Philadelphia 76ers

Sixers-Wizards: 5 things you need to know

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Sixers-Wizards: 5 things you need to know

With the winning streak gone, the 3-1 Sixers will look to bounce back on Wednesday night against the 0-3 Washington Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center.

This game could be a little tricky for the Sixers. Last Friday, the Sixers rallied from a 14-point deficit in the third quarter to beat the Wizards, 109-102, in Washington’s home opener. The Sixers also withstood a first-half barrage from John Wall only to shut him down in the second half. They also faced the Wizards without veteran big man Nene, who hasn’t played since the season opener.

Here are a few storylines to keep an eye on for Wednesday night’s game:

1. MCW vs. John Wall, Part II
It was a tale of two halves last Friday for the speedy Wall. In the first half, Wall hit his first seven shots, hit 9 of 13 and had 23 points. In the second half, Wall shot 1 for 6 and had just three points.

What happened?

“We built a wall in front of him and he took a lot of shots to get going,” Sixers’ leading scorer Evan Turner said after Friday’s game. “Sometimes you use them all up. That’s pretty much it.”

Wall’s strength is his ability to get past the defense in transition. When the Sixers forced the Wizards to slow down and play a half-court offense, the shots stopped falling. Meanwhile, rookie Michael Carter-Williams was slowed by the Wizards’ defense. He had a solid performance with 14 points and five assists, but really excelled in running the Sixers’ offense.

What will round two bring?

2. Scoring in the paint
The Sixers scored an amazing 74 points in the paint last Friday. They also got 20 fast-break points, 18 second-chance points and nine offensive rebounds. Thad Young led all scorers with 29 points on 20 shots -- with just two outside of the paint.

Turner, who scored 23 points on 18 shots, made just two of them from outside of the paint and attempted just three shots longer than 14 feet.

That sums it up. The Sixers attack and run, and because of that they were able to wear down the bigger Wizards.

“We want to attack and attack. We want to get to the rim,” coach Brett Brown said after the game. “It’s not all about firing up threes, because if you look at our three-point shooting percentage, you say, ‘Oh, they’re 6 for 23 and they only shot 14 free throws and made seven. How do you win a game like that?’ So we did a good job continuing to run, and I was especially proud that they were able to run late in the game.”

The Sixers pulled off the same feat in rallying from down 20 against the Bulls on Saturday. Big teams like the Wizards and Bulls have had a difficult time keeping up with the Sixers late in games.

Expect the Sixers to try and wear down the Wizards again on Wednesday.

3. Turner’s zone
Turner is averaging a career-best 21.8 points through the early going, shooting a robust 52.3 percent from the field while converting on 19 of his 22 free throw attempts. He is second in the NBA in field goals, field goal attempts and has cracked the top 15 in league scoring average after four games.

Not a bad start for Turner.

Interestingly, Turner has found his hot spots on the floor. Of the 65 shots he has attempted this season, 51 have come from 15 feet and in. On those shots, Turner is shooting 65 percent (33 for 51).

But on shots longer than 15 feet, Turner is 1 for 14 this season, including 0 for 7 on three-pointers. That made shot was a 16-footer in the season opener against the Heat.

4. Battle of TOs
The Sixers turned it over 19 times last Friday in Washington, which led to 26 points. They committed 24 turnovers in the blowout loss to the Warriors on Monday night and have fought bouts of sloppiness throughout the exhibition and regular season.

It’s early, but the Sixers are third in the league with 76 turnovers (19 per game). They also have forced 77 turnovers, which is third-best in the league, which exemplifies the up-tempo pace.

5. This and that
• Turner has appeared in 139 consecutive regular-season games and has missed just four games in his four-year career. The last time Turner missed a game was Jan. 16, 2012, against Milwaukee when he had a quadriceps bruise.

• Along those lines, Spencer Hawes has appeared in 108 straight games. This comes after he missed 29 of 34 games with injuries during the 2011-12 season.

• The Wizards followed the loss to the Sixers with a 10-point loss to the Heat on Sunday. Bradley Beal scored 19 points to lead Washington, but shot just 6 for 14. The second-year guard is shooting 32 percent (16 for 50) this season, which underscores the Wizards’ early-season woes.

• Jan Vesely, selected with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2011 draft, has not appeared in a game this season. The 7-footer is healthy, but seems to be residing deep in coach Randy Wittman’s doghouse.

• Wittman was fined $20,000 after the game against the Sixers for cursing during the postgame press conference.

After the game, Wittman was asked about the loss and to explain what he thought was the problem.

Wittman said: “Well, you tell me what you think the problem is? You watched the game. Commitment to [expletive] playing defense. That’s what it is. That’s what it boils down to.”

NBA Notes: Bulls bring back Doug Collins as special adviser

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NBA Notes: Bulls bring back Doug Collins as special adviser

CHICAGO -- Doug Collins has returned to the Chicago Bulls. Just not on the sideline this time around.

The rebuilding Bulls hired Collins on Tuesday to serve senior adviser of basketball operations, providing "an expert resource" for the front office and coaching staff.

