6 observations from Sixers-Nets


6 observations from Sixers-Nets


NEW YORK -- Another game, another three-point barrage against the Sixers. Here are six observations from the Nets’ 130-94 victory over the Sixers on Monday night at the Barclays Center (see Instant Replay).

1. Back when Kevin Garnett played for the Celtics, his pregame psych-up theatrics caused a bit of a commotion. In games at the Garden, the Boston fans got fired up and cheered along with Garnett as he beat on the basket support, made a mess with the talcum powder at the scorer’s table before hopping and skipping onto the floor with fist bumps all around.

But in Brooklyn, the crowd is a little more laid-back and cool. Garnett’s theatrics aren’t broadcast on the scoreboard at the Barclays Center. In fact, Garnett got tangled up in the cord of a courtside camera when going through his regimen.

Whatever it is about Garnett’s routine, it works. In his 19th year in the NBA, Garnett knows what it takes to get himself ready and on Monday night, it worked. Garnett drilled a 19-footer on the first shot of the game. He also contributed four rebounds and three assists and was a plus-26 in 12 minutes during the first half.

2. Evan Turner hobbled off the floor and into the locker room just 90 seconds into the game with what turned out to be a contusion to the nail bed of his left big toe. Given the pounding the players’ feet take during a game, let alone an 82-game season, it’s a wonder Turner had a toe nail to protect the nail bed in the first place.

Turner didn’t stay off the floor long. Presumably, he had the toe bandaged and that was good enough.

3. Paul McCartney attended the game in Brooklyn. Any time a Beatle is in the building, it automatically becomes one of the top-two coolest places in the world.

4. Clearly the biggest issue during the Nets’ slow start to the season was the absence of point guard Deron Williams. Playing in his fourth game in a row, Williams had a knack for being in the middle of everything. Early in the first, Williams picked up an assist, stole the inbounds pass and stepped back to drill a three-pointer. On that one, Brett Brown called a quick timeout and lit into his team.

Meanwhile, Williams dished out a season-high 13 assists. Those passes led to 34 points. Conversely, the Sixers’ got five layups from their top assist man, Turner.

5. Before the game, Nets coach Jason Kidd warned his team that the Sixers would not relent from their up-tempo pace. Because the Sixers are the youngest team in the league with an average age of 23.5 and the Nets are the third-oldest with an average age of 30, the pace could have led to some uncomfortable moments.

“No matter what the score is, these guys keep coming,” Kidd said. “They play 48 minutes. [The Sixers] come at you on makes and misses, so transition defense is going to be big.”

6. When Celtics great Larry Bird scored 60 points against the Atlanta Hawks in 1985, his outside shooting was so unbelievable that players on the Hawks’ bench were high-fiving each other. There was no high-fiving on the Sixers’ bench during the third quarter on Monday night, but no worries. Joe Johnson didn’t need it for everyone to know he was shooting the lights out.

Johnson scored 29 points in the third quarter against the Sixers, which is the fifth-most points scored in one quarter in NBA history (see video). It also is the most points scored in one quarter against the Sixers. Had Johnson’s right heel not been on the three-point line on one shot late in the quarter, he would have had an even 30 points in the quarter.

Johnson made eight three-pointers in the quarter and shot 10 for 13. He also had an assist, which is pretty incredible in itself.

Who scores 29 points in a quarter and gets an assist?

Johnson did not play in the fourth quarter, but finished the game with 37 points on 13 for 20 shooting, including 10 for 14 from three-point range.

Meanwhile, the Nets made 21 three-pointers. In the last two games, the opposition is 42 for 72 from three in the last two games.

Sixers 2016-17 player evaluation: Justin Anderson

Sixers 2016-17 player evaluation: Justin Anderson

Justin Anderson

Position: Small forward

Status for 2017-18: Guaranteed -- $1,579,440

Anderson in 2016-17
Anderson was the main return from the unpopular Nerlens Noel trade. The Sixers traded Noel to the Dallas Mavericks for a heavily protected first-round pick (which predictably did not convey) and the swingman Anderson.

Anderson struggled to crack the Mavs' rotation behind veterans like Chandler Parson and Wesley Matthews and their never-ending supply of point guards who also played off the ball. Anderson showed signs of being the player that was drafted 21st overall in 2015 out of Virginia while getting more run with the Sixers. In his 24-game stint with the team, Anderson averaged 8.5 points and four rebounds in 21.6 minutes a game. He also showed off a toughness and physical nature on the defensive end as well.

Signature game
Anderson saved his best for last. In the Sixers' one-point loss to the Knicks in the final game of the season, Anderson scored a career-high 26 points. He shot 9 of 10 from the field, including 3 of 4 from three. He also added three assists and three steals.

Looking ahead to 2017-18
The Sixers have an interesting situation on the wing. Robert Covington is clearly the best wing player on the roster, but he'll get pushed by Anderson and 2016 first-round pick Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. This year's draft also has a few intriguing wing prospects.

If Anderson can shoot the way he did his final season at Virginia (45 percent from three), he'd be a perfect fit for the Sixers. He's shown he can be a tough defender on opposing wings. Covington and Anderson could be a nice tandem for the Sixers at small forward.

On Anderson
"When we look at players and we talk about, 'Do they fit how we want to play?' We talk about, first and always, defense. 'Do we feel like that guy can guard?' And I feel like he can. I think that there was a toughness in him, a physicality with his body and his mind that equal the type of spirit that we want from our young players in relation to willing, wanting to play defense first."

-- Sixers head coach Brett Brown

Looking at ex-Sixers playing in this year's NBA playoffs

Looking at ex-Sixers playing in this year's NBA playoffs

If nothing else, the Sixers are in the NBA playoffs by proxy.

