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.”

Charles Barkley: Sixers can be 'really good, really quickly'

Charles Barkley: Sixers can be 'really good, really quickly'

Charles Barkley is jumping on the Sixers bandwagon.

"I think the Sixers gonna get really good, really quickly, but it all depends on (Joel) Embiid," Barkley said. "They're not gonna win a championship the next couple years, but I think they can really become a perrenial playoff team in the next three years."

Sounds good, right? Not so fast. There are a lot of "ifs" according to Barkley. 

Most of those "ifs" ride on the health of center Joel Embiid. If the big man gets healthy, and the Sixers can resolve the "glutton of big guys," Barkley likes the Sixers chances.

"I think the most important thing they need to figure out is if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. ... I like (Jahlil) Okafor and I like (Nerlens) Noel, but they gotta figure out if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. 

"I like Ben Simmons, but that team's got a long way to go," Barkley said.

To hear more of Barkley's thoughts on the Sixers' future, watch the full video above. 

 

 

Team USA overpowers Argentina in 1st Olympic exhibition

Team USA overpowers Argentina in 1st Olympic exhibition

LAS VEGAS -- New team. Same old result.

Full of new star power -- and dominant on the inside -- the U.S. men's basketball team opened its bid for a third straight Olympic gold medal Friday night with a 111-74 exhibition romp over Argentina.

A game that was over almost before it began showed the U.S. has to improve its shooting and conditioning. It also showed that there is plenty of talent among a group of players that seem to want to play well for each other and their country despite the absence of Olympic stalwarts Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

"There's a willingness from these guys to work on anything we need and to work hard," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "These are very good guys."

A U.S. team that hasn't lost a game in 10 years had little trouble with Argentina, which some consider a medal contender in Rio. Paul George scored 14 first-half points, Kevin Durant added 12, and the U.S. blew open the game early before an appreciative crowd on the Las Vegas Strip.

Even with Bryant retired and James taking this Olympics off, there was no real talent drop off on a team heavily favored to win gold once again. The depth of the U.S. showed as coach Mike Krzyzewski rotated players in and out, searching for the right combinations on a team with 10 new players from 2012.

"Nothing is for sure," Durant said. "We want to get this gold and right now we have a job to do. We have to prepare the right way."

Count the Argentines among those who were impressed at the first real game for the Olympic team.

"Obviously, they have the best talent and the best size in the world," Argentina's Luis Scola said. "That's a big difference in their favor."

The game was the first of five exhibitions the U.S. will play before traveling to Rio to defend the gold medal. The U.S. team has spent the last week practicing in Las Vegas in preparation for the tour and the games.

There weren't any opening night jitters, though the U.S. shot only 45 percent and missed all but 14 of 41 3-pointers. With DeMarcus Cousins pulling down 15 rebounds in just 16 minutes, the U.S. dominated inside, outrebounding Argentina 53-30.

"The big thing is getting in shape and they are not there where they will be," Krzyzewski said. "But we really have an inside presence on the boards."

For Durant the game was a chance to play with a pair of his new Golden State teammates, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. It was also a chance for Durant and Carmelo Anthony -- the only two players from the 2012 team -- to demonstrate that this will be their team in Rio.

Both players cheered from the bench as the minutes were spread around, jumping up to clap for teammates. Every U.S. player got quality time, with Green's 12 minutes the least played by any American.

"We're going to have fun and we're going to enjoy ourselves," Anthony said. "If it's not fun it's not worth it. We're going to enjoy ourselves but at the same time we're going to be focused in trying to get that gold medal."

Durant finished as the game's high scorer with 23 points, while George had 18 and Carmelo Anthony 17. Andres Nocioni had 15 for Argentina, while Manu Ginobili added 11 for Argentina, which lost to the U.S. in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics.

Though at times little defense was played, there was plenty of offense to keep the crowd at the new T-Mobile Arena happy. The teams combined to put up 70 3-point attempts, 41 of them from the U.S.

Oddsmakers had made the U.S. a prohibitive 29.5-point favorite in what at times looked a lot like an NBA All-Star game. But while the U.S. team is loaded with 12 NBA players, the Argentines had only three on their roster and the talent difference showed.

While the team is full of new players, the gold medal run will be the last for Krzyzewski, the national coach for the last decade. His teams have lost only one game during his reign, which will end after the Olympics with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich taking over.

Manu Ginobili intrigued by coach Brett Brown, Sixers before re-signing with Spurs

Manu Ginobili intrigued by coach Brett Brown, Sixers before re-signing with Spurs

The Spurs have been one of the most consistent NBA teams for nearly 20 years. They have made 19 consecutive postseason trips and won five championships during that span. 

The Sixers, on the other hand, are entering a phase of building a new foundation with a group of young players. They are working to improve upon a 10-win season, let alone making the playoffs.

Yet four-time NBA champion Manu Ginobili saw more than records when weighing his options in free agency. The veteran point guard looked to the Sixers sidelines and was intrigued.

Head coach Brett Brown previously worked in the Spurs basketball operations department and on the coaching staff under Gregg Popovich. He was part of four championship teams in San Antonio. When the Sixers approached Ginobili this offseason, he gave them consideration before returning to the Spurs, where he has spent his entire 14-year career.

“The fact that Philadelphia had a great coach and a person I appreciate so much as Brett Brown, made it more appealing in the case the Spurs didn’t happen,” Ginobili told The Vertical on Thursday. “But the Spurs happened and they always had the priority.”

The Sixers reportedly offered Ginobili, 38, a two-year, partially-guaranteed deal worth around $30 million. The Spurs first offered him a one-year, $3 million contract. Ginobili ended up re-signing with the Spurs for one-year, $14 million. 

“It was not my main option. I never wanted to leave San Antonio,” Ginobili said. “But I had to listen to all the options that are there.”

Ginobili averaged 9.6 points, 3.1 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 19.6 minutes coming off the bench last season. The Sixers are adding veteran leadership, and Ginobili is one of the most experienced in the game. In addition to his reliability at the position, he could have been a mentor to the entire team and worked with Ben Simmons to help hone his point guard skills as the rookie big man plays point-forward. His years of international competition would have gelled with incoming players such as Dario Saric, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Sergio Rodriguez. 

The Sixers signed point guards Jerryd Bayless (three years, $27 million) and Rodriguez (one year, $8 million) this summer. T.J. McConnell and Kendall Marshall still are under contract. Last season's starting point guard Ish Smith signed with the Pistons at the start of free agency.