Collins will report directly to executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson. General manager Gar Forman and coach Fred Hoiberg remain in their jobs.

"Doug will not be coaching," Paxson said. "Doug will not be a decision maker. None of the roles have changed."

While no one is getting fired at this point, Collins becomes another set of eyes for an organization that finally committed to a full rebuild after taking a patchwork approach in recent years (see full story).

Pelicans: Cunningham agrees to contract
A person familiar with the situation says the New Orleans Pelicans and forward Dante Cunningham have agreed on a one-year contract worth $2.3 million.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the agreement, which was first reported by Yahoo, has not been announced.

The 6-foot-8 Cunningham spent the past three seasons in New Orleans, where he averaged 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in about 25 minutes per game last season.

The 30-year-old Cunningham has spent eight seasons in the NBA, beginning with Portland, which selected him in the second round of the 2009 draft out of Villanova.

Cunningham could start for New Orleans at small forward in a lineup that would feature DeMarcus Cousins at center, Anthony Davis at power forward, Rajon Rondo at point guard and Jrue Holiday at shooting guard.

Heat: Dragic retiring from Slovenia team
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia -- NBA guard Goran Dragic has confirmed he is retiring from the Slovenia team that won the European basketball championship.

Dragic says on Tuesday, "I achieved what I wanted, the gold medal, and this is the right time to bid farewell."

The 31-year-old Dragic led Slovenia with 35 points to beat Serbia 93-85 in the final on Sunday in Istanbul, earning the MVP award.

He says Slovenia's qualifying campaign for the 2019 world championship will start in November, and it would be impossible for him to play due to his professional duties with the Miami Heat in the NBA.

Tens of thousands of jubilant Slovenes greeted the new European champions on Monday in the capital of Ljubljana.

Give and Go: Who will be the Sixers' sixth man?

Give and Go: Who will be the Sixers' sixth man?

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 who should be the Sixers' sixth man going into the 2017-18 season.

Camerato
This role has become a hot topic since the Sixers finally have the pieces to put together a consistent starting five and establish a go-to sixth man. This summer I wrote an article on the starting lineup in which I projected Robert Covington to start and Dario Saric to come off the bench as the sixth man. The Sixers need Covington’s defensive presence at small forward and Ben Simmons likely will start at power forward while running the floor. Not every reader agreed in the comments section and the Saric-as-a-starter sentiment was echoed on social media. 

I still see Saric as the best fit for sixth man. This role is often filled by a starting-caliber player. Saric had 36 starts as a rookie, including all 25 games in which he played after the All-Star Break. Brett Brown wants the Sixers’ sixth man to be on the court to end games. Saric averaged more minutes (7.1) in the fourth than any other quarter last season. 

The key would be getting Saric to buy in to being the sixth man. Saric worked his entire career to be the best player he could be. He is his own toughest critic and became visibly disappointed when he had letdowns last season. There is a shift in mindset going from a starter to the first player off the bench. Saric can thrive in this role, but first he has to embrace it and not looking at it as a demotion. The sixth man can be just as valuable, if not more, than a starter. 

Haughton
With a widely projected starting lineup of Joel Embiid, Robert Covington, JJ Redick, Markelle Fultz and Simmons, the Sixers’ sixth man would appear to be a lock as Dario Saric. After all, Saric is a strong all-around player and coming off an impressive rookie season.

However, that starting five may force Brett Brown to go in a different direction with his first man off the bench.

Sure, Brown’s opening group may have a lot of firepower, but it lacks a necessity of legitimate NBA teams: a proven floor general. With Fultz and Simmons in the backcourt, the Sixers have two players that have yet to take part in an NBA regular-season game. They also will be trying to adjust to playing off the ball (Fultz) and running the team as a full-time point guard (Simmons).

That’s why I believe Brown may opt to go with Jerryd Bayless as his first reserve to combat the expected growing pains of his rookie backcourt. Bayless didn’t exactly wow Sixers fans by playing in just three contests a season ago because of torn ligaments in his wrist, but the veteran still has 513 career games under his belt (29 in the postseason) and knows how to play both guard positions.

It may not be the preferred pick, but Bayless may be the necessary choice as sixth man if the Sixers hope to achieve their goals in the upcoming campaign.

Hudrick
I know it doesn't please some Sixers fans that Saric seems destined to come off the bench, but really, it's a great sign.

Saric has proven to be a good NBA player after a strong rookie campaign, but think about it. This roster suddenly has talent. People are getting giddy and talking playoffs. Do you know what playoff teams have? Good players coming off the bench. It's not a knock on Saric as much as it's a testament to how talented this roster has become.

I will say that Matt's idea of using Bayless as the team's sixth man is interesting. Brown puts such a heavy emphasis on the point guard position. He's referred to it as the hardest position to play in the NBA. And now he's turning the keys over to a 6-foot-10 player that's never truly played the position. 

In the end, I'm going Saric. He should come in and dominate most team's second units offensively. Plus his grit and energy are perfect for the role. The Sixers just have to hope he embraces it.