76ers

Sluggish Sixers struggle in rout to Cavs

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Sluggish Sixers struggle in rout to Cavs

BOX SCORE

CLEVELAND — Sixers coach Brett Brown has a simple formula his team needs to follow in order to stay in games: His three veterans need to have a big night and the bench needs to perform admirably in relief.

The Sixers got the latter Tuesday night in Cleveland, but the three veterans looked like players who were playing their fifth game in seven days. It added up to a 111-93 loss to the Cavaliers (see Instant Replay), the second loss in as many days for the Sixers (12-23).

“We need our big three firing,” Brown said. “We need a bench that’s playing B, B-plus games in order to be in anything competitive. That’s the reality of our roster.”

The big three -- Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young -- combined for just 13 points. All three played limited minutes, and Young was held scoreless for the first time since 2011. He finished 0 for 7 from the floor in 21 minutes.

The Cavs, meanwhile, looked like a team that just got a new shot of life playing hours after acquiring Luol Deng from the Bulls in a trade that sent Andrew Bynum to Chicago. Deng wasn’t with the team Tuesday, but if he watched any portion of the game, he had to have liked what he saw from his new teammates.

Anderson Varejao (18 points, 14 rebounds) and Tristan Thompson (12 points, 10 rebounds) each had double-doubles. Kyrie Irving had 16 points and eight assists playing for the first time in three games.

C.J. Miles scored a game-high 34 points, making a career-high and franchise record 10 three-pointers. The Cavs as a team shot 13 for 28 from deep, as the Sixers fell victim to the poor perimeter defense that plagued them prior to their West Coast trip.

“You give him credit,” Brown said of Miles. “You most definitely give him credit. As a young team, when somebody is rolling like that, you have to be aware of where he is every second. There’s a tiny bit of that that’s on us. You have to show a level of desperation.”

It was evident the Sixers didn’t have the energy to be desperate Tuesday. Reluctant to pin Monday’s loss to Minnesota on fatigue, Brown admitted Tuesday that perhaps his team just didn’t have anything left.

“I have no idea about the team I just saw the last two nights,” Brown said. “The fatigue must have played a far greater factor than I anticipated. The team that came back from the West Coast in relation to what I have seen the last two nights from an energy standpoint is night and day.”

Aside from rookie Michael Carter-Williams, who finished with a career-high 33 points to go along six rebounds, five assists and just one turnover, the Sixers' starters lacked the stamina to stay with the Cavs.

A 14-3 Cleveland run midway through the first quarter was enough to put the Sixers away. The Cavs led by 23 at the half and the lead grew to as much as 31 in the fourth quarter.

“It’s just one of those games where you couldn’t get anything going,” Young said. “Just want to get this one pretty much behind me and move on to the next one. I think as a team we just didn’t play well.”

If the Sixers can find another bright spot outside of Carter-Williams, it might be the play of their bench. The Sixers' bench outscored the Cavs, 43-29. James Anderson (15 points), Brandon Davies (11 points) and Lorenzo Brown (12 points) provided double digits off the bench.

Other than that, it was the kind of lethargic effort that they’d just as soon forget.

“The road trip kind of caught up to us a little bit,” Young said. “It’s been tough on us the last couple weeks.”

Luckily for the Sixers, they get an off day Wednesday before preparing to host Detroit Friday.

“Yes, I do (welcome the off day),” Hawes said. “With open arms.”

Banged-up Markelle Fultz is latest chapter in Sixers' painful rookie history

Banged-up Markelle Fultz is latest chapter in Sixers' painful rookie history

CAMDEN, N.J. — Brett Brown has been here before. The scenario isn’t as drastic in the past, but it’s familiar nonetheless: starting the season with an injured rookie for the fifth straight year.

Markelle Fultz will begin his first NBA season dealing with ongoing right shoulder and right knee soreness. The No. 1 pick is expected to play on opening night Wednesday, but will come off the bench after appearing in only two preseason games. 

Brown has learned to manage this type of situation after years of experience. Nerlens Noel missed Brown’s entire first season because of an ACL injury. Joel Embiid sat out the following two seasons with foot injuries. Ben Simmons suffered a season-ending foot fracture in last year’s training camp. 

The biggest lesson? 

“To go slow,” Brown said. “To not put them in a position where it’s going to produce some difficult times.” 

Fultz was likely to be a starter when the Sixers traded up to draft him first overall in June. The 19-year-old guard hasn’t had that much experience since then thanks to injuries in both summer league and preseason. 

The Sixers face John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry in the first three games alone. That would be a tall defensive task if Fultz were to start. 

“This league is driven by men, this league is driven by veterans,” Brown said. “To just put him in that environment is just, I think, poor coaching and I’m not doing it.”

Just as Simmons took advice from Embiid during his injury, he is offering words of wisdom to Fultz.

“[You’ve] got to to take your time and you definitely have to take care of your body,” Simmons said. “Put your body first. There’s no need to rush.”

The Sixers have the backcourt depth to adjust without Fultz in the starting lineup. They have been turning to veteran Jerryd Bayless at shooting guard alongside Simmons, their intended backcourt pairing last season. 

In the meantime, Brown will balance Fultz’s health, his growth as an NBA player, and the team’s success. 

“The end game needs to be developing Markelle Fultz," Brown said. 

Joel Embiid disappointed Brett Brown has him on another minutes limit

Joel Embiid disappointed Brett Brown has him on another minutes limit

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid would like to play 48 minutes every game. The Sixers are looking at a maximum of 20 for opening night.

"I don't really know if there's a solid number," Brett Brown said Monday after practice. "I can tell if you were to choose a number, it's somewhere in the teens."

Embiid was hoping for more playing time on Wednesday against the Wizards, his first regular-season game since Jan. 27 (left knee surgery).

"I didn't know about that, but that's very disappointing," Embiid said Monday of the minutes restriction. "I feel great and hopefully that changes based on today's practice and tomorrow's practice."

The Sixers are being cautious with Embiid, who has both a lengthy history of injuries and a massive new contract extension. He clocked 15 minutes in both of his preseason games last week. Embiid felt he could have played twice as many minutes.

While the Sixers aren't ready to go as high as 30 minutes yet, they could exercise some wiggle room based on the flow of the game.

"There will be some minutes restrictions, but it's also a judgment of how is the game being played, not just looking at rote, rigid number," Brown said.

The NBA's new timeout rules could impact Embiid's playing time. The updated format changes include a decrease in the maximum number of timeouts allowed (18 to 14), 75-second team timeouts and fewer timeouts in the final minutes of the game. 

"One of the things that we're doing this year unlike previous years is there's a little bit of a looseness in relation to it doesn't have to be rigid if the game didn't dictate some track meet," Brown said. "This is like I'm coaching in the London Olympic Games again. The game moves. I can have guys at a scorers table for two minutes with no stoppage. So sometimes the torrid pace of a game doesn't favor Jo where you go flying up and down."

In addition to individual games, it remains to be seen if Embiid will be cleared this season for back-to-backs. The Sixers face their first set of consecutive games this Friday and Saturday against the Celtics at home and the Raptors in Toronto.