76ers

Sixers-Wizards: 5 things you need to know

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Sixers-Wizards: 5 things you need to know

The Sixers (13-27) will attempt to end their two-game skid when they continue their road trip against the Washington Wizards (19-20).

Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. (TCN) at the Verizon Center.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Moving on
It was ugly. You know it. They know it. Everyone knows it.

The rebuilding Sixers have had their share of brutal defeats this season, but Saturday night’s loss to the Chicago Bulls was certainly one of the worst. The Sixers were held to a season-low 78 points, shot 35.1 percent from the field and a dismal 10.5 percent from three-point range.

To make matters worse, Tony Wroten, James Anderson and Brandon Davies all suffered injuries.

The Sixers will try to put that nightmare behind them in a Martin Luther King Day matinee against a Wizards team that has been consistently inconsistent all season.

The Wizards appeared to be hitting their stride recently, winning a season-high three straight games before a hiccup against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday. That loss to the Pistons prevented the Wiz from getting over the .500 mark, a place the franchise hasn’t been since going 2-1 to start the 2009-10 season.

2. Wall ball
John Wall flat out gets up to play the Sixers.

Whether he merely sees a chance to attack mismatches or the fact that the No. 1 overall pick from the 2010 draft gets to face the team of the No. 2 pick that June, Evan Turner, the lightning-quick point guard has had his way against the Sixers.

Wall has averaged 19.2 points, 7.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game against the Sixers throughout his career. That point total has increased in recent matchups, with Wall averaging 24.7 points over the last three meetings.

The Wizards definitely go as Wall goes. When he scores at least 15 points, the Wizards are 18-10 this season. They are just 1-10 when he doesn’t reach that total.

The Sixers need to cut off Wall’s drives through the lane early in the game. That’s how Wall likes to get himself going, which gives him more confidence with the rest of his all-around game.

3. Slipping away
While the Sixers’ defensive focus should start with Wall, their offensive attention needs to be on taking care of the basketball.

The Sixers turned it over 17 more times against the Bulls to give them a whopping 64 turnovers in the last three games and push their league-worst average to 17.4 a night. The Sixers haven’t had under 15 turnovers since they had 10 against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 7.

Their tendency to give the ball away could certainly cost them in Monday’s matchup at “The Phone Booth.” The Wizards force 15.2 turnovers a game, tied for sixth in the NBA.

The Wiz don’t just force errors but they also capitalize on them. They are tied with the Sixers for seventh in the NBA in points off turnovers with 17.8 a game. The Wizards are also tied for seventh in fast-break points at 16.1 a game.

All numbers a team that turns it over as much as the Sixers don’t want to hear.

4. Injuries
Wroten (ankle), Anderson (back), Davies (finger) and Arnett Moultrie (ankle) are all day to day.

Nerlens Noel (knee) and Jason Richardson (knee) are out.

Trevor Booker (ankle) is day to day for the Wizards.

Al Harrington (knee) and Glen Rice, Jr. (wrist) are out.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have 11 straight road losses to Eastern Conference teams since beating the Wizards back on Nov. 1.

• The Wizards are 6-14 when allowing 100 points or more this season.

• Thaddeus Young is averaging just 11.0 points per game over the last three.

Bold predictions as Sixers tip off 2017-18 season

Bold predictions as Sixers tip off 2017-18 season

Each NBA season is filled with unexpected occurrences that change the landscape for a team, division, conference or even the entire league.

The Sixers will need to have a few of their own along the way as they seek their first playoff berth in five years.

With that said, Jessica Camerato, Marshall Harris, Matt Haughton and Paul Hudrick each provide a bold prediction for the Sixers’ new season.

Camerato: Embiid gets cleared for back-to-back games
Some people may think this should be a given and not a bold prediction, but given how closely the Sixers are monitoring Joel Embiid's playing time, this isn't a guarantee.

Embiid was not cleared for consecutive games last season as he returned from two years of foot injuries. The Sixers have 14 sets of back-to-backs in 2017-18. Of those, I predict Embiid will play in two pairs of them.

The Sixers will have to check off a comprehensive medical checklist before Embiid is given the green light to play two nights in a row. I do think at some point in the season, they will take this next step and do so on minutes restriction.

