Sluggish Sixers struggle in rout to Cavs

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Sluggish Sixers struggle in rout to Cavs

BOX SCORE

CLEVELAND — Sixers coach Brett Brown has a simple formula his team needs to follow in order to stay in games: His three veterans need to have a big night and the bench needs to perform admirably in relief.

The Sixers got the latter Tuesday night in Cleveland, but the three veterans looked like players who were playing their fifth game in seven days. It added up to a 111-93 loss to the Cavaliers (see Instant Replay), the second loss in as many days for the Sixers (12-23).

“We need our big three firing,” Brown said. “We need a bench that’s playing B, B-plus games in order to be in anything competitive. That’s the reality of our roster.”

The big three -- Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young -- combined for just 13 points. All three played limited minutes, and Young was held scoreless for the first time since 2011. He finished 0 for 7 from the floor in 21 minutes.

The Cavs, meanwhile, looked like a team that just got a new shot of life playing hours after acquiring Luol Deng from the Bulls in a trade that sent Andrew Bynum to Chicago. Deng wasn’t with the team Tuesday, but if he watched any portion of the game, he had to have liked what he saw from his new teammates.

Anderson Varejao (18 points, 14 rebounds) and Tristan Thompson (12 points, 10 rebounds) each had double-doubles. Kyrie Irving had 16 points and eight assists playing for the first time in three games.

C.J. Miles scored a game-high 34 points, making a career-high and franchise record 10 three-pointers. The Cavs as a team shot 13 for 28 from deep, as the Sixers fell victim to the poor perimeter defense that plagued them prior to their West Coast trip.

“You give him credit,” Brown said of Miles. “You most definitely give him credit. As a young team, when somebody is rolling like that, you have to be aware of where he is every second. There’s a tiny bit of that that’s on us. You have to show a level of desperation.”

It was evident the Sixers didn’t have the energy to be desperate Tuesday. Reluctant to pin Monday’s loss to Minnesota on fatigue, Brown admitted Tuesday that perhaps his team just didn’t have anything left.

“I have no idea about the team I just saw the last two nights,” Brown said. “The fatigue must have played a far greater factor than I anticipated. The team that came back from the West Coast in relation to what I have seen the last two nights from an energy standpoint is night and day.”

Aside from rookie Michael Carter-Williams, who finished with a career-high 33 points to go along six rebounds, five assists and just one turnover, the Sixers' starters lacked the stamina to stay with the Cavs.

A 14-3 Cleveland run midway through the first quarter was enough to put the Sixers away. The Cavs led by 23 at the half and the lead grew to as much as 31 in the fourth quarter.

“It’s just one of those games where you couldn’t get anything going,” Young said. “Just want to get this one pretty much behind me and move on to the next one. I think as a team we just didn’t play well.”

If the Sixers can find another bright spot outside of Carter-Williams, it might be the play of their bench. The Sixers' bench outscored the Cavs, 43-29. James Anderson (15 points), Brandon Davies (11 points) and Lorenzo Brown (12 points) provided double digits off the bench.

Other than that, it was the kind of lethargic effort that they’d just as soon forget.

“The road trip kind of caught up to us a little bit,” Young said. “It’s been tough on us the last couple weeks.”

Luckily for the Sixers, they get an off day Wednesday before preparing to host Detroit Friday.

“Yes, I do (welcome the off day),” Hawes said. “With open arms.”

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).