Sixers-Bobcats: 5 things you need to know

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Sixers-Bobcats: 5 things you need to know

The Sixers (7-12) will look to end their struggles on the road when they travel to face the Charlotte Bobcats (8-11).

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. (CSN) at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Missing the young guns
The Sixers will be without one of their most potent weapons when they take the court on Friday night.

Michael Carter-Williams did not make the trip with the team and will miss the game because of a sore right knee. The rookie point guard suffered the injury during the Sixers' loss to the Detroit Pistons last Sunday.

Carter-Williams' absence will certainly create a void on the stat sheet. He is coming off his first career triple-double in Tuesday's 126-125 win over the Orlando Magic in double overtime. MCW is averaging 17.7 points, 7.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game so far this season.

The Sixers won't be the only one missing a young playmaker. The Bobcats won't have second-year forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who suffered a fractured left hand on Tuesday against the Dallas Mavericks and will miss four to six weeks.

Kidd-Gilchrist is averaging 9.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game this season while shooting 50 percent from the field.

2. Road to nowhere
Things started off beautifully for the Sixers on the road this season. They rallied from down double-digits to pull off a comeback win in Washington for their second victory of the season.

Since that point, things have been all downhill for the Sixers away from home. They've lost seven straight road games with four of those defeats coming by double digits.

Breaking that skid won't necessarily be easy against the Bobcats. They are 4-6 at home this year and sit just above the Sixers in the Eastern Conference standings.

3. Opposites attract
Friday night's matchup will feature a battle of two complete opposites once the teams take the court.

The Sixers play at the NBA's highest pace (102.5 possessions per 48 minutes) and are sixth in points (104.2 points per game). That up-tempo style has also cost them on the defense end, as they allow the most points in the league at 110.8 points a night.

The Bobcats are anything but explosive in their approach on the floor. They rank 27th in pace (94.6 possessions per 48 minutes), are dead last in points per game with (88.8) and have scored 100 points just once this season.

4. Injuries
Carter-Williams (knee) is out for Friday. He is officially listed as day to day.

Nerlens Noel (knee), Arnett Moultrie (ankle) and Jason Richardson (knee) are all out.

Kidd-Gilchrist (hand) and Brendan Haywood (foot) are out for the Bobcats.

5. This and that
• The Sixers' four overtime games are tied with Washington for the most in the NBA.

• The Bobcats have averaged 85 points per game in their last seven meetings against the Sixers.

• The Bobcats are last in the NBA in field-goal percentage (40.9) and three-point percentage (29.4).

NBA Playoffs: Warriors sweep their way to 3rd straight NBA Finals

NBA Playoffs: Warriors sweep their way to 3rd straight NBA Finals

BOX SCORE

SAN ANTONIO -- Stephen Curry scored 36 points as the Golden State Warriors closed out the Western Conference Final against the injury-ravaged San Antonio Spurs with a 129-115 victory Monday night, becoming the first team in league history to start the playoffs 12-0.

Golden State led by as many as 22 points in cruising to its third straight NBA Finals. The Warriors await a possible third straight championship matchup with Cleveland, which leads Boston 2-1 in the East finals.

"It's great to be one of the last two teams standing, we'll see how it goes," said Kevin Durant, who had 29 points and 12 rebounds.

San Antonio's only lead came on the opening possession when Manu Ginobili tossed in a left-handed scoop shot. The Spurs started Ginobili in what could be his final game with the team. The 39-year-old had maintained he will not ponder whether to retire or return until after the season.

Unsure if the beloved veteran will return, the crowd serenaded Ginobili with "Manu, Manu" chants as the game came to a close.

"An amazing competitor, even more fun playing against him," Durant said of Ginobili. "He was phenomenal this series."

Kyle Anderson scored 20 points to lead the Spurs, who were without Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker and David Lee. San Antonio didn't go down without a fight despite the injuries.

Anderson dove on the court for a loose ball that the Spurs had tipped away defensively, pushing the ball upcourt to Patty Mills who fed Ginobili for a 3-pointer that pulled San Antonio to 108-94 with 7 minutes remaining.

The effort made Spurs coach Gregg Popovich smile and clap at times, but the Warriors' depth and talent proved too much for short-handed San Antonio.

Golden State shot 56 percent and were 14 for 39 on 3-pointers.

Draymond Green had 16 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Warriors.

Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge closed out a disappointing series with his second eight-point effort against the Warriors.

Ginobili finished with 15 points in 32 minutes.

