MCW takes valuable lessons from Tony Parker

ap-mcwparker-slideshow.jpg

MCW takes valuable lessons from Tony Parker

Michael Carter-Williams was coming off the first poor performance of his rookie campaign. Against the Spurs, the rookie point guard was 2 for 11 from the floor and finished with eight points, four assists, three steals and three blocked shots.

Carter-Williams’ eight points was his first single-digit scoring output of the season.

The numbers were OK, but he had little impact on the game while his San Antonio counterpart controlled the show.

“There is a lot for me to take from that game, especially from Tony Parker,” Carter-Williams said. “He runs his team extremely well. I hope to run my team and know my teammates like he knows his someday. He knows where they are at all times. He knows where they are supposed to be. He knows where they like to shoot, and I hope one day to have a team and be on a team like that.”

The thing that Carter-Williams needs to remember is that Parker did not become the perennial All-Star he is overnight. Parker is in his 13th NBA season and has won three NBA championships.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown remembers watching a young Parker become a man among the best basketball players in the world during his days in the Spurs' organization.

“The history with Tony, I saw him at such a young age and I saw him grow,” Brown said. ”I think it is more important when you look at holistic things that you can share with Michael as it relates to Tony.”

When Brown refers to “holistic things” he is talking about taking care of the body and dealing with the likes of this week when the Sixers play four games in five nights.

Carter-Williams did not practice Tuesday because he was experiencing soreness in his left foot. He and Brown both said it was nothing serious, but resting seemed the right way to go with the schedule that is on the horizon.

MCW didn’t take the court Tuesday, but he still managed to work at his craft.

“He is very curious. He is very inquisitive,” Brown said of Carter-Williams. “He wants to know why. He wants to know how. How did Tony Parker do this? What is the best way to guard John Wall? He is always asking really good questions. You will notice he often comes back to the timeout just to make sure he understands what I have drawn, what I have said.

“From a professional standpoint, he is doing well. From a physical standpoint, he is learning how to get through it and take care of his body.”

So which has been the harder adjustment for Carter-Williams: Physical or mental?

“Tough question. Both have been pretty tough, but probably the mental aspect of it,” Carter-Williams said. “We had a little setback versus the Spurs, but I am staying positive and trying to keep working.

“It is a long season and a long grind, so I am just trying to take it one day at a time.”

The Sixers entertain the 5-3 Houston Rockets Wednesday night.

Ben Simmons healing on schedule; Joel Embiid out tonight; Jahlil Okafor downgraded

Ben Simmons healing on schedule; Joel Embiid out tonight; Jahlil Okafor downgraded

Ben Simmons had a planned foot scan Monday in New York and is progressing as expected.

Simmons suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot nearly four months ago, Sept. 30, and there is still no timetable for his NBA debut.

Okafor downgraded
Jahlil Okafor was limited at shootaround Tuesday and has been downgraded to questionable for tonight's game against the Clippers. He had been listed as probable on Monday.

Okafor is dealing with right knee soreness he experienced on Saturday. The Sixers kept an eye on him Monday and held him out of 5-on-5 drills in practice. Okafor said the team was being cautious, and he wanted to rest his knee given the number of games coming up.

"It was bothering me a little bit in the warmup lines, I started to feel it. When I got going, it started feeling really good, then when I sat out for an extended period, it got kind of sore on me again," Okafor said Monday.

Embiid out
Joel Embiid, dealing with a left knee contusion suffered in last Friday's win over Portland, is officially out tonight. He is also expected to miss Wednesday's game at Milwaukee before returning Friday vs. the Rockets.

Sixers-Clippers 5 things: Big men, minus Joel Embiid, in the spotlight

Sixers-Clippers 5 things: Big men, minus Joel Embiid, in the spotlight

The Sixers (15-27) on Tuesday night open their latest back-to-back set against the LA Clippers (30-16) at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m./CSN, CSNPhilly.com and streaming live on the NBC Sports app).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Missing in action
The Sixers are used to missing Joel Embiid for at least one game of back-to-back sets. However, they will have to forge ahead without him in both contests coming up on consecutive days.

Embiid will miss the Sixers' games on Tuesday and Wednesday after suffering a left knee contusion in the team's 93-92 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday. The matchups will mark three straight absences for the Eastern Conference Player of the Week after he was sidelined for the Sixers' blowout loss in Atlanta Saturday.

The Sixers haven't exactly been able to survive without Embiid's production this season. They are 2-10 minus the Rookie of the Year frontrunner and have allowed 106.5 points in those games.

Brett Brown challenged his team to perform better — particularly on defense — during this upcoming stint without Embiid.

“It’s still about our defense, it’s still about running, it’s still about sharing the ball,” Brown said after practice Monday. “I think you go with Jahlil (Okafor) and Nerlens (Noel) and challenge them in relation to rim protection and what Joel provides us. The group around them also has got to perform at a higher level when you don’t have Joel. I think that second group that we have been playing, led by Nerlens, really can take on a far greater defensive identity than it has recently, and Nerlens will be the captain of that.”

2. The Blake Show is back
While the Sixers will be without their star big man in Tuesday's tilt, the Clippers are expected to get one of theirs back.

Blake Griffin is likely to return to action against the Sixers after missing 18 games following right knee surgery.

Griffin was averaging 21.2 points and 8.8 rebounds this season as the Clippers jumped out to a 20-6 record. Griffin underwent an arthroscopic procedure to remove loose bodies from the knee on Dec. 19, and the Clips have recorded just a 10-8 mark since.

With fellow superstar Chris Paul sidelined with an injured thumb, getting the five-time All-Star Griffin back should be a major boost for the Clippers.

3. Take care
The Clippers may not be the force they once were in the open court (15th in the NBA with 12.7 fastbreak points per game this season), but that doesn't mean they still can't revert to their Lob City ways in the blink of an eye.

That could be the case on Tuesday if the Sixers continue to turn the ball over at such an alarming rate.

The Sixers, last in the league with 17.1 turnovers per game, have somehow been even worse during this recent string of success. They have committed 19.4 turnovers a night over the last five games and 17.8 during the last 10 contests.

The Sixers have been able to survive thanks to their active defense creating opportunities on offense and some clutch shooting. However, with Embiid sidelined and facing a Clippers team that ranks in the top five in field-goal and three-point percentage, those miscues may come back to haunt the Sixers.

4. Injuries
Okafor (knee) is questionable. Embiid (knee), Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

Griffin (knee) is probable. Paul (thumb) and Brice Johnson (back) are out for the Clippers.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost nine straight games to the Clippers.

• Ersan Ilyasova is averaging 17.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game during January.

• DeAndre Jordan has averaged a double-double of 11.3 points and 12.8 rebounds against the Sixers in his career.