76ers

3-Dei: How the Sixers can beat the Knicks

uspresswire-sixers-evan-turner.jpg

3-Dei: How the Sixers can beat the Knicks

The Sixers can beat the Knicks. After all, New York has been beaten on 26 occasions this season, most recently by 23 points on its home floor Monday to the Brooklyn Nets.

Here is how I see the Sixers-Knicks matchup tonight in 3-Dei:

1. The Sixers' defense needs to be present and accounted for in the game.

The Nets beat the Knicks with defense. They held New York to 80 points, 15 below its season average. They also held the Knicks to 34 percent shooting. On the season, New York shoots 43.3 percent.

The Sixers cannot come into this division matchup trying to outscore the Knicks. Yes, New York will let you put points on the board (opponents score 99.1 per game on the Knicks), but the Knicks have more scorers than the Sixers.

The Sixers are allowing opponents to score a league-high 109.9 points per game on 46.0 percent shooting (10th highest).

In a previous meeting with New York, the Knicks won 102-92 on 47.6 percent shooting. They made one more three-pointer than the Sixers (6-5) and three more free throws (18-15).

There were no great discrepancies. New York just had a little more that day. The Knicks were on a roll when the two last met, but are currently on a four-game skid.

If the Sixers bring defense, New York's skid will continue.

2. The matchup at the small forward position has to be equal -- not necessarily statistically, but in contributions to helping their respective teams.

Evan Turner versus Carmelo Anthony. Both players lead their team in scoring. Anthony is third in the league with 26.1 points per game, while Turner is tied for 25th at 18.1.

Anthony gets a significant nod when it comes to three-point shooting because his percentage is 39.5 while Turner's is 29.1.

In the previous meeting, Anthony outplayed his counterpart. Anthony did not have a great shooting night (8 of 21 for 18 points), but he did grab nine rebounds and hand out seven assists.

Meanwhile, Turner's line read 12 points, five rebounds, one assist and six turnovers. That game was not a shining moment for Turner, nor have the last three in which he has averaged just 9.7 points.

3. Take advantage of the Knicks being down two frontcourt players.

The last go-around, Amar'e Stoudemire discovered the fountain of youth, scoring 21 points in 22 minutes. And Kenyon Martin hurt the Sixers, making 4 of 5 field goal attempts for eight points to go with eight rebounds.

Both players sprained an ankle last Thursday and are sidelined for a couple weeks.

The Sixers will be without Tony Wroten, who also has a sprained ankle, but New York minus Stoudemire and Martin has to be taken advantage of by the Sixers' big men.

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

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

BOX SCORE

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.”