If At First You Don't Succeed: Sixers-Knicks, Take Two at WFC

If At First You Don't Succeed: Sixers-Knicks, Take Two at WFC

The bad news: The Sixers face off against the Knicks for the second time
in as many days and games today, a team that's 2-0 with a +36 scoring
margin, +16 of which came against the Sixers themselves yesterday
afternoon in New York. The good news: Tonight, the Sixers finally, at
long last, welcome back their once-projected starting center, their
big-ticket off-season acquisition, their man in the middle who has long
been riding the pine with injury as the Sixers and their fans anxiously
await his return.

That's right: Kwame Brown is starting at center for the Philadelphia 76ers tonight.

With
Jason Richardson likely out with his rolled ankle, Evan Turner slides
down to the two, Dorell Wright plugs in at the three, and with Lavoy
Allen having struggled somewhat in his two starts at the pivot thusfar
this season, Kwame will take his first bow, starting or otherwise, for
the Liberty Ballers tonight as their top center. Kwame missed the
Sixers' pre-season with a calf injury, but finally appears good to go
tonight. Andrew Bynum? We'll see him when we see him.

The Sixers
could certainly use some help on defense against this high-powered
Knicks offense, though the problem of what to do about Carmelo Anthony—a
problem that Thaddeus Young certainly came nowhere near solving
yesterday, and which Kwame seems unlikely to help with much—will likely
continue to vex the 76ers. At the least, we can hope the Sixers give the
Knicks more of a showing on the other end, where they've yet to eclipse
85 points in two games, with rotation wings Evan Turner (25% FG), Nick
Young (26%) and Dorell Wright (35%) all struggling badly with their shot to start the season.

The
Sixers will need help from those guys, at the very least to take the
burden of Jrue Holiday, the team's one effective offensive player
thusfar this season (non-Hawes division). With averages of 20.5 points
and nine assists a game, Jrue's off to a very strong start in Year One
of his four-year extension, but he's not gonna hand out double-digit
dimes (as he did in game one) or sink five threes (as he did in game
two) every night, and with J-Rich out indefinitely, Evan, Dorell and
Nick are gonna have to do a big job picking up the slack. And if Spence
wanted to stay out of foul trouble and give us another Game One-type
offensive performance, that would be similarly appreciated.

7:00
tip from the WFC. It's certainly not too late to derail this early
Dream Season that the Knicks are having—what's a New York team without a
little early-season dysfunction, anyway? In Kwame We Trust.

NBA Power Rankings: The Sixers remain in the bottom third of the NBA

NBA Power Rankings: The Sixers remain in the bottom third of the NBA

The most recent NBA power rankings have the Sixers dropping further or remaining in the lower third of the NBA. 

Recent news of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons’ injury situations have the experts assuming the season is a lost cause and the team is focused on this June’s draft.

A trade of Nerlens Noel confirms the Sixers are banking on building around Embiid and wanted to get a return on Noel instead of letting him walk at the end of the season.

Last week
The Sixers split their only two games of the week: A 120-112 win against the Wizards Friday night and a buzzer-beater 110-109 loss to the Knicks Saturday night.

Against the Wizards, Robert Covington recorded a double-double with 25 points and 11 rebounds – both team leaders. The Sixers had seven players in double-digit points including Dario Saric and Gerald Henderson both pouring in 20. The Sixers did not give up the lead after the beginning of the second quarter. 

Carmelo Anthony drained a game-winning shot on Saturday for the Knicks. Jahlil Okafor led the Sixers with 28 points while Saric added 19 and Covington tallied 20. 

This week
• Tonight, the Sixers face the Warriors in Philadelphia (7 p.m./CSN)

• Wednesday against the Heat in Miami (7:30 p.m./CSN)

• Friday they face the Knicks at home (7 p.m./CSN)

• Saturday they stay at the Wells Fargo Center for the Pistons (6 p.m./CSN)

What the experts say
John Schuhmann of NBA.com was gracious only dropping the Sixers from 21 to 22 this past week. Maybe he trusts the process. 

He makes a good point about Okafor's situation after the Noel trade:

“The Sixers have been at their worst offensively with Okafor on the floor, but he scored 28 points on 11-for-19 shooting on Saturday, getting two huge, final-minute buckets in the post before Carmelo Anthony hit the game-winner. He may not be the better fit, but he has two more years on his rookie deal.”

Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report dropped the Sixers to 24 on his list, three spots lower than last week. 

He took a look into Embiid’s efficiently in the post and found some interesting numbers from Chris Herring of ESPN's FiveThirtyEight:

“The 7-footer has really been in a giving mood near the basket, where he's coughed the ball up on nearly 22 percent of his post-up looks, the highest turnover rate among NBA players with at least 100 plays, according to Synergy. And his turnover rate jumps up to a whopping 32 percent when teams aggressively send a second defender to double Embiid in the post."

Hughes ended his piece by saying the Sixers look to be on a downturn for the rest of the season. 

Jeremy Wood of Sports Illustrated moved the Sixers one spot from last week which leaves them at 26 on his list. 

He questions “trusting the process” stating that there are many questions surrounding Bryan Colangelo and the front office after the Noel trade. 

“It’s a longer-term question, but there will be short-term clues.”

Couldn’t have said it any better. 

Finally, Matt Moore of CBS Sports drops the Sixers from 22 to 26 this week. Moore is starting to see a repetitive story with the Sixers and it’s struggles. 

“Usually if a team loses both its top picks in a rebuilding year, you feel awful for them and their fans. With the Sixers, you're left just feeling like this is the status quo, forever.”

Villanova keeps No. 2 ranking despite another loss to Butler

Villanova keeps No. 2 ranking despite another loss to Butler

Villanova remained the No. 2 team in the nation in Monday's AP poll after a 1-1 week.

'Nova split its two games against a pair of ranked teams, losing by eight points at home to No. 22 Butler on Wednesday before rebounding for a 16-point win over No. 23 Creighton Saturday.

The Wildcats are 27-3 and 14-3 in the Big East, losing to Butler two times by eight points apiece and to Marquette by two.

Butler moved up from 22 to 13.

Villanova kept its No. 2 ranking because of a loss by previous No. 1 Gonzaga. The Zags moved down to fourth, while Kansas jumped up from No. 3 to No. 1.

Kansas received 58 first-place votes. Villanova and Gonzaga received two apiece, with the remaining three going to No. 3 UCLA.

Villanova has just one regular season game remaining Saturday at Georgetown.