No fewer than 18 former team members are (or were) in the postseason, representing 13 of the 16 playoff teams. (The only Sixer-less clubs are Boston, Memphis and Toronto.)

Here, in inverse order, are the top 10 ex-Sixers in this year's playoffs:

10. Michael Carter-Williams, Chicago
The ultimate endorsement of Sam Hinkie’s sell-high approach, MCW began his professional career with a near-quadruple-double against the Miami LeBrons in the 2013-14 opener — a game, Carter-Williams said earlier this month, that ranks "high up there" on his list of Philadelphia memories. 

“Maybe besides being drafted," he said, "that might be my favorite moment, to be sure."

He wound up Rookie of the Year, but Hinkie traded him midway through the following season, in a deal that brought the Sixers that still-to-be-cashed-in first-rounder from the Lakers. Given the way Carter-Williams' career has flat-lined, you'd have to give the former GM high marks for that transaction.

9. Mo Speights, Los Angeles Clippers
His role has expanded since Blake Griffin was injured, to the point that he was given a start in Game 4 against Utah. That's a lot to ask of Speights, who is more of an energy guy off the bench -- usually in low-pressure situations.

8. Evan Turner, Portland
Former Sixers coach Doug Collins was doing a Blazers-Warriors game the other night for ESPN, and he managed to say some nice things about Turner, the second overall pick in 2010 -- how tough he is, how he can handle the ball and create his own shot, etc. Not once did Collins mention Derrick Favors. Nice job by him.

7. Luc Mbah a Moute, Clippers
He locked up Jazz star Gordon Hayward in Games 1 and 2 of their series, then was force-fed a 40-burger by Hayward in Game 3 (a game the Clippers nonetheless won). And last time out, Mbah a Moute was powerless to stop the rejuvenated Joe Johnson down the stretch. So it goes, when you’re a defensive stopper in a league where no one can truly be stopped. The Cameroonian will forever be remembered as the guy who discovered Joel Embiid seven years ago in a gym in their homeland. 

"Obviously when I saw him he was still very raw, 'til now," Mbah a Moute said in January. "All the compliments to him, to put in the work. … He's a grown man now."

Meniscus willing, Embiid will continue to measure up.

6. Ersan Ilyasova, Atlanta
When the Hawks were in town last month, Sixers coach Brett Brown praised Ilyasova for his "ruthless" preparation, and everyone seems to agree he is the consummate pro. A native of Turkey, who also has U.S. citizenship, he possesses a wider worldview than your average NBA player. Take, for example, his stance on the on-again, off-again travel ban proposed by the current presidential administration: "It seems, like, ridiculous. The United States, it's all immigrants. It's not like the culture was created by the people who were here 1,000 years before. We all come from Europe."

5. Thaddeus Young, Indiana
Swept out of the playoffs by LeBron and Co. on Sunday, he was here as recently as three years ago. Seems far longer. And when asked earlier this month if games in the Wells Fargo Center still stir something within him, he said, "I'm beyond that. … It's always good to see friends and the people I spent seven years with here, but I just take it as another game."

4. Kyle Korver, Cleveland
Have jumper, will travel. He is 35 now, and 14 years removed from the 2003 draft, when the Nets took him in the second round and immediately sold him to the Sixers. Korver, fanatical about his offseason conditioning, led the league in three-point accuracy this season, the third time in the last four years he has done so. He is also tied for fifth all-time in made threes, with 2,049. The thought of him lurking at the arc while LeBron invades the lane is surely not a comforting one for opponents.

3. Lou Williams, Houston
Lou gets buckets. Always has and probably always will, up to the point where he's terrorizing some over-50 league. A second-round pick out of a Georgia high school in 2005, Williams -- who is only 30 -- has never been a high-percentage shooter (41.7 lifetime), but he is a high-volume scorer (having rung up over 10,000 points despite starting just 90 of 782 games in his career). He is on his fifth team, and the fire-when-ready Rockets would appear to be a perfect fit. 

2. Andre Iguodala, Golden State
He is now what everyone here always thought he should be -- a complementary player on a great team. He has been part of the Warriors' closing quintet -- their so-called "Death Lineup" -- for four years now, getting stops, setting up the stars, making an occasional shot. During the regular season he led the league in assist/turnover ratio (4.6-to-1), nailed a career-high 52.8 percent of his attempts from the floor, shot the three-ball better than he has in the last five seasons (36.2) and sank free throws at his best clip in the last seven (70.6).

1. JaVale McGee, Golden State
Folks will little note, nor long remember his six-game stint with the Sixers in 2014-15 (and really, why should they?), but Shaquille O'Neal's close personal friend has resurrected his career with the Warriors – mostly by hanging out near the rim and dunking a bunch of alley-oops. Nice work if you can get it. If nothing else, though, he has given the Dubs' future playoff foes something else to think about. They have an entirely different look and feel when he's on the floor, as was obvious during their sweep of Portland.

Others receiving votes: Lavoy Allen, Indiana; Matt Barnes, Golden State; Isaiah Canaan, Chicago; Dewayne Dedmon, San Antonio; Jerami Grant, Oklahoma City; Spencer Hawes, Milwaukee; Shelvin Mack, Utah; Jason Smith, Washington.

Special citations: Joel Anthony, San Antonio; and Moe Harkless, Portland, who were Sixers on paper only -- Anthony for a hot minute in February 2016, before a trade from Houston was voided, and Harkless for just over a month after the 2012 draft. He was then part of the ill-fated Andrew Bynum trade.

And not to be forgotten: Washington coach Scott Brooks played here back in the day, too.

Oh, and one more thing: Yet another ex-Sixer, Willie Green, is a Warriors player-development assistant. He gets to sit behind the bench and watch that every night.