It's never too early in the NBA off-season for the 76ers to consider what needs to be improved upon for next year, and for the Sixers as any other team, chemistry is always an important concern. No doubt Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner, two key players on the team who struggled on occasion to congeal on the court at the same time, could use some work in that department. But just as important as getting the timing down on the court is making sure that the respect and trust is there off of it. And nowhere can the strength of that relationship be better tested better than on a fake game show held by a sarcastic late-night host.
'Dre and Evan represented the Sixers in a game of the "Team-Mating Game" on Jimmy Kimmel Live earlier this week, going up against LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden of the Portland Trailblazers, in a spiritual rematch of the 1977 NBA Finals. The two Philly swingmen were quizzed on their knowledge of the other, on subjects ranging from their annoying habits, to their embarrassing on-court moments, to their taste in women. Over the course of the contest, we learned the following odd facts about the duo:
-Andre has an unhealthy obsession with Twizzlers
-Evan plays with his belly button too much in practice
-Andre has a bad habit of twisting people's words around
-Evan fancies himself a boob man, and everybody knows this
Ultimately, the two do show fairly good chemistry—up until the end, when the pair balk at chugging a ice cream soda together for fear of looking like their off-court chemistry is a little too good. Hey guys, nobody said that winning an NBA championship is easy. If that involves having to make googly eyes at each other over a tall fountain drink on occasion, that's just the price you're going to have to pay, isn't it?
RICHMOND, Va. -- Justin Tillman had 16 points and nine rebounds to lead five VCU players in double figures in a 90-52 victory over La Salle on Sunday.
VCU held La Salle to 15 made field goals and forced 16 turnovers.
VCU went on a 19-0 first-half run -- with 11 points from JeQuan Lewis -- for a 38-14 lead and the Rams led 42-16 at halftime after shooting 51.5 percent. Lewis made 5 of 6 shots and had 13 of his 15 points in the first half.
Samir Doughty added 15 points for VCU (15-5, 5-2 Atlantic 10). Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed had 13 points and 11 rebounds and Jordan Burgess scored 10. Tillman was 7 of 10 from the field as the Rams shot 56.5 percent.
Jordan Price and Saul Phiri each scored 11 points for La Salle (11-6, 5-2) and Pookie Powell added 10. It was a season-high for the freshman Phiri but the Explorers were just 15-of-53 shooting (28.3 percent).
Well, if anyone hoped the Sixers' performance at game's end against Portland on Friday night -- with Joel Embiid riding the bench, ruled out for the game's remainder with a left knee contusion -- would carry over to an entirely Embiid-less game again Saturdaynight... I guess you're not alone, 'coz I sorta did. Perhaps it shouldn't have been particularly surprising to see that the Sixers were still the same team last night in Atlanta they were the previous Saturday against the Wizards: good enough to hang against an above-average East team, but not nearly good enough to actually win.
At least they kept this one closer longer. Normally, against the Hawks, once the single-digit lead in the first half balloons into the double-digit lead in the third quarter, it never deflates back, but this time we cut it down to seven a couple times -- just never hitting that one big shot that would've really made things interesting, ultimately losing 110-93. It doesn't help that Nik Stauskas is in the midst of one of his most refrigerated runs as a Sixer, going just 7-30 (3-16 from deep) over Philly's last five games, or that Dario Saric is similarly bricking shots near and wide, a remarkable 2 for 22 over his last couple contests.
This, sadly, is a primary reason why the Sixers' playoff hopes, while fun to dream about, are still unlikely to be more than a flicker. Over the next few weeks, the Sixers have a trio of back-to-backs coming up, with the back-end games coming against Milwaukee, Sacramento and San Antonio -- none of which Philly, 2-12 without their star center, are probable to win sans JoJo. Even if they can take care of business with Embiid on the court, it'll be tough to make up the ground that the Sons of Sam need to while they have to drop one every three or four games as Joel sits.
That's fine, though. This season's been super-fun, but we shouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves: Let's ensure Embiid's health, maybe get Ben Simmons out there too, secure a nice draft pick or two (though the plummeting Kings could be of significant help with that themselves), and focus on making next year even more of a thing. The future remains impossibly bright, even if the present is going to have to be borderline-unwatchable once or twice a week.