Philadelphia 76ers

Sixers-Rockets: 5 things you need to know

sixers-rockets-matchup.jpg

Sixers-Rockets: 5 things you need to know

The Sixers (15-56) will try to avoid matching the longest losing skid in NBA history when they finish their three-game road trip against the Houston Rockets (48-22).

Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. (CSN) at the Toyota Center.

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. History in the making
The Sixers' losing streak has produced some incredible numbers.

They've been outscored by 16.9 points a game, allowed 111 points a game and been held under 100 points 18 times.

Still, the only number that matters when the Sixers hit the floor on Thursday is one, as in they are just a single game away from tying the NBA record for consecutive losses with 26. The mark is currently held by the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers.

While the Sixers would certainly like to avoid that scenario and win for the first time since Jan. 29, it likely won't happen in Houston. The Rockets sit in fourth place in the supremely-competitive Western Conference and have won four games in a row, all against teams under .500.

2. Fear the beard
Dwight Howard might want all the attention, but the focus of the Rockets clearly revolves around James Harden.

Harden is fifth in the NBA in scoring with 24.9 points per game. The All-Star is also averaging 5.7 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. Plus, Harden connects on 36.9 percent of his shots from three-point range.

But don't confuse him for just a jump shooter. Harden lives in the lane with his patented Euro step. He averages 8.5 free throw attempts per game, fourth-highest in the entire league.

Harden missed the first game between these two teams earlier this season, a 123-117 overtime win on Nov. 13. However, he has recently been a matchup nightmare for the Sixers. The fifth-year guard averaged 31.0 points, 6.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds against them in the two meetings last season.

Whether he's knocking down jumpers with that lefty stroke or getting to the rim, Harden will pose a tough challenge for the Sixers on Thursday.

3. Duck and cover
Harden isn't the only player the Sixers have to worry about from beyond the arc.

The Rockets are a lethal team from three-point range. They attempt a league-high 26.1 shots from deep per game and are fifth in makes at 9.3.

The Sixers should know just how dangerous the Rockets are at hitting threes. They gave up 15 of them in this season's first matchup.

Thursday night won't be a situation when the Sixers can lock down the perimeter early and discourage their opponent from hoisting up treys. With the Rockets' habit of firing all night, the Sixers will need to pay heavy attention to their shooters.

4. Injuries
Tony Wroten (ankle) will miss his third straight game.

Nerlens Noel (knee) and Jason Richardson (knee) are out.

Howard knocked knees during practice on Wednesday, but the center will be fine to take the court against the Sixers.

Francisco Garcia missed the Rockets' last two games because of personal reasons.

5. This and that
• Despite the skid, the Sixers are somehow still ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks in the standings. The Bucks have the NBA's worst record at 13-58.

• While the Sixers have been outscored by 16.9 points per game during their skid, the 2010-11 Cavs were outscored by 13.7 points a night.

• The Rockets are shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 42.4 percent from three-point range during their four-game win streak.

• The Rockets haven't lost at home since Jan. 24, five days before the Sixers' last win.

• James Anderson led all scorers with 36 points during the season's first meeting between the teams.

Sixers to hold Blue-White Scrimmage at the Palestra on Oct. 1

Sixers to hold Blue-White Scrimmage at the Palestra on Oct. 1

If you’re a die-hard Process believer who can’t wait for the Sixers' preseason opener, you’ll have a chance to see the team in action three days prior, albeit in a scrimmage.

The Sixers announced Thursday that they will be holding a Blue-White Scrimmage on Oct. 1 at the Palestra from 1-3:30 p.m. Tickets will be free to the public.

“The building strongly represents the toughness and perseverance of the city of Philadelphia and of the 76ers organization,” coach Brett Brown said.

While Joel Embiid likely won't play in the scrimmage (see story), the event is a good opportunity to see No. 1 picks Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons. Fultz’s summer league campaign was cut short by a sprained left ankle.

The scrimmage is also an early chance to get a sense of what Brown’s rotation may look like this year, his fifth with the Sixers and first in non-tanking mode.

The preseason will begin at Wells Fargo Center on Oct. 4, against the Memphis Grizzlies. The first game of the regular season is on Oct. 18, a nationally televised contest vs. the Wizards in Washington, D.C.

Give and Go: What is the biggest challenge for Brett Brown this season?

Give and Go: What is the biggest challenge for Brett Brown this season?

With training camp starting next week, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

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

In this edition, we discuss the biggest challenge for head coach Brett Brown this season.

Camerato
For years Brett Brown has faced the challenge of piecing together a shorthanded roster to put some kind of, any kind of, rotation on the floor. This season he will have healthier players to work with, and that in itself will pose a different set of challenges.

Brown has a young roster that is eager to play. Former No. 1 pick Ben Simmons has been waiting nearly 12 months to make his NBA debut since suffering a Jones fracture on the last day of training camp. Markelle Fultz, this year’s top pick, has not played since mid-February as a student-athlete at Washington. Joel Embiid last suited up on Jan. 27 before undergoing season-ending knee surgery.

These hungry players, and it is not limited to only the three mentioned above, will want to be in the game as much as possible. Brown will be tasked with managing eagerness and anxiousness to play all while following medical guidelines and restrictions. Lineups could change from a night to night based on player availability (back-to-backs, rest, etc.). Brown will have to establish consistency and flexibility at the same time, also keeping his players on board even if they can’t be on the court as much as they would like to be.

Haughton
Brett Brown will face a whole new world as head coach of the Sixers in 2017-18. He’ll have to find a way to make a rookie backcourt work, mix contributing veterans into the fold and, for the first time in his tenure, face some semblance of pressure to win.

But Brown’s biggest obstacle next season has nothing to do with X’s and O’s or wins and losses. The coach must maintain the spirit of the process.

At first glance, you may think that has something to do with continuing to lose games for the highest possible draft pick. No, not at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

In Brown’s four years at the helm, the Sixers have lost a combined 253 games. Some close, some by a wide margin and far too many of the nightmarish variety.

But no matter the previous game’s score, Brown always had his players on the court for the next matchup ready to give their max effort. His ability to stay positive amid the mounting losses and still push his guys to play all out every single night is somewhat remarkable (see story). It’s what the players love about him the most.

The egos that go along with high-level talent and the pressure of playoff aspirations mean Brown is sure to encounter some new challenges. However, it may just be that process mentality that gets the Sixers fully over the process.

Hudrick
For the last four years, Brown has barely had enough healthy players to form an entire team. And even when he had healthy players, most of them were borderline D-Leaguers (now G-Leaguers, of course).

The blessing and the curse for Brown this season is having real, NBA talent up and down his roster.

Nerlens Noel is gone so the logjam at center is over, right? Nope. Embiid is your starting center and franchise cornerstone. Richaun Holmes proved last year that he is a capable backup at the pro level. Jahlil Okafor is still here and needs to prove he's healthy if the Sixers hope to move him. Oh yeah, the team also went out and signed veteran Amir Johnson away from the Celtics. The uncertainty behind Embiid's status means there will be minutes available, but how many? Bottom line: This team still has four NBA-caliber centers.

The newest challenge for Brown is an overabundance of guards/wings. With Fultz, JJ Redick and a now healthy Jerryd Bayless added to the mix, where does that leave T.J. McConnell, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Nik Stauskas, Justin Anderson and Furkan Korkmaz?

Sure, it's a nice problem to have, but figuring out the rotation on an improving roster will be the biggest challenge for Brett Brown this season.