MCW practices again, says he's 'ready to go'

slideshow-sixers-michael-carterwilliams-ap.jpg

MCW practices again, says he's 'ready to go'

Michael Carter-Williams is the most attractive piece of the Sixers’ current puzzle.

His play excites fans and gives them reason to believe a bright future will one day replace this 7-19 state.

Carter-Williams has had two straight practices after dealing with a right knee infection.

With the Nets coming to town on Friday night, will the rookie point guard be in the Sixers’ starting lineup for the first time since Dec. 3?

“He is definitely not definitely,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said, getting a chuckle out of the assembled media. “Nobody is making a 100 percent commitment to him playing. We think he is. He has practiced well, so we assume he will be in the lineup.”

“I have had two good practices,” Carter-Williams said. “I felt good. I was shooting after, so I am ready to go.”

Carter-Williams, who has missed the last seven contests, is officially a game-time decision. However, there is plenty of optimism surrounding his status.

MCW certainly spoke like a man that intends to play. He was aware of the Sixers’ scouting report for Friday’s game against Brooklyn, which had plenty to do with slowing down the Nets’ backcourt duo of Joe Johnson and Deron Williams.

“We can’t let Joe get off early. We can’t let him get in a rhythm,” Carter-Williams said of Johnson, who scored a season-high 37 points against the Sixers on Monday. “We have to make him take tough shots and stay down on Deron and keep him in front. They are tough, tough guards and they are going to be a challenge for us, but we are going to go out there and be aggressive.”

Carter-Williams is not pain free. He said the pain in his knee is a one or a two on the scale of 1 to 10.

Carter-Williams is prepared to deal with some soreness when he gets back out on the court and his coach is ready to see some rust.

“We will be smart, but he will play,” Brown said. “We are not going to wrap him up. We will be smart with it and inch him along. There are going to be some growing pains getting him back in the mix, but we are not going to be too restrictive.

“He is not that precious. He’ll be fine. He’ll get through, it but we will be smart. We are going to have to bite our lip.”

Carter-Williams missed four games earlier in the season with a bruised arch in his foot. When he returned to the court from that injury, he shot just 2 of 10 for 10 points to go along with six rebounds, six assists and six turnovers.

“That was my first time coming back from an injury and this is my second time,” Carter-Williams said. “I am looking to adjust to it and that I am not as rusty as the first time I came back.”

Rusty or not, Brown is just excited to get his floor general back.

“I am thrilled that he is back,” he said. “I am thrilled that he is with me and I am glad that he is a Philadelphia 76er, 22-year-old, rookie point guard.”

Sixers Mailbag: Joel Embiid's return, signing Kyle Lowry?

Sixers Mailbag: Joel Embiid's return, signing Kyle Lowry?

This week I tweeted asking for questions for a Sixers mailbag, and the replies came pouring in. (Thanks, everyone!)

So we changed it up and in addition to answering the questions in these articles, we also discussed some of the topics on PST Extra. Read below and watch the video for the responses.

If you tweeted a question with #CSNSixersMailbag and don't see it on here, there will be plenty more answered leading up to the draft and free agency.

Both players are planning to return to the court during the offseason.

Joel Embiid recently said he intends to be ready for opening night and to play all 82 games next season. That would mean he has a lot of work to do before then. Embiid, who underwent knee surgery in March, has been pleased with his rehab and is scheduled for another scan. He has not been jumping and plans to be cleared for 5-on-5 this summer.

"Every day I go in and do some rehab on my knee, on my whole body basically," Embiid said last week at the draft lottery. "Then [I] get on the court, shoot a little bit flat-footed, and then lift. After lifting, I go in the pool and [on the] treadmill and then start running in the pool. Usually, I'm there for about four, five hours every day."

Covington underwent surgery for a right meniscus tear in mid-April. He actually began his rehab before the procedure, which doctors told him could cut down on his recovery time. Following the surgery, the Sixers announced Covington was expected to "resume basketball activities" this summer.

