5 observations from Sixers-Cavs


5 observations from Sixers-Cavs

LAS VEGAS – The Sixers played their second Las Vegas Summer League game and Nerlens Noel played his first game since last Wednesday in Orlando when the team faced the Cleveland Cavaliers at Cox Pavilion on Monday night.

Here are five observations from the Sixers’ 86-77 loss to the Cavs (see game recap):

Fear the flat top
Noel had three of his four blocked shots in the first quarter. He also picked up his second and third personal fouls in the second quarter, which limited his same aggressiveness protecting the paint.

The Cavs shot 6 for 16 in the first quarter. They were 10 for 16 in the second.

Noel was not pleased getting into foul trouble, a discussion he had twice with the officials.

Early in the third quarter, Noel swatted his fourth shot of the night by sending Anthony Bennett's floater away.

Noel finished with those four blocks, but Sixers front office members had him altering nine other attempts.

Noel has touch around rim
We will spend more time talking about Noel's defense this upcoming season, but he does hang around the rim to catch a lob or put back a missed basket.

Noel shot 6 of 10 against the Cavs and two of his six rebounds were offensive.

Wiggins will blossom quickly alongside LeBron
Andrew Wiggins is an incredible athlete who is always moving on the floor.

The start of his career in the fall took on a whole different feel last Friday when LeBron James said, "I'm coming home" in announcing his return to the Cavs. James will do for Wiggins what Michael Jordan did for Scottie Pippen. Wiggins will become the perfect wingman that develops into his own greatness.

James is further along in his career than Jordan was when Pippen joined the Bulls, but the four-time MVP and Wiggins can become their own damaging duo.

Wiggins scored 10 points and grabbed three rebounds against the Sixers.

Bennett is not a bust in Vegas
Anthony Bennett, the No.1 overall pick from 2013, had a rookie season to forget. However, he appears more confident in summer league play this year.

Bennett made 5 of 12 field goal attempts for 14 points.

For his size, Bennett should be a better rebounder. He had four rebounds and five turnovers on Monday.

Bennett still has much to prove, but to be teamed up with James, Wiggins and Kyrie Irving and having a fresh start with new coach Dave Blatt, are all positives.

McDaniels and McRae deserve our attention
Jordan McRae led the Sixers in scoring with 18 points. His fours steals were impressive, too.

K.J. McDaniels played solid defense, taking the challenge of guarding Wiggins. McDaniels did not fill out the stat sheet as he did in his Orlando games, but good things happen when he is on the floor.

Jahlil Okafor eager for more minutes as knee heals

Jahlil Okafor eager for more minutes as knee heals

CAMDEN, N.J. — Jahlil Okafor has been patient with his right knee. He was disciplined with restrictions and recovery during the preseason, recognizing the goal of being ready for opening night. 

At the same time, once he got back on the court he wanted more. Okafor played eight minutes Friday against the Heat, his first game since Feb. 28 before undergoing surgery to repair a right meniscus tear. 

“I don’t think I’m going to do eight again,” Okafor said Sunday. “They kind of heard me complain about that a lot. I think it’ll definitely be more than eight, but it won’t be much more.” 

Okafor has been limited since reaggravating his knee during the final day of training camp. He practiced “to tolerance” on Sunday, according to the Sixers. Okafor did not participate in the team scrimmage and worked out individually with assistant coach/head of strength and conditioning Todd Wright. 

The second-year big man did not feel soreness on Saturday following the game. On Sunday, he felt “kind of stiff” during practice. Brett Brown has been watching Okafor’s movement closely. While Okafor considered it to be “good,” Brown was a tougher critic. 

“I think he looked OK,” Brown said. “He didn’t look great to me today. I’ll give him a B-minus … It’s always how do you move? East, west, north, south, how do you move?” 

Okafor scored four points, one rebound, one assist, one block and one turnover in Miami. He focused on his defense during the game. When he subbed out, he checked in with Elton Brand on the bench to receive feedback from the now-retired veteran. Okafor plans to continue to tap into him for advice throughout the season. 

With opening night three days away, Okafor still plans to be on the floor for it.

“I am optimistic about it,” he said. “I should be ready to go.” 

Robert Covington sprained his right ankle in Friday’s game and did not practice Sunday. Brown anticipates Covington, who has been starting at small forward, also will be ready to go Wednesday. 

“I do (expect him to play),” Brown said. “But we won’t know that for sure yet.” 

Sixers waive retired Elton Brand
The Sixers waived Brand on Sunday, making his retirement official. Brand announced his intentions to walk away from the game Thursday. The Sixers' request of waivers was a procedural step. The roster currently stands at 19. 

“It’s been an honor, it’s been a privilege to play this game, the game that I love, and I’m certainly going to miss it,” Brand said last week (see story). “But it’s definitely time now.” 

Brand celebrated his career with his teammates at Komodo in Miami on Thursday night ahead of their preseason finale against the Heat. 

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

It appears the Sixers' frontcourt logjam may not be an issue early on.

Nerlens Noel, who is having surgery Monday for an inflamed plica in his left knee, will miss the first three to five weeks of the season, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Noel suffered a left groin injury in the first preseason game against the Celtics and missed the rest of the preseason. While undergoing treatment, Noel reported left knee soreness, which led to the discovery of the inflamed plica.

It's been an odd start to the season for Noel. The big man was outspoken about his displeasure with the Sixers' frontcourt situation early in camp. With the deadline for Noel's rookie contract extension approaching on Oct. 31, the team has not had conversations about it, according to a report.

The Sixers are already without No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons as he recovers from surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot. The team will also be without their starting point guard Jerryd Bayless who is dealing with a ligament issue in his left wrist. Bayless won't require surgery and will be reevaluated in two weeks.