Philadelphia 76ers

6 observations from Sixers-Pistons

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6 observations from Sixers-Pistons

BOX SCORE

The Sixers scored 63 points against the Pistons in the first half -- their second-best output in a single game before intermission this season. The Sixers were also up by 16 at one point.

And they blew it.

After a hot start, the Sixers cooled considerably and lost to the Pistons, 114-104, at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday (see Instant Replay). It was the Sixers' third straight defeat and their fifth loss in the last six meetings against Detroit. The win snapped a six-game losing streak for the Pistons.

Some observations from the game:

1. Thaddeus Young played just 21 minutes in the Sixers’ game against the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Tuesday. Part of that was because the Sixers got blown out, and part of it was owed to fatigue, according to Young.

Young looked better and played much more on Friday. He tied for a game-high 22 points to go with four rebounds and two assists in 40 minutes.

2. Evan Turner didn’t play much against Cleveland either, logging only 17 minutes. Against the Pistons, Turner had more points (8) in the first seven minutes than he did in the entire game against the Cavs (4). Turner finished with 19 points, five rebounds and a steal in 36 minutes against the Pistons.

3. Turner should probably think twice before trying to dunk on Andre Drummond again. In the second quarter, Turner went strong to the hoop and tried to throw down a two-handed dunk. Drummond blocked it with one hand, and without much trouble. The Detroit center is having an excellent season, and he’s averaging more than a block and a half per game. He is a man. And a monster. He’s a man-monster. For the game, the Pistons had an insane, almost-impossible 14 blocks. Drummond had six of them.

4. The Sixers aren’t good at stopping the three-pointer. You probably heard. They entered Friday allowing 10.3 threes per game (most in the NBA). The Pistons aren’t good at making threes. You might not have heard. Detroit came to Philly hitting just 6.1 threes per game (27th). But as it goes with most teams, the Pistons shot much better than usual against the Sixers. Detroit hit 11 of 30 from beyond the arc. At some point, the Sixers have to defend shots from distance -- don’t they? Or maybe they’ll just wait until next year for that.

5. The Sixers entered Friday evening as a slightly better rebounding team than the Pistons, averaging 0.7 more rebounds per game than Detroit. That was somewhat surprising considering the Pistons employ Drummond (12.7 rpg) and Greg Monroe (8.9 rpg), both of whom are in the top 20 in the league in rebounds per game. Detroit also has Josh Smith. And while Smith has been somewhat inconsistent this season, he went into the game averaging 6.8 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Spencer Hawes (8.6 rpg) is the only Sixer among the top 40 rebounders in the league. And with Lavoy Allen out with a right calf injury, it looked like the Pistons might dominate the Sixers on the glass. (OK, OK, Allen isn’t great, but he’s still a large human who occupies space under the basket.) That's what happened. The Pistons crushed the Sixers on the boards, out-rebounded their hosts by 20. The disparity was particularly ugly on the offensive glass, where there Pistons had a 25-13 advantage.

6. Friday was the first of a back-to-back for the Sixers, who play the Knicks at home on Saturday evening. It was also the first outing in a four-game homestand for the Sixers. The Sixers have lost five of their last six at home this season. They’re 7-10 overall at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers have had a winning record at home in 14 of the last 15 seasons. A year ago, they went 23-18 at the Wells Fargo Center.

Sixers sign veterans Kris Humpries, Emeka Okafor

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Sixers sign veterans Kris Humpries, Emeka Okafor

Just about 24 hours before the start of the most anticipated training camp in years, the Sixers have brought two veterans into the fold.

The Sixers on Monday morning announced the signings of forward Kris Humphries and center Emeka Okafor.

Humphries, the 14th overall pick by Utah in 2004, is entering his 14th season in the league and the Sixers will be the ninth team he's played for after the Jazz, Raptors, Mavericks, Nets, Celtics, Wizards, Suns and Hawks. The University of Minnesota product and former Mr. Kim Kardashian's best season came in 2011-2012 in New Jersey when he averaged 13.8 points and 11.0 boards a night.

Okafor was the second overall pick by the then expansion Charlotte Bobcats in the same 2004 NBA draft following a studded career at the University of Connecticut that included the 2004 national championship.

