition of a couple veterans to the roster, the Las Vegas oddsmakers are betting on the Sixers to make some strides upward in the 2016-17 standings.  

Last week, the WestGate Superbook in Las Vegas set the Sixers' over/under for wins this season at an optimistic 27½, which was the fourth-lowest projection in the league.

Similarly, while Bovada is projecting another season of basketball filled with mostly losses in Philadelphia, the sportsbook doesn't view the Sixers as a shoo-in to finish as the league's worst team for the second consecutive year.

Per Bovada, the Sixers have the fourth-longest odds (125/1) to capture the Atlantic Divison title for the first time since 2001-02, beating out the Nets (250/1) by a considerable margin.

The favorite to win the division is the Celtics at 20/21, trailed closely by the defending division champion Raptors (21/20). The Knicks are between the Raptors and Sixers at 10/1.

The Sixers (150/1) also edged out the Nets (200/1) in odds to win the Eastern Conference championship. The two teams in the conference directly ahead of the Sixers in that futures bet are the Hornets (100/1) and Magic (50/1).

The Cavaliers are the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference at 5/11, followed by the Celtics (5/1) and Raptors (14/1).

Least surprising of all futures odds, Bovada has the Sixers tied with four other teams for the longest odds to win the NBA title. The Nuggets, Kings, Nets and Suns were tied with the Sixers at 500/1 odds to win the Larry O'Brien trophy.

The early favorites to win it all are the same two teams that met in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors are alone at top with the shortest odds at 4/5 trailed by the Cavaliers at 3/1.