Harris: Fultz won't start more than half Sixers’ games
Yes, Markelle Fultz is the No. 1 overall pick. The Sixers had to trade up to get him. That's why it pains me to admit this. It's not that I want this to be the case. It's just becoming more and more likely with each passing day. Bringing Fultz off the bench to start his NBA career made the most sense.
 
Fultz is only 19 years old, going up against grown men in the NBA. He's dealing with a shoulder injury that he admits has affected his shot, and has already missed time in the preseason with knee soreness. The knee issue isn't new, as he's dealt with knee problems dating back to his lone season at Washington. 

Add all that up, and it's easy to see how his reserve role could go on longer than just the first few games of the season.
 
For Ben Simmons to be most effective, he needs shooters around him. Jerryd Bayless may have missed almost all of last season, but in 2015-16 he shot 47.7 percent on catch-and-shoot threes. Alongside JJ Redick, Embiid, Robert Covington (I'd like to think he'll shoot better than 28.7 percent from three before January this season) and Bayless, Simmons will have the full complement of shooters he'll need for the Sixers’ offense to pace and space teams to death. 

Coming off the bench will give Fultz the room to grow comfortably, regardless of shoulder and knee issues. It makes sense now and will probably make sense for at least the first half of the season.

Haughton: Redick, Bayless finish top 10 in 3-point percentage
Let it fly. 

As Marshall mentioned above, with ample attention being paid to Embiid down on the block and Ben Simmons serving up those crisp passes, Redick and Bayless should have plenty of good looks from three-point range.

All that’s left is to make the shots. That shouldn’t be a problem for Redick. The career 41.5 percent three-point shooter has finished among the top five in three of the past five seasons, including the No. 1 spot in 2015-16.

Bayless isn’t the same caliber of shooter as Redick, but he has made strides to become a serious threat from long range. The veteran combo guard has shot 36.6 percent from distance for his career. However, Bayless connected on a career-high 43.7 percent in ’15-16 with the Bucks, his second season above 40.0.

Recent numbers suggest it will take around a 41.5 percent average to crack the top 10. I say the sharpshooters make the cut and provide the Sixers with a severe aspect of today’s NBA the team has been lacking for quite some time.

Hudrick: Brown gets named NBA’s top coach
Maybe I'm trying to go all LaVar Ball and will this into existence, but my bold prediction is that Brett Brown will win Coach of the Year.

If my season prediction is correct, the Sixers will make the playoffs with the same coach that's finished with a 75-253 record during his first four seasons. Brown has been through so much during his time here. Don't think that'll get lost on voters.

Think about some of the players Brown has had to trot out there. Tony Wroten. James Anderson. Furkan Aldemir. Isaiah Canaan. The one thing you could always say about the Sixers during the tanking years is that the players on the court didn't tank. That's a credit to Brown, who had his team prepared and ready to play.

With actual NBA players, Brown will pull this team together. Nobody in this organization deserves vindication of their efforts more.

Wizards' Bradley Beal aims to quiet his buddy Joel Embiid

Wizards' Bradley Beal aims to quiet his buddy Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid has made noise with his mouth and social media presence.

His trash talk took the NBA by storm after the Sixers' preseason finale last Friday against the Miami Heat in Kansas City.

Embiid went after Heat center Hassan Whiteside (there's some history there) in a hilarious Twitter exchange that caught the eyes of many.

Wizards guard Bradley Beal being one of them.

"JoJo is my boy. I like JoJo. We have the same trainer and work out in the summers," Beal said Monday to NBC Sports Washington. "That was crazy. That was really crazy. He was letting his feelings be known."

The Sixers travel to the Wizards for their season opener Wednesday night. While Beal said he likes Embiid’s trash talking because it "keeps guys competitive," he added that his friend better not try it against his team.

"When he plays us, we're going to try to shut him down as best as we can," Beal said. "We aren't trying to hear none of that talking and I'm gonna let him know about it, too."

Embiid joked that he's the social media king.

"To me," he said, "it’s all fun."

The fun shifts to the court Wednesday night.

We'll have to see if the trash talk follows.