Sixers Season Starts Tonight

Sixers Season Starts Tonight

The Sixers season starts tonight in South Philly against Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut, and the Milwaukee Bucks.  The Birdman and I went down to the Wachovia Center on Saturday for an open practice for all season ticket holders.  (I am not one)  One side of the lower bowl was open and maybe half full.  It was rather cool to see an NBA team practice.  Mo Cheeks was miked up and you could hear him yelling at the players.  Mo was noting repeatedly that they usually don't look this bad.  He even yelled at A.I. for cussing.  It was all pretty humorous and entertaining.  NBA players have to shoot for a chance to avoid doing suicides as well; this brought me back to high school basketball days.

Some observations I made: There are a lot of new faces.  Steven Hunter will be starting tonight due to Samuel Dalembert's injury.  Lee Nailon should be one of the new bench guys to see a lot of action.  Louis Williams is quick.  He and Iverson were talking some smack.

One of the coolest aspects of the day was some of the player interaction with the fans.  On his way off the court, Iverson signed some autographs and actually took the jersey off of his back and gave it to a young fan.  Chris Webber also gave the jersey off his back to a fan.  Nice moves.

This paragraph from yesterday's article by Phil Jasner gives a nice synopsis of the state of the Sixers coming into opening night:

Opening night tomorrow against the Milwaukee
Bucks is not projecting the way Cheeks and president/general manager
Billy King had anticipated. Starting center Samuel Dalembert, who
aggravated his right quadriceps strain in Thursday's preseason finale
in San Antonio, is out for at least 10 to 14 days. Starting small
forward Kyle Korver hyperextended his left knee in Saturday's open
practice at the Wachovia Center and was held out of yesterday's
session, but Cheeks said, "I think he'll be ready to play."

My thoughts on the coming season: It should be an exciting year.  No one expects anything out of them, so if they play well and make a decent playoff run then fans should be happy.  Andre Iguodala and Allen Iverson are two of the most exciting players in the game and watching them every night should be a treat.  Will CWebb be able to perform at any level near his all star days?  Will his knees hold up?  In any event, the Sixers have some young talent and the A.I. duo should be fun to watch.

Elsewhere:

-Dalembert out two weeks with reinjured quad [ESPN]
-Cheeks wants to see some pressure defense [Inky]:

"I think we have more willing guys to get up
and play this type of defense than we did in Portland," he said. "It's
what I wanted to play [there], but I think these guys are a lot more
willing. You also have, as I had in Portland, a couple of shot-blockers
back there."

-Team Report: Getting Inside [Foxsports]
-Wack ranks third among hoops arenas in USA Today [Sixers Journal]:

The top 5; Denver (4.16), Indiana (4.14), Philadelphia (4.14), Phoenix (4.11), Detroit (4.05).

-A.I. should pull back [ESPN Insider]:

This year's Sixers have too much talent elsewhere to stand around and
watch A.I. dribble, drive, elevate and either shoot or kick out a pass
because he couldn't get a shot off. It's not contender talent mind you,
just playoff talent, perhaps enough to challenge the Nets for the
Atlantic Division crown.

.

Best of NBA: DeRozan scores career-high 43 points in Raptors' win

Best of NBA: DeRozan scores career-high 43 points in Raptors' win

TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan scored a career-high 43 points and the Toronto Raptors rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the Boston Celtics 107-97 on Friday night.

DeRozan shot 15 of 28 from the floor as he surpassed his 42-point effort against the Houston Rockets on March 30, 2015, helping the Raptors overcome the absence of fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry. Lowry sat out with a right wrist injury.

Serge Ibaka, acquired by trade from the Orlando Magic last week, scored 15 points in his debut, while fellow newcomer P.J. Tucker, picked up from the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, had a game-high 10 rebounds and nine points in his first game for his new team.

Isaiah Thomas scored 20 points for Boston, which also got 19 points each from Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart (see full recap).

Westbrook triple-double lifts Thunder over Lakers
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook scored 17 points in his 28th triple-double of the season, and his new teammates fit in seamlessly as the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 110-93 on Friday night.

Westbrook also had 18 rebounds and 17 assists for the 65th triple-double of his career.

