Intriguing storylines await Sixers at the start

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Intriguing storylines await Sixers at the start

The NBA regular season is fast approaching. After a season-opening date against the two-time champion Miami Heat on Oct. 30, the Sixers face some intriguing storylines from the opposition in the month of November.

Chicago pays a visit to the Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 2. It will be the first time the Sixers have faced the Bulls with Derrick Rose since April 28, 2012.

On that day, the top-seeded Bulls were up 12 with 1:10 to play in Game 1 of a first-round playoff series against the Sixers. Rose caught center Spencer Hawes backpedaling off the dribble, crossed over and left his feet off a jump-stop. The former league MVP came down writhing in pain with a torn ACL.

Seventeen months later, Rose is back in action. Will he be as explosive as he was prior to the injury? Will he fear attacking the rim?

Two days after the Rose parade, Golden State comes to town. While Stephen Curry and his sharp shooting is basketball entertainment at its finest, the site of Andre Iguodala in another visitor’s uniform will again be front and center.

When Iguodala was a Sixer, he hardly captured the affection of Philadelphia fans. His body language often suggested issues were present and his monotone answers after games -- while thoughtful and intelligent -- painted the picture that what surrounded him was not enough.

Yet, Iguodala’s game says he produces winning numbers. The nine-veteran has started all 695 games he has appeared in throughout his career. He has averaged 15.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game over that span. Iguodala is also an excellent defender and his unselfishness makes him a great teammate on a good team, as opposed to a questionable leader on a mediocre squad.

Cleveland comes to town on Nov. 9, but whether Andrew Bynum is along for the trip remains to be seen.

As you know, Bynum spent the entire 2012-13 NBA season on the sideline after being acquired by the Sixers. He came to Philadelphia with great fanfare and left with people saying good riddance. Everything in between was disappointment after disappointment.

Still, the Cavaliers signed the former All-Star center as a free agent to pair with their young core.

Seeing him take the Wells Fargo Center floor would certainly bring out a reaction from Sixers fans. However, Bynum’s knees may not allow him to do that … again.

The Sixers will face New Orleans twice in November to make for a double holiday.

Jrue Holiday honed his skills in a Sixers jersey for the first four years of his career. He became an All-Star last season, leading the Sixers in scoring, assists and minutes played before eventually being traded to the Pelicans on draft night.

How will Holiday’s new cast impact his game? Will he reach another All-Star Game in the deeper Western Conference?

More importantly for the Sixers, how will they adapt with Holiday no longer at the controls. We’ll start getting a firm answer on that come November.

Give and Go: How much credit does Brett Brown deserve for Sixers' improvement?

Give and Go: How much credit does Brett Brown deserve for Sixers' improvement?

With the team at the All-Star break, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go are CSNPhilly.com producer/reporters Matt Haughton and Paul Hudrick.

In this edition, we analyze the job head coach Brett Brown has done this season.

Haughton
Brown's performance has already resulted in more wins than any other season under his leadership, but it continues to be a complex judgment.

He's still tied to an extremely young roster, which lends itself to the high number of turnovers, mistakes coming out of timeouts and defensive breakdowns. 

However, he has managed to get several players to show growth in their games and make sure the Sixers remain balanced even with Joel Embiid's emergence. That can also be attributed to Brown's emphasis on state of play and not state of pay.

He turned to T.J. McConnell ($874,636 salary) at starting point guard over Sergio Rodriguez ($8 million) because the second-year pro has proven to be a better fit and has routinely moved Gerald Henderson ($9 million) from starter to reserve.

Then of course, there has been Brown's handling of the Sixers' mashup at center. The coach has found each guy minutes when he can and, according to the players, been up front about all potential minutes and trade scenarios.

Perhaps Brown's finest job this season has come in a role he thought was over: team delegate. Once Sam Hinkie exited and Bryan Colangelo proclaimed he would be more open with information, Brown certainly had to think his days of standing in front of the media to explain every single thing going on with the franchise were over. Think again. 

Still, Brown's been there each day, answering just about every question thrown his way from injuries to trade rumors. If nothing else, he deserves to be commended for dealing with that ... again.

Hudrick
It's amazing what a few NBA-caliber players can do.

After accumulating a 47-199 record over his first three seasons, Brown has led the Sixers to a 21-35 mark so far this season. Sure, much of the credit for the team's success has to do with adding legitimate NBA talent (and a legitimate NBA star in Embiid). With that said, you're finally starting to see Brown's fingerprints on the Sixers.

A protégé of Gregg Popovich's with the Spurs, Brown preaches defense and ball movement. The Sixers' defense has been a catalyst for their success this season. As Brown says in his Bostralian accent, the defensive end is where the Sixers' "bread is buttered." 

With unselfish players with decent court vision like Dario Saric and Gerald Henderson added to the mix, the Sixers don't look like a total disaster in the half court. They're ninth in the NBA at 23.5 assists per game. They haven't finished higher than 15th in the league in any of Brown's three seasons. 

When you consider what Brown has gone through and how he's managed to keep everything positive, it's incredible. Hinkie pegged Brown as his guy, knowing that Brown was an excellent teacher and had the right attitude to deal with losing. You have to be encouraged by what you've seen out of Brown and the Sixers this season.

Joel Embiid practices fully but doubtful for Friday and Saturday

Joel Embiid practices fully but doubtful for Friday and Saturday

Joel Embiid was a full participant Wednesday during the Sixers' first practice back from the All-Star break, but he's listed as doubtful for their games Friday and Saturday.

The Sixers host the Wizards Friday night (7 ET/CSN) and face the Knicks Saturday night at Madison Square Garden (7:30 ET/CSN).

If Embiid misses both games it would be 13 in a row and 16 of 17.

Still, it's a good sign he was able to practice in full Wednesday.

Ben Simmons, meanwhile, has a CT scan scheduled for Thursday in New York. The appointment should show whether his foot has healed enough for him to take the next step in his rehab.

Simmons did individual work at Wednesday's practice.

CSN Philly's Jessica Camerato contributed to this report.