Sixers-Wizards: 5 things you need to know

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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.

Warriors complete comeback, oust Thunder in Game 7

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The Associated Press

Warriors complete comeback, oust Thunder in Game 7

OAKLAND – They beat the odds, clobbering them into submission.

Facing a 3-1 deficit in the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors rallied to take three successive games over Oklahoma City, finishing the epic comeback with a 96-88 victory in Game 7 Monday night before a delirious sellout crowd at Oracle Arena.

Stephen Curry scored 36 points and Klay Thompson fired in 21, as the Warriors become the 10th team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA playoffs – and the first to do so in the West finals.

Draymond Green added 11 points and also had a team-high nine rebounds, as the Warriors battled the bigger Thunder nearly even on the glass, 47-46.

Curry splashed 32 3-pointers in the series, the most ever for a player in a seven-game playoff series.

Ratcheting up the defense, the Warriors overcome a 42-point first half, their lowest total at home all season. They trailed by as much as 13 before storming back.

Kevin Durant scored 27 points to lead the Thunder. Russell Westbrook added 19.

STANDOUT PERFORMER

When his team needed him most, Curry was at his MVP best.

Curry’s line: 36 points (13-of-24 shooting from the field, 7-of-12 from beyond the arc), eight assists and five rebounds. He played 40 minutes and finished plus-18 for the game.

TURNING POINT

After OKC took a 54-48 lead on a Durant fadeaway with 8:15 left in the third quarter, the Warriors responded with a 23-4 run to go up 71-58 on an Anderson Varejao floater with 58.3 seconds left in the quarter.

Six different Warriors scored during the run, lead by Curry with six points. They held the Thunder to 2-of-11 shooting, with three turnovers, during the run.

The Warriors outscored the Thunder 29-12 for the quarter.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Warriors on Thursday play host to Cleveland in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Tipoff is scheduled for 6pm.

P.J. Carlesimo turns down Sixers' associate head coach job for 'family reasons'

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P.J. Carlesimo turns down Sixers' associate head coach job for 'family reasons'

Thirty-five years is more than enough time to get a sense of who a person is and how they do their job. That is how long Brett Brown has known P.J. Carlesimo, which made it easy for the Sixers' head coach to have interest in adding him to the staff. 

With Mike D’Antoni leaving to coach the Rockets, the Sixers had a vacancy at the associate head coach position. On Sunday, though, Carlesimo decided not to join the Sixers’ staff and remain a television analyst.

“He was a natural fit for me,” Brown said Monday following a pre-draft workout. “For family reasons, he just couldn’t do it. We talked a lot and it was an emotional thing from P.J.’s perspective. 

“P.J. is a very close friend of mine and he made that decision for family reasons and I understand it. The phone call really didn’t surprise me knowing what I know of him and how he views his family, having to travel across the country the whole time.”

Like D’Antoni, Carlesimo has a lengthy résumé on the NBA sidelines. He was a head coach for parts of nine seasons and worked five as an assistant coach. Brown called working with D’Antoni “a real learning experience,” and an ideal candidate would have similar experience to help both the staff and the young roster.

“That role will be filled with maybe that type of flavor,” Brown said. “I know this, we are still in a complete development mode. We still have a bunch of 20-year-olds, guys that could be with us for a long time, but they’re not old, that we have to make sure that the city and me, we remember that. We still need people and teachers that can teach and coach and establish relationships. 

“So you tick boxes on relationships, teaching, development, those still rule the day. If you can do that with some veteran wisdom and some type of experiences like Mike’s, say, or P.J. had, well then you’re really knocking it out of the park.”

Coaching vacancies are coveted at this level. With the No. 1 pick in the draft, a revamped front office, and a 125,000-square foot training facility under construction, the Sixers have enhanced the appeal of the role. 

"My phone is very active, as you can imagine," Brown said. "I think it’s a highly attractive position. … Like our draft picks, I too spend a lot of time studying who will be the best fit for me and our program."

NBA draft profile: Kentucky G Jamal Murray

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NBA draft profile: Kentucky G Jamal Murray

Jamal Murray

Position: Guard

Height: 6-5

Weight: 210

School: Kentucky

It's tough for a Kentucky star freshman to fly under the radar, but that's exactly what Murray did last season. While Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Buddy Hield and Denzel Valentine dominated the spotlight, Murray was quietly as good as anyone in the country for the second half of the season.

In Kentucky's final 14 games, Murray averaged just under 24 points and shot better than 46 percent from three-point range. For the season, he averaged an even 20 points and connected on 41 percent of his three-point attempts. He also chipped in an impressive 5.2 rebounds. 

Kentucky lost some games early and fell toward the bottom of the Top 25 rankings. But Murray continued to produce and played his best basketball down the stretch, lifting the Wildcats to 27 wins and SEC regular season and tournament titles. 

As good as he was during his only college season, Murray projects to be an even better pro. He's the best guard prospect in the 2016 NBA Draft. 

Strengths
Shooting the ball. He has the best shooting stroke of any prospect in this year's draft. Murray's form on his jump shot is textbook with the results to match. He's able to get his shot off quickly and has range well beyond the NBA three-point line. Murray's outside shot is his greatest asset. Shooters are always in high demand and have never been more valuable in the NBA. The defending champion Warriors offer all the proof you need of that.

However Murray isn't a one-dimensional player. He can get to the basket off the dribble and is a terrific finisher around the basket. He also developed a polished mid-range game during his time at Kentucky. Murray also plays hard — a characteristic that NBA executives monitor closely. He rarely takes a possession off and competes hard on the glass for a perimeter player, as evidenced by his five rebounds per game last season.

Weaknesses
Murray doesn't have a defined position on the NBA level. He's not a true point guard and isn't quite big enough to be considered a prototypical shooting guard. While NBA talent evaluators are concerned by this, I don't necessarily view it as a weakness. Murray projects as a combo guard, capable of playing point guard but also comfortable away from the ball. He's similar to the Trail Blazers' C.J. McCollum in that regard.

Murray isn't an elite-level athlete and by no means is he a great defender. He'll struggle to stay in front of the more dynamic perimeter players in the NBA. But he has a very good work ethic and should be able to improve defensively.

How he'd fit with the Sixers
Extremely well. The 76ers need shooters. That need will only become exaggerated if and when they draft Ben Simmons with the No. 1 pick. With Simmons, Dario Saric, Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid, the Sixers have a significantly frontcourt-heavy nucleus. They need quality guards to balance out their lineup.

The much-discussed hypothetical trade that would send Okafor to the Celtics for the No. 3 pick makes a ton of sense for the 76ers. They could clear out space in their frontcourt rotation as well as acquire Murray with that third pick. Murray would flourish playing alongside Simmons, knocking down the open jump shots that Simmons creates.    

NBA comparison
I see a mix of Bradley Beal and Eric Gordon in Murray's game. Beal and Gordon have similar builds to Murray and both entered the NBA as exceptional shooters. All three are natural scorers who have no problem getting their own shot on the NBA level.

Draft projection
Murray will be a high-end lottery pick. He could go as high as No. 3 to the Celtics and shouldn't fall any lower than No. 6 to the Pelicans.