There's No Place Like Home Against Washington: Sixers-Wizards on a Friday Night

There's No Place Like Home Against Washington: Sixers-Wizards on a Friday Night

Well, after the Sixers' first loss in seven games—and arguably their
toughest of the young season—we couldn't ask for a much better
bounce-back game than this. The 1-9 Wizards, easily the worst team in
the league to start the season, are visiting tonight in the first game
of a home-and-home with Philly, very possibly the two easiest games the
Sixers will play all season. The Wiz caught a little momentum with their
first win of the season earlier this week against the Raptors, but lost
that quickly with a 14-point loss to a Bulls team without MVP Derrick
Rose, in which the team managed only 62 points in four quarters.

Of course, no game in the league is truly a gimme, and the Wizards did
give the Sixers some trouble early last year, most notably in that
heartbreaking game early in the season where a couple Evan Turner missed
free throws late allowed the Wiz to tie the game up and get the win in
overtime. But that was a different Sixers team, and all indications this
season would lead you to believe to the Sixers being the vastly
superior team—not to mention the two pre-season games the teams played,
both Sixers wins.

The Wiz might have an advantage up front, however, since as with the
Jazz and Knicks, they boast size that will difficult for us to match up
with. JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche might not be the brightest bulbs
in the box, but they make for a fairly imposing frontcourt, and starting
center Spencer Hawes is questionable for a second straight game with
his bad back. The Ballers will likely need a big contribution from
rookie big Nikola Vucevic, and a solid defensive effort from Jrue
Holiday (and possibly 2010 draft partner Evan Turner) on Wizards point
guard John Wall—off to a slow start in '11-'12, but always a threat with
his blinding speed and impressive court vision.

7:00 tip from the WFC. “We’re not going to blame the schedule or
anything like that,” Elton Brand said of the team's 85-79 loss in New
York on Wednesday. “Every
team has a tough schedule this season and you have to give (the Knicks)
credit.
They outplayed us when it counted.” Easy to say about Carmelo and
Amar'e—harder to say about the Wizards. Let's hope we won't have to.

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”