Training camp is still months away. The players will be closely watched during that period before their availability and minutes are determined for the start of the season.

Rye.

And for the non-question, I'll give that a reply too. I see this point of view: draft a young small forward and bring in an experienced guard. I could envision an opposite scenario, though.

The Sixers could bolster their perimeter play through free agency or a trade. They lacked depth at small forward last season. A player with years on his résumé could fill that void faster than a rookie who will need time to develop into an NBA player.

As for Lowry, there's no question he can improve any NBA team. As I noted a few weeks ago, he is at a different stage in his career than the Sixers are in their progress. The Sixers also have Jerryd Bayless on the books to provide that veteran leadership to Ben Simmons as he learns how to play the one spot.

If I had to go with adding experience at one position or the other, I'd lean toward small forward over point guard.

NBA Notes: Cavs-Warriors III joins past championship trilogies

NBA Notes: Cavs-Warriors III joins past championship trilogies

It never happened between Magic Johnson's Lakers and Larry Bird's Celtics. Same for Michael Jordan and Karl Malone or Jerry West and Bill Russell.

While there have been 14 rematches in NBA Finals history, this year's meeting between LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers and Stephen Curry's Golden State Warriors will be the first trilogy in league history.

After the Warriors beat the Cavs for their first title in 40 years in 2015, Cleveland got revenge last season with a comeback from 3-1 down to give the city its first major championship since 1964. Now they meet for the rubber match starting June 1 in Oakland.

While this may be unprecedented in the NBA, it has happened once before in the NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball with matchups that included some of those sports' biggest stars.

There was Babe Ruth vs. Frankie Frisch in the 1920s and then a pair of memorable three-peat matchups in the 1950s featuring Otto Graham against Bobby Layne in the NFL and Gordie Howe against Maurice Richard in the NHL.

Warriors: Durant once team’s 2nd choice
Truth be told, Golden State's former coach wasn't sure the Warriors needed Kevin Durant.

The Warriors were already small-ball sensations, capable of piling up the points with their daring drives and sizzling shooting. So rather than add another scorer, Don Nelson figured Golden State might be better off getting a dominant man in the middle to shore up the defense in the 2007 NBA draft.

Nelson thought the Warriors needed Greg Oden.

That was 10 years ago, leading up to the heavily hyped draft in which the Oden-Durant debate raged throughout basketball. And now, as Durant leads the league's most potent team into the NBA Finals while Oden is long gone from the NBA spotlight, it's easy to forget that a lot of people agreed with Nelson.

"I think everyone felt that there were two players there that were going to be prominent players, but one thing you can't count on is injuries," Warriors executive Jerry West said. "So Greg really never had a chance to have a career, where Kevin's obviously been more than advertised."

Celtics: Thomas unsure if he’ll need surgery
Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas wanted to keep playing in the Eastern Conference finals, but team doctors and officials convinced him he needed to shut down his season for his long-term health.

"They had multiple people come in and talk to me about what's more important," Thomas said Friday, a day after the Celtics were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers. "But I definitely wasn't trying to hear that at that point in time."

Thomas injured the hip in March and aggravated it in the second-round series against Washington. He played three halves against the Cavaliers before limping off the court in the middle of Game 2.

The Celtics lost that game by 44 points to fall behind 0-2 in the best-of-seven series, then announced the next day that Thomas was done for the season. Still, they beat the Cavaliers in Cleveland the next game before falling easily in Games 4 and 5.

"Eastern Conference finals, that's the biggest stage I've ever been on," Thomas said at the team's practice facility in Waltham, Massachusetts. "To not be able to go back out there in that second half and continue that series was painful. Like it hurt me."

Speaking for the first time since the end of his season, Thomas said he might need surgery but it's "not the No. 1 option right now." He will have to wait for more tests until the swelling goes down, he said (see full story).