While he's averaged 12.3 points per game in his NBA career, he hasn't quite lived up to the billing that comes with being the No. 2 pick. In fact, after spending 2012-13 with the Wizards, Okafor hasn't played an NBA game since. That's because Okafor suffered a severe herniated disc in his neck that has required time and patience in recovery. Now feeling comfortable enough to play again, the 6-foot-10 Okafor, who's played for the Bobcats, New Orleans Hornets and Wizards in his career, is getting his next chance with the Sixers.

Okafor's best season was his rookie year in Charlotte when he averaged 15.1 points and 10.9 points per game.

Sixers training camp opens Tuesday while the annual media day takes place on Monday.

2017 Sixers training camp: 5 storylines

2017 Sixers training camp: 5 storylines

Monday is media day, which means the start of training camp is 24 hours away. The Sixers are positioned to be a team to watch in the NBA this season, and with that comes storylines to pay attention to before it kicks off. From health to new additions to contract extensions, here are five things to look for in training camp. 

Restrictions
Minutes. Games. Back-to-backs. Those are in question when it comes to Joel Embiid. Last season the big man was limited to 31 games, did not play in back-to-backs, followed a closely-watched minutes restriction, and underwent season-ending knee surgery in March. Embiid has not been cleared for 5-on-5 yet, making his game availability to be determined during camp.

“It’s not about being ready for the first practice or the first game,” president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said regarding Embiid last week. “And he will be out there for the first practice and the first game. The question is how much, how little, if at all. Those things will be determined by certain criteria along the way.”

It also remains to be seen if Ben Simmons, who missed all of last season because of a Jones fracture, will end up being placed under restrictions as well. The Sixers have enhanced their medical staff with the addition of Dr. C. Daniel Medina Leal to the newly-created VP of athlete care position. Leal previously worked for FC Barcelona.

Embiid contract extension
The Sixers and Embiid have a very significant decision to make before the start of the regular season. The deadline for Embiid’s contract extension is Oct. 16, two days prior to opening night.

For such a serious business matter, there are so many question marks involved on both sides. How many games will Embiid play? How is his health after yet another injury last season?

If the Sixers offer the max in the extension, would they be overpaying? If Embiid accepts a percentage of the max based on these uncertainties, will he be taking less than if he waited for restricted free agency?

These questions will be answered in less than a month.

Point guard role
The Sixers plan to utilize Simmons as an unconventional 6-foot-10 point guard. Expect him to be tasked with defending power forwards on defense. This role will lend itself to more versatile lineups wherein the Sixers can be a position-less team in many cases. With Simmons at the point, Markelle Fultz will slide over to the shooting guard spot when they are paired on offense. The Sixers traded up to draft him No. 1 in part for his ability to play off the ball.

The backup point guard roles will have to be sorted out. Jerryd Bayless is returning from appearing in just three games last season because of a wrist injury. The veteran can play both guard spots in the backcourt. T.J. McConnell, who started 51 games last season, will once again find himself fighting for minutes.

Jahlil Okafor's future
The Sixers are entering another season with a logjam of centers. Jahlil Okafor still does not have a clearly defined role with Embiid as the starter and Richaun Holmes making a strong case for increased minutes as the backup.

The team remains open to trading Okafor, as they attempted to do last season, if they find the right fit. Okafor’s health will factor into the Sixers’ opportunity to make a deal. He continued to battle right knee soreness after undergoing surgery for a meniscus tear in March 2016. Okafor last played on March 22.

Looking to improve his game, Okafor has gone “mostly” vegan. He is down to 258 pounds, 20 less than his weight in last year’s training camp.

Starting 5
The Sixers had 30 starting lineups last season and will be looking for more consistency this time around. Don’t expect standard roles, either. With Simmons running the point, players will be shifted into different positions depending on matchups.

Back in July, I projected the 2017-18 starting five and that group hasn’t changed, in my opinion. I am going with Fultz, JJ Redick, Robert Covington, Simmons and Embiid. 

There are many people who reacted strongly to the idea of Covington as a starter instead of Dario Saric. Covington is key to the Sixers' defense, though, and Saric can thrive as a go-to in the second unit if he embraces that role.