10 observations from Sixers-Heat

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10 observations from Sixers-Heat

BOX SCORE

Bottle this one and send it to Springfield, Mass.

With the 114-110 victory over the Miami Heat in the season opener, the Sixers may have turned in the performance of the season (see Instant Replay). To beat the two-time defending champs, the Sixers had to withstand allowing 80 points in the second and third quarters, while blowing a 22-point lead and overcoming a nine-point deficit.

Phew.

The Sixers also received something of a historical performance from rookie Michael Carter-Williams in his NBA debut. MCW had nine steals, which is an NBA record for a player in his debut. He just missed notching the first triple-double in an NBA debut, going for 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals and seven rebounds.

Here are a few observations from Wednesday’s opener:

1. The Sixers made their first 11 shots of the game and then missed 11 straight shots from the 1:10 mark of the first quarter until there was 6:10 left in the first half. The Sixers scored the first 19 points of the game and then allowed a 14-1 run to open the second quarter.

2. Carter-Williams had quite an NBA debut. His first basket came on a steal and a breakaway dunk. He followed that with an assist to Spencer Hawes on a running one-hander before burying the first three-pointer attempt of his career.

For a player who shot just 30.7 percent from three-point range in college, Carter-Williams was not bashful about taking his shot in his debut. In 36 minutes, MCW went 6 for 10 from the field, including 4 for 6 from three-point range.

The 22 points is the most in a debut by a Sixer since Allen Iverson scored 30 on Nov. 1, 1996 and the nine steals ties the club all-time record.

Maurice Cheeks is the last Sixer to have a double-double in his debut, going for 10 points and 13 assists on Oct. 13, 1978.

Oh yeah, Carter-Williams had just one turnover.

3. Though Evan Turner still struggles with his outside shot, he was able to get to the basket for layups and a couple of dunks. Turner went 0 for 4 from beyond the arc, but converted on 10 for 19 from the field for a team-high 26 points.

4. Turner had some trouble from in close, though. With 7:52 left, Turner missed a layup that would have brought the Sixers within one point. On the next possession, Turner got a steal and fed Thad Young a little too much, resulting in a turnover. Rashard Lewis hit a short jumper on the next trip down the floor to push the lead to five points.

5. Tony Wroten came off the bench to score 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting. More importantly, Wroten brought a lot of energy on defense when Carter-Williams was catching a breather on the bench.

6. Before training camp began, Brown said the Sixers would have plenty of minutes for any player who wanted them. He wasn’t lying. Brown played nine of the 11 players who dressed for the game and they all got at least 12 minutes.

7. Hawes quietly scored 24 points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds in 29 minutes.

8. Speaking of quiet performances, LeBron James scored 25 points and dished out 13 assists. Ho-hum.

9. Though the Sixers have a 51-49 all-time record against the Heat, they snapped a 15-game regular-season losing streak with the win. Counting the postseason, the Sixers went into the game having lost 19 of 20 to the Heat.

10. In addition to scoring 80 points in the second and third quarters, the Heat hit 16 three-pointers and went 10 for 13 from long range during the third quarter.

Shawn Long the latest of Sixers to seize opportunity

Shawn Long the latest of Sixers to seize opportunity

CHICAGO -- Injuries have been creating opportunities for different players on the Sixers all season.

Just last week, we took a look at the emergence of Richaun Holmes and how he has moved up the depth chart and proven himself to be a reliable first backup center next season (see story).

Shawn Long has been capitalizing on the same opportunities since earning a call-up from the Delaware 87ers. The Sixers signed Long to a multi-year deal on March 16 following the end of his 10-day contract. His contract is guaranteed for the remainder of this season but partially guaranteed after that, making every game an audition for the future.

The Sixers are down to three centers since the season-ending injury of Joel Embiid (see story), and just two when Jahlil Okafor is out. Long has slid into the backup (and sometimes backup-to-the-backup) role Holmes previously held.

"I think that Shawn Long has really grabbed his brief opportunities and been more than serviceable," Brett Brown said this week. "He's shown reasons why he should be considered a genuine NBA player."

Long's numbers, standing alone, aren't jaw-dropping. Taking a closer look, though, they are efficient. In seven games this month, Long is averaging 5.8 points (shooting 59.3 percent from the field) and 3.5 rebounds in 9.0 minutes.

In Wednesday's loss to the Thunder, Long led the Sixers with six rebounds (in a game they were held to a season-low 25 boards) and 13 points in 15 minutes off the bench. Seven of those minutes came in the first half, so this wasn't just a case of getting a run in a fourth-quarter blowout situation.

On Monday, Long spread his contributions across the stat sheet in the Sixers' overtime loss to the Magic: four points, two rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks in 11 minutes.

Going back to Sunday's 105-99 win over the Celtics, he played a key role in the Sixers' third-quarter push that cut a double-digit deficit to only three points heading into the fourth. He posted eight points and three rebounds in 5:52 during the third.

Long has to watch his foul trouble as he gets adjusted to defending NBA opponents. He is averaging 4.7 personal fouls in 11.0 minutes over the last three games.

Long also continues to focus on his three-point shooting to stretch the floor. He is just 2 for 3 from three as a Sixer. On Wednesday, he worked on long-range drills with Holmes after shootaround.

With the skills he has and those he is honing, Long could be the latest member of the Sixers to make a name for himself by maximizing playing time when he receives it.

"Isn't it fantastic -- as we've seen over the years, opportunity uncovers different qualities in people," Brown said.

Now with Thunder, Jerami Grant still considers Sixers family

Now with Thunder, Jerami Grant still considers Sixers family

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Jerami Grant was the first familiar face to be traded in a season that has seen Nerlens Noel and Hollis Thompson exit town as well.

The Sixers dealt Grant to the Thunder on Nov. 1 in exchange for Ersan Ilyasova and a protected draft pick. The Thunder had already played the Sixers on opening night in Philadelphia, and nearly five months passed before Grant faced his former (and only other) team.

"It's still family, everybody in the organization," Grant said. "They're doing well, they're playing a lot better, so I'm happy for them."

Grant's life was thrown into a tailspin when he was traded. In a flash, he had to leave the city he had called home since 2014. So quickly, in fact, his family had to move out of his home in Philadelphia for him.

"I had to pack my bags and things in two hours," Grant recalled. "I had to get a physical so I could play the next day in L.A. At first it was a little shock, but once you settle down, it's OK."

Grant quickly found a role with his athleticism. He averaged 6.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 21.2 minutes before the All-Star break. The reunion with childhood best friend Victor Oladipo was an added bonus to the adjustment period.

"I settled in well," Grant said. "I think everybody did a great job of just bringing me in. I think the fans have done a great job of embracing me. Whenever I get on the court, they give me a standing ovation, so that's great. My teammates are great, too."

Grant's playing time waned when the Thunder acquired Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott from the Bulls. Grant is averaging 3.4 points, 1.5 rebounds and 0.2 blocks in 12.3 minutes since the break. He continues to stay focused on improving his three-point shot every day in practice, which was a focal point with the Sixers.

Grant played 11 minutes against the Sixers and scored three points (a trey, nonetheless), along with three rebounds and two assists (see game recap). Brett Brown has seen Grant play enough games to believe in spite of his lessened role on the Thunder, he will have a place in the league for years to come.

"He lives right, he's prideful, he wants to be good," Brown said. "He's athletic enough to feel like there's potential there. He's a wonderful person and a great teammate. There's a cleanliness, there's a wholesomeness to Jerami Grant along with pedigree, his family tree ... that makes him for sure to me an NBA longtime player."