Zoo's Views: A little toughness can't hurt

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Zoo's Views: A little toughness can't hurt

Sixers broadcaster Marc Zumoff offers his views on the team from his perch on press row:

Toughness
I’m not sure it’s quantifiable or simply self-evident, but hopefully the quality of toughness will be on the checklist when piecing together this 76ers team going forward. That’s one of the reasons why the New York Knicks won at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night.

New York’s Kenyon Martin is 36 years old and isn’t the player he once was. But his flagrant foul early in the third quarter certainly set the tone for the rest of the game.

While I don’t advocate dirty play, I do advocate the need to be tough, physical and occasionally throw one's weight around. It delivers a message to the other team, one that lets them know you’re not backing down.

Amar’e Stoudemire displayed his own version of toughness when he consistently bullied his way inside, hitting his first eight shots. Along with athleticism, shooting ability, the desire to defend, being able to “be blue collar,” especially come playoff time, is a good thing.

MCW
It’s no longer a surprise that Michael Carter-Williams has been a surprise, and a very pleasant one at that.

While his shooting hasn’t been great, his scoring has been much greater than expected. Carter-Williams’ playmaking has been very good (though his assists are down lately) and while he was fourth in the nation last year at Syracuse in steals, his overall ability to disrupt at the defensive end has exceeded expectations.

In short, very few figured he’d be where he’d be at this point in the season, namely the leading candidate for NBA Rookie of the Year.

The view from here is that ability has met opportunity in the case of MCW. That is, he’s in a situation in which head coach Brett Brown and the system have been perfect for him. Carter-Williams starts, plays 35 minutes, and under Brown, has the freedom to do what few rookies can or are permitted to do.

But that’s just one view of why he’s been a surprise. What’s yours?

Leftovers, as opposed to turnovers ...
At last count, MCW’s jersey was 15th in sales of NBA jerseys nationwide. ... Evan Turner is trying to become the first Sixer to average at least 20 points in a season since everybody’s favorite No. 3 back in 2005-06. ... For rock dwellers, that No. 3 is being retired by the Sixers at halftime of the March 1 game against the Washington Wizards. ... By the way, the Sixers are featuring that game in a four-pack of games that also includes some great Allen Iverson collectibles from days gone by. Go to www.sixers.com for more info.

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).