The case for Duke's Jayson Tatum to the Sixers at No. 3

The case for Duke's Jayson Tatum to the Sixers at No. 3

With the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery behind us, there appears to be a consensus on the first two selections in next month's draft. The Celtics are expected to take Washington guard Markelle Fultz, and it would be a surprise if the Lakers passed on Lonzo Ball.

After that, all bets are off, and the Sixers will have plenty of options at pick No. 3.

A popular choice has been Kansas' Josh Jackson, and with good reason. The 6-foot-8 guard was an All-Big 12 first-team selection in his lone season with the Jayhawks, averaging 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.

Others have pointed to Kentucky sharpshooter Malik Monk, who would fill an obvious need. Monk consistently has shown the ability to pull up without hesitation. He shot nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc while averaging 19.8 points per game to lead the Wildcats.

There is a strong case to be made, however, that Duke forward Jayson Tatum will be the most talented player remaining on the board when it is the Sixers' turn to pick. 

As a basketball beat writer for The Duke Chronicle, I had the opportunity to watch Tatum play up close and in-person for much of the season, seeing him at his best and his worst.

A quick rise
After coming to Durham, North Carolina as one of the key pieces of the Blue Devils' top-ranked recruiting class, Tatum suffered a left foot sprain during a preseason practice that kept him out of action until early December. 

But even with what appeared to be a breakout performance against then-No. 24 Florida in early December, he struggled to find a rhythm throughout the first half of the season. Tatum shot only 30 percent from three-point range in his first 13 games.

When the Blue Devils were shocked at home by ACC bottom-feeder NC State Jan. 23, I was quick to call out the first-year player — he was not cutting it on the defensive end, and offensively, Tatum had yet to prove himself as a consistent shooting threat.

Down the stretch, however, no freshman came on stronger than Tatum. He scored 28 points on 6 of 7 shooting from distance against Virginia in February, averaged 22 points in four ACC Tournament wins in March, and notched a double-double in his first career NCAA Tournament game.

Whatever questions scouts have about Tatum's potential, he has already shown an ability to develop in a short period of time. Even if Tatum takes time to develop as an NBA player, it probably won't take all that long as the Sixers continue their rebuild.

Cool customer
In a deep ACC, Tatum was one of just two first-year players to earn all-conference honors, picking up a third-team spot in early March. He was also second in ACC Freshman of the Year voting behind NC State's Dennis Smith.

Tatum was a consistent performer at the charity stripe — unlike Jackson, who shot just 56.6 percent from the line. Tatum hit on 118 of 139 free throw attempts (84.9 percent) and has the body to get to the line at will with strong drives to the rim.

Although the Sixers have budding stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, they lack a true end-of-game threat who can score both inside and out. Tatum's improving outside shot combined with a powerful inside game could give the Sixers an option that will stretch opposing defenses.

Defensive concerns
As has been the case with a few recent young Duke prospects (e.g. Brandon Ingram, Jabari Parker), Tatum at times struggled on defense. As Sixers fans know all too well, Jahlil Okafor has the same problem. The former Blue Devil standout led Duke in scoring during his lone collegiate season but wasn't a major factor on defense and has been even worse with the Sixers, ranking 324th of 486 NBA players in defensive win shares last season.

Tatum's numbers suggest he has potential to be a better defender than many might expect. According to Basketball-Reference.com, Tatum had a 3.2 block percentage and a 2.3 steal percentage — an uncommon combination. He helped Duke limit North Carolina's Justin Jackson to only 6 for 22 shooting in an ACC Tournament semifinal matchup.

Where Tatum needs to grow is guarding away from the ball. He often found himself losing his man on back cuts and long possessions in the half court.

With the Sixers, the 6-foot-8 Tatum potentially could be the shortest member of a lineup that would feature the 6-foot-9 Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Simmons at 6-foot-10, and the 7-foot Embiid in the middle. Although he will likely need to improve his quickness, Tatum has the size to overwhelm smaller guards and the strength — weighing in at 205 pounds — to match up with most small forwards in the league.

Tatum vs. Jackson
Tatum and Jackson are comparable players in most respects. The two were right next to one another in the ESPN's Class of 2016 rankings behind Harry Giles and put up nearly identical numbers on the offensive end.

Both are considered top-five picks, but the 19-year-old Tatum is younger by more than a year and has room to grow physically. And unlike Jackson, he does not carry the baggage of a criminal property damage misdemeanor from December.

Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel told 97.5 The Fanatic last week that Tatum is "one of the most talented, most gifted offensive guys" he has ever seen. 

Agreed.