Sixers-Wizards: 5 things you need to know

sixers-wizards-matchup.jpg

Sixers-Wizards: 5 things you need to know

The Sixers (13-27) will attempt to end their two-game skid when they continue their road trip against the Washington Wizards (19-20).

Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. (TCN) at the Verizon Center.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Moving on
It was ugly. You know it. They know it. Everyone knows it.

The rebuilding Sixers have had their share of brutal defeats this season, but Saturday night’s loss to the Chicago Bulls was certainly one of the worst. The Sixers were held to a season-low 78 points, shot 35.1 percent from the field and a dismal 10.5 percent from three-point range.

To make matters worse, Tony Wroten, James Anderson and Brandon Davies all suffered injuries.

The Sixers will try to put that nightmare behind them in a Martin Luther King Day matinee against a Wizards team that has been consistently inconsistent all season.

The Wizards appeared to be hitting their stride recently, winning a season-high three straight games before a hiccup against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday. That loss to the Pistons prevented the Wiz from getting over the .500 mark, a place the franchise hasn’t been since going 2-1 to start the 2009-10 season.

2. Wall ball
John Wall flat out gets up to play the Sixers.

Whether he merely sees a chance to attack mismatches or the fact that the No. 1 overall pick from the 2010 draft gets to face the team of the No. 2 pick that June, Evan Turner, the lightning-quick point guard has had his way against the Sixers.

Wall has averaged 19.2 points, 7.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game against the Sixers throughout his career. That point total has increased in recent matchups, with Wall averaging 24.7 points over the last three meetings.

The Wizards definitely go as Wall goes. When he scores at least 15 points, the Wizards are 18-10 this season. They are just 1-10 when he doesn’t reach that total.

The Sixers need to cut off Wall’s drives through the lane early in the game. That’s how Wall likes to get himself going, which gives him more confidence with the rest of his all-around game.

3. Slipping away
While the Sixers’ defensive focus should start with Wall, their offensive attention needs to be on taking care of the basketball.

The Sixers turned it over 17 more times against the Bulls to give them a whopping 64 turnovers in the last three games and push their league-worst average to 17.4 a night. The Sixers haven’t had under 15 turnovers since they had 10 against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 7.

Their tendency to give the ball away could certainly cost them in Monday’s matchup at “The Phone Booth.” The Wizards force 15.2 turnovers a game, tied for sixth in the NBA.

The Wiz don’t just force errors but they also capitalize on them. They are tied with the Sixers for seventh in the NBA in points off turnovers with 17.8 a game. The Wizards are also tied for seventh in fast-break points at 16.1 a game.

All numbers a team that turns it over as much as the Sixers don’t want to hear.

4. Injuries
Wroten (ankle), Anderson (back), Davies (finger) and Arnett Moultrie (ankle) are all day to day.

Nerlens Noel (knee) and Jason Richardson (knee) are out.

Trevor Booker (ankle) is day to day for the Wizards.

Al Harrington (knee) and Glen Rice, Jr. (wrist) are out.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have 11 straight road losses to Eastern Conference teams since beating the Wizards back on Nov. 1.

• The Wizards are 6-14 when allowing 100 points or more this season.

• Thaddeus Young is averaging just 11.0 points per game over the last three.

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."