76ers

10 observations from Sixers-Heat

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10 observations from Sixers-Heat

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Bottle this one and send it to Springfield, Mass.

With the 114-110 victory over the Miami Heat in the season opener, the Sixers may have turned in the performance of the season (see Instant Replay). To beat the two-time defending champs, the Sixers had to withstand allowing 80 points in the second and third quarters, while blowing a 22-point lead and overcoming a nine-point deficit.

Phew.

The Sixers also received something of a historical performance from rookie Michael Carter-Williams in his NBA debut. MCW had nine steals, which is an NBA record for a player in his debut. He just missed notching the first triple-double in an NBA debut, going for 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals and seven rebounds.

Here are a few observations from Wednesday’s opener:

1. The Sixers made their first 11 shots of the game and then missed 11 straight shots from the 1:10 mark of the first quarter until there was 6:10 left in the first half. The Sixers scored the first 19 points of the game and then allowed a 14-1 run to open the second quarter.

2. Carter-Williams had quite an NBA debut. His first basket came on a steal and a breakaway dunk. He followed that with an assist to Spencer Hawes on a running one-hander before burying the first three-pointer attempt of his career.

For a player who shot just 30.7 percent from three-point range in college, Carter-Williams was not bashful about taking his shot in his debut. In 36 minutes, MCW went 6 for 10 from the field, including 4 for 6 from three-point range.

The 22 points is the most in a debut by a Sixer since Allen Iverson scored 30 on Nov. 1, 1996 and the nine steals ties the club all-time record.

Maurice Cheeks is the last Sixer to have a double-double in his debut, going for 10 points and 13 assists on Oct. 13, 1978.

Oh yeah, Carter-Williams had just one turnover.

3. Though Evan Turner still struggles with his outside shot, he was able to get to the basket for layups and a couple of dunks. Turner went 0 for 4 from beyond the arc, but converted on 10 for 19 from the field for a team-high 26 points.

4. Turner had some trouble from in close, though. With 7:52 left, Turner missed a layup that would have brought the Sixers within one point. On the next possession, Turner got a steal and fed Thad Young a little too much, resulting in a turnover. Rashard Lewis hit a short jumper on the next trip down the floor to push the lead to five points.

5. Tony Wroten came off the bench to score 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting. More importantly, Wroten brought a lot of energy on defense when Carter-Williams was catching a breather on the bench.

6. Before training camp began, Brown said the Sixers would have plenty of minutes for any player who wanted them. He wasn’t lying. Brown played nine of the 11 players who dressed for the game and they all got at least 12 minutes.

7. Hawes quietly scored 24 points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds in 29 minutes.

8. Speaking of quiet performances, LeBron James scored 25 points and dished out 13 assists. Ho-hum.

9. Though the Sixers have a 51-49 all-time record against the Heat, they snapped a 15-game regular-season losing streak with the win. Counting the postseason, the Sixers went into the game having lost 19 of 20 to the Heat.

10. In addition to scoring 80 points in the second and third quarters, the Heat hit 16 three-pointers and went 10 for 13 from long range during the third quarter.

Sixers refuse to look at silver lining from season-opening loss

Sixers refuse to look at silver lining from season-opening loss

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WASHINGTON — In years past, overcoming a 12-point deficit and trailing a playoff-contending team by just two points with a minute to go would be considered an “A for effort” for the Sixers

If they held their own against a more experienced team and didn’t get dominated by John Wall, a 120-115 loss on the road wasn’t really that bad … was it?

Not this season.

The Sixers are in a new phase, one with actual pieces versus promising potential. With that comes higher expectations to win, and it starts in the locker room after the first game. 

“I don’t like taking positives from losses,” JJ Redick said. “We need to clean up a lot of stuff. We need to be better. It takes a lot to win in this league. We need to figure that out, and we will. We are good enough to do that.” 

The Sixers were in Wednesday's game until the end (see observations). They withstood the combined 53 points from Wall and Bradley Beal with a 29-point performance by Robert Covington and double-doubles from Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons (see studs, duds, more).

The team acknowledged it had a chance to win. Yes, there were encouraging moments. No, they weren’t hanging their heads and writing off the season after opening night. 

At the same time, they are not ignoring the missteps that landed them in the loss column. Those are the turning points to learn from this season. 

The Sixers gave up just three points off four turnovers in the first half. The second half was a different story: 20 points off 13 turnovers. Down two points late in the fourth, the Sixers committed a pair of turnovers in a span of 30 seconds that hindered them from closing the gap. Those errors have been a focal point of conversation among the players. 

“Too many turnovers. That's big,” Embiid said (more on him here). “That's been the talk in the locker room. Got to work on that.”

The Sixers have one day of practice before facing the Celtics and Raptors in back-to-back games. It's just a small taste of what's to come in a stacked schedule over the first two months of the season. The attitude is be good enough to win, not good enough to compete. 

“We’re not going to try to lose this season and take a bunch of positives from that,” Redick said. “We’re trying to win. We’re trying to be in the playoffs this year. That’s got to be the mindset.”

Joel Embiid 'surprised' by amount of playing time in Sixers' opener

Joel Embiid 'surprised' by amount of playing time in Sixers' opener

WASHINGTON — In the end, Joel Embiid’s playing time was a non-issue.

After days of frustration leading up to opening night, Embiid played just three seconds shy of 27 minutes against the Wizards. That far surpassed the 16 minutes he anticipated a day earlier on Tuesday (see story)

“I was surprised,” Embiid said following the Sixers’ 120-115 loss on Wednesday night (see observations). “I was expecting way less than that, but it just shows you they trust me.”

Brett Brown had maintained Embiid’s minutes were going to be more flexible than last year and he wasn’t locked into a specific number by the medical staff. Initially, Brown projected Embiid would play somewhere in the teens, but the game presented an opportunity for him to log more. 

Embiid had played 21:38 through three quarters and it seemed, based on last season, he was done for the night. The coaching staff calculated Embiid had over 20 minutes to rest between the third and the fourth quarters, so Brown put him back into the game with just over five minutes to play. He finished the game with 18 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, a block and four turnovers (see highlights).

“It’s a range,” Brown said. “It’s more of a plan that we have this year than a restriction. When you look at and you feel the flow of the game, that’s where the variables come in.”

Embiid wants open lines of communication between him and the medical staff — for him to know what its planning and for him to be honest about how he is feeling.

“It’s on me to not lie to them and tell them how my body feels when I’m tired,” Embiid said. “At some point through the game I was tired and I told them to take me out.”

Embiid is ready for a new outlook on his availability moving forward. 

“We’ve got to stop calling it 'minutes restrictions,'" Embiid said. "There’s a plan with that — it’s just go out and play. If you’re tired, get out because injuries happen more often when you’re tired.”