It was the first game for new Thunder players Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott, acquired Thursday in a trade with the Chicago Bulls. Gibson scored 12 points and McDermott added eight, even though they arrived Thursday night and weren't even available for shootaround on Friday.

Alex Abrines and Andre Roberson each set a career high with 19 points, and Steven Adams added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder.

D'Angelo Russell scored 29 for the Lakers (see full recap).

Pacers beat Grizzlies to snap six-game skid
INDIANAPOLIS -- CJ Miles made five 3-pointers and scored 17 points, Paul George had nine points and nine rebounds after remaining with Indiana following the trade deadline, and the Pacers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 102-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.

Monta Ellis finished with 16 points, Myles Turner scored 12, and Lavoy Allen, Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young each added 10 for the Pacers.

The Pacers outscored the Grizzlies 64-42 across the middle two quarters and never relinquished their lead, leading by as many as 27 points in the second half. The Grizzlies finished the game shooting 41 percent from the floor (35 for 84).

Troy Daniels had 13 points for Memphis and Marc Gasol scored 12. Indiana outrebounded Memphis 50-39 and scored 29 points off 17 Grizzlies turnovers (see full recap).

Thrust into bigger role, Sixers' Holmes stars in win over Wizards

Thrust into bigger role, Sixers' Holmes stars in win over Wizards

BOX SCORE

For as much as the Sixers’ bigs are talked about, Richaun Holmes often is left out of the conversation. 

He’s not the centerpiece of the team like Joel Embiid nor was he heavily involved in trade talks like Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. He is the backup center who bides his time on the bench and quietly stays ready when he gets the nod.

And on Friday, he was the standout player in the Sixers’ 120-112 win over the Wizards (see Instant Replay)

“He’s been sort of the person that people forget about because of the logjam of five men,” Brett Brown said. “We all sort of think, ‘Well, he should just accept it because he’s behind Joel and Nerlens and Jahlil. Good ol’ Richaun. Go to the D-League and it’s OK.’ And that doesn’t work. He’s a pro, he’s competitive. He’s handled it. He’s really been a wonderful teammate.”

Holmes was bumped up in the rotation following the trade of Noel to the Mavs. He moved into the second-unit role while Okafor started in place of the injured Embiid. 

Holmes recorded his first double-double with 12 points (6 for 9 from the field) and 10 rebounds (three offensive). He also blocked a career-high five shots, tying Embiid for the most by a Sixer this season. The second-year big man put together this impressive performance in 26 minutes off the bench (see feature highlight).

“Just play hard,” Holmes said of his approach. “Just go out there, show what you’ve been working on, play hard every second you’re out there. That’s the motto I’ve got.”

Holmes is averaging 16.1 minutes and has appeared in just 32 of the Sixers’ 57 games. This season, he also spent time with the Delaware 87ers of the Development League to get playing time. Holmes embraced an opportunity similar to Friday’s a month ago when he scored 18 points in as many minutes against the Clippers. 

“I try to approach every game this season the same way, whether everybody was playing or people were hurt,” Holmes said. “Prepare like I’m going to play 30 minutes a game. I think having that mindset helped me to stay ready at all times and be aggressive when I had a chance.”

Brown did not rule out the possibility that Holmes could start at some point if he continues this production. The Sixers are limiting Okafor to 20 to 24 minutes per game, according to Brown. That, combined with Embiid’s injury, could lend itself to an increased role for Holmes. 

“I think in that environment, it wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary for Richaun to get a start from time to time,” Brown said. 

Even if he remains on the second unit, Holmes proved he can provide a spark off the bench. Dario Saric noted how Holmes’ impact on both ends of the floor bolsters the frontcourt in addition to a more offensively-minded Okafor (11 points, two rebounds). 

“I think he played unbelievably good in both ways,” Saric said. “Everybody knows he’s an elite guy finishing around the rim, and he stepped in Nerlens’ place, he replaced him unbelievably good. I hope he will get the same minutes for the next game because we have Jahlil, who is more like a post-up player, who likes more to score from the low-post block, and we for sure need some guy like Richaun who will play in both ways." 

Perhaps the person least surprised by Holmes' game was Holmes himself. It was the result he puts in long hours to produce.

“It’s all about the grind,” he said. “All about keep working, keep trying to move up, keep trying to get better every second and it’ll pay off.”