Philadelphia 76ers

Tonight in NBA: Nets try to extend streak

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Tonight in NBA: Nets try to extend streak

Behind the type of leadership Doug Collins wanted out of Thad Young, Jrue Holiday and Jason Richardson, the Sixers downed the Rockets, 107-100, to end their five-game losing streak (see story).

Meanwhile, Philly native Marcus Morris is finally getting his opportunity to display his skills on the professional level with the Houston Rockets (see story).

Here's a look at some of Sunday's NBA action:

Pacers at Nets, 6 p.m.
Despite dealing with a coaching change, the Brooklyn Nets are in the midst of a strong stretch.

To win six straight games for the first time in nearly seven years, they'll have to end Indiana's own four-game streak on Sunday in Brooklyn.

Making things tougher, the Nets (21-15) might be without Deron Williams, who is the team's second-leading scorer at 16.7 points per game, after he suffered a thigh contusion in Friday's 99-79 win over Phoenix.

That victory marked Brooklyn's third straight by 20 or more points, the first time the franchise has accomplished that in its NBA history. The Nets are 7-1 since firing Avery Johnson and naming P.J. Carlesimo interim coach on Dec. 27. They had lost five of six before letting Johnson go.

Timberwolves at Spurs, 7 p.m.
After failing to break out of their road funk despite Tony Parker's heroics, the San Antonio Spurs look to continue their dominance at home.

The Spurs appear primed to get back in the win column and capture their 12th straight home victory Sunday night when they meet the slumping Minnesota Timberwolves.

San Antonio has won 15 straight home games in the series by an average of 12.9 points and haven't lost to a visiting Minnesota team since the Kevin Garnett era in 2003-04.

While they've dropped seven of nine on the road following a 101-98 overtime loss at Memphis on Friday night, the Spurs are riding their longest home winning streak since a franchise-record, 22-game run Dec. 3, 2010-March 4, 2011. Sunday's game is the first of three straight and seven of 10 at home.

Thunder at Trail Blazers, 9 p.m.
Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder have taken their high-scoring act on the road, where they'll mostly spend the rest of January.

The Portland Trail Blazers, though, have been pretty stingy at home recently.

Oklahoma City looks to end Portland's nine-game home winning streak by earning a fifth straight victory in the series Sunday night.

The Thunder (28-8) rank near the top of the league averaging 105.7 points and improved to 23-0 when scoring more than 100 with Friday's 116-101 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Give and Go: Our predictions for the Sixers this season

Give and Go: Our predictions for the Sixers 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 our predictions for the Sixers going into the 2017-18 season.

Camerato
My prediction for the 2017-18 season has to do with an issue nagging the Sixers for years now. I expect the team to figure out the frontcourt logjam and establish more clearly-defined rotations.

The utilization of the bigs has not been consistent. Joel Embiid started when healthy. Jahlil Okafor started when Embiid was unavailable and was benched other times. Richaun Holmes’ season was a mix of starts, DNPs and G League appearances. And (there’s more), Nerlens Noel was on the roster up until the trade deadline. 

How much longer will this overcrowding at the five spot last? The situation is a bit tricky because of Embiid’s health. He has not been cleared for 5-on-5 and it remains to be seen how many games and minutes he will play. Okafor, in that case, has been the go-to fill-in starter. The Sixers remain open to trading Okafor. The current situation isn’t, and hasn’t been, beneficial for either team or player. 

Holmes’ improvements should not be ignored this season just because he had accepted that backup-to-the-backup role. He made a strong case to become the backup center last season and the Sixers should give him the opportunity. 

The Sixers also will have to address the shooting guard position, where they are stacked since the addition of J.J. Redick, who will see major minutes. Markelle Fultz, a point guard, also will play at the two spot. So what will that mean for Nik Stauskas or Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot? (Furkan Korkmaz is expected to spend time in the G League.) 

In enhancing their team this offseason, the Sixers now have to become a more balanced roster. My prediction is they will make moves to accomplish that.

Haughton
By now you’ve heard just about every prediction for the Sixers. So what’s one more?

The talk this summer has been about the Sixers finally getting through “the process” and reaching the postseason. Both current and former Sixers have guaranteed a playoff berth.

While I tend to agree, I also know it won’t be as easy as they are making it seem.

The Sixers are loaded with talent and potential. Neither of those qualities actually guarantee wins. Just ask the 2016-17 Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Sixers will have to incorporate several new key players and adopt an entirely different mindset of expecting to win instead of hoping to come out on top each night.

Then there’s the competition. The Eastern Conference remains top heavy with the best four squads likely still holding firm (Cleveland, Boston, Toronto, Washington).

After that, things get a little more wide open. Three of the bottom four seeds from last season’s playoff participants in the East lost their best players either to free agency or via trade (Atlanta: Paul Millsap, Indiana: Paul George and Chicago: Jimmy Butler).

That should definitely clear up some room for the Sixers to make a push for one of those back-end playoff spots, but don’t expect them to jump from the basement to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Hudrick
My prediction for the Sixers, much like everyone else's, is that they'll make the playoffs.

There is a caveat, however. If they don't make the playoffs, it's not the end of the world.

The Cavaliers and Celtics are the class of the East. And really it's not very close. After them, the second tier is the Raptors and Wizards. After that it gets a little murky. Given the landscape of the Eastern Conference it's certainly realistic to say the Sixers could make the playoffs.

But the Sixers shouldn't be worried about that. It would be outstanding for this young team's confidence (and how could you not feel great for Brett Brown after what he's dealt with the last four years) to make the playoffs, but their goals should be improvement and health. This team has some serious work to do to jell together and Brown has serious questions to answer about his rotation. It won't all be sorted out over night.

Having the NBA playoffs back in Philly is going to be a blast, but let's focus on this team's development above all else. 

Sixers reportedly ink Kris Humphries to non-guaranteed deal; sign Jacob Pullen

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Sixers reportedly ink Kris Humphries to non-guaranteed deal; sign Jacob Pullen

The Sixers are busy just days before the start of training camp. 

The team plans to sign veteran forward Kris Humphries to a non-guaranteed deal, according to The Vertical

Humphries fits with the Sixers’ plan for a versatile system. At 6-foot-9, he can knock down a long-range shot. Last season on the Hawks, he averaged 42.9 percent from 16 feet from the rim to the three-point line and 35.2 percent from three, according to Basketball-Reference.com. 

Humphries also averaged 3.7 boards in 12.3 minutes. The 32-year-old is entering his 14th NBA season and will add to the Sixers’ growing group of veteran players. 

The Sixers also signed 6-foot-1 guard Jacob Pullen, who was a member of BC Khimki in the VTB United League (Russia) last season. Pullen, 27, also has played in Italy, Israel, Spain, and Croatia. He was a standout at Kansas State (2007-11) and reached the NCAA Tournament in three of his four seasons. 

Pullen has been getting acclimated to the city. Earlier this month, he tweeted:

The Sixers will hold their media day Monday and open training camp Tuesday.