76ers

If you want to learn Sixers' language, just study the '76ionary'

If you want to learn Sixers' language, just study the '76ionary'

Al Horford, a 33-year-old with five All-Star appearances and 786 games of NBA experience, has already said twice that he “feels like a rookie” adjusting to the Sixers’ terminology and concepts. Horford isn’t the only Sixer with a lot to learn — Brett Brown’s unique language is all new to Josh Richardson, Kyle O’Quinn, rookie Matisse Thybulle and a handful of other Sixers.

Brown explained after the Sixers’ practice Monday how the team aims for its terminology to become part of players’ vernacular.

We actually have a book. We call it — and it's not my idea, although I loved it — we called it the 76ionary. Clever? We think so. Our assistant video guy came up with that —  I thought it was clever. 

“You come in, and you've heard me say this, 'What's the Malone line? We're going to Nash this and Varejao that and Payton this,' and again, just go on and on and on, and it's quite extensive. And so we have a formalized book. We help new people — Al Horford or Matisse, doesn't matter the age, just to get that established as quickly as we can, the language.

If you’re around Brown and his coaching staff enough, you eventually pick up on some of his distinct terms. Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report detailed many last year. For instance, “Nash-ing” is when a player circles with his dribble around the baseline, and a call to “Payton the post” is an instruction to send a double team down low.

Much of the Sixers’ terminology is common across the league and not especially exotic.

“For the most part, the NBA is pretty solid in what they want to do,” O’Quinn said. “It’s all about gelling with the guys. I think the quicker you do that, I think the quicker the team goes in the right direction."

But Brown and the Sixers will throw around plenty of terms that likely aren’t present in other NBA facilities. 

A “sprintaway screen" is a wide pindown, which Ben Simmons sets for JJ Redick on the play below.

“Get” is when the Sixers’ “A to B” offense begins with the point guard, “A,” giving the ball to the trailing big man, “B,” and then getting it back — pretty intuitive. 

A "gut cut" is a purposeful sprint down the heart of the floor, a T.J. McConnell speciality during his time with the team.

The “Flip and follow” is when a player tosses the ball to a teammate and then continues in the direction of his pass, as Mike Muscala does here.

The “D-Wade diagonal” is the spot around the opposite elbow where the Sixers aim to have a player stationed on a baseline drive, named after future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade.

“Explosion” is the team’s spontaneous, unpredictable cutting off a player in the post.

A “corral blitz” is a more conservative version of a full-on blitz of the pick-and-roll. The goal is to level off the ball handler — essentially the Sixers' coverage below if Simmons had also followed Redick's hedge-and-recover approach.

It’s a lot of names and information to take in — the terms listed above are just a small sampling — and Richardson was reticent to speak on the subject.

“I can’t give you the details, because it’s the 76ionary,” he said. “It’s just our terminology that we use, and he’s been teaching us new things, watching film every day. It’s just referring to all the new words that the new guys are learning.”

How many pages are in the 76ionary? 

“I can’t tell you that,” Richardson said.

Simmons, though, was willing to divulge.

“It’s 438,” he said.

Richardson acted as if he was stunned.

“He told you that! OK, there it is — 438,” he said. “I thought it was a secret.” 

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Sixers take out frustrations on Cavaliers in blowout win

Sixers take out frustrations on Cavaliers in blowout win

BOX SCORE

If ever a team needed a laugher, it was the Sixers.

After dropping five straight road games, they took their frustrations out on the Cavaliers in a 114-95 win at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Sunday.

It’s the Sixers’ first victory away from home since their thrilling win in Portland on Nov. 2. They improve to 8-5 on the young season. They’re back at the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday to take on the Knicks (7 p.m./NBCSP)

Here are observations from the win.

That’s how you get right

The first few possessions were not great for the Sixers defensively. It looked like another game that could be doomed by poor pick-and-roll defense and turnovers — a familiar theme throughout the young season. 

Boy, did that change in a hurry. 

The Sixers got a nice defensive boost from James Ennis, ending the first quarter on a 17-4 run and assisting on 12 of their first 15 makes. They played smothering defense and turned that into easy offense.

It was by far the Sixers’ best half of the season as they shot 68.3 percent from the field, committed just five turnovers and outscored the Cavs, 68-44. 

The most encouraging thing is that they didn’t let up. They kept their foot on the gas and never let Cleveland back in the game.

This is what it was supposed to look like

The Sixers had lost five of their last seven, which exacerbated the issues of the starting five. On Sunday, they looked like a well-oiled machine. We saw the “bully ball” offense out in full force. With their size, the Sixers are going to have mismatches pretty much every night. It was a clear emphasis against the Cavs. 

You saw Ben Simmons find Josh Richardson for a wide open three out of the post. Tobias Harris got doubled in the post and found Joel Embiid for an easy bucket. Al Horford ran the pick-and-pop with Simmons for a short jumper. 

No, Cleveland is not a defensive juggernaut, but this was the most encouraging offensive showing by the starters this season. At times, their ball movement was unreal. Now it’s about taking this performance into their next game.

It’s worth noting that Harris appears to be off the schneid as he stuffed the stat sheet with a game-high 27 points (12 of 14), five rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks.

When Jo and Ben are at their best …

For those screaming that Embiid needs to be in the post, this had to be refreshing. There’s no secret to it. Brett Brown didn’t make any crazy adjustments. It boils down to Embiid running rim to rim instead of three-point line to three-point line. He got down the floor and got early position for easy post ups. He screened and rolled hard to the rim as well, which makes a huge difference. He was his dominant self Sunday, but more importantly, he played just a little over 22 minutes.

Though as mentioned it was against the Cavs, it’s always encouraging to see both Embiid and Simmons get going in the same game. Cedi Osman was no match for Simmons. Simmons took him off the dribble and punished him in the post. Simmons also continues to be strong defensively. He looks more engaged this season and well on his way to earning some type of All-Defensive Team honors. 

He finished with 10 points, 11 assists, four rebounds, two blocks and a steal in just under 26 minutes.

Boost from the bench

The Sixers got just 11 points from their bench Friday in Oklahoma City. The reserves had 20 at the half Sunday.

Ennis was a huge part of that. He hit a trio of corner threes and was active defensively and on the glass throughout. Ennis has given the Sixers solid run his last three games. He had a season-high 14 points.

It’s clear that Furkan Korkmaz has cooled from his torrid pace, but it was good to see the Turkish wing put the ball on the floor and make a couple plays for 13 points. Rookie Matisse Thybulle was good in his first-half run, hitting a three and finishing on a rare drive. Trey Burke got the backup point guard minutes over Raul Neto.

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Sixers at Cavaliers: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

Sixers at Cavaliers: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

The Sixers (7-5) will look to get back into the win column in Cleveland when they take on the Cavaliers (4-7) this afternoon.

Here are the essentials for today’s game:

When: 3 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 2:30 p.m.
Where: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia+ 
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch:

Time to get right

There’s no such thing as a good loss, but man, the Sixers’ losses have been particularly brutal. On Friday night, they held a nine-point lead with 7:20 to go but gave up a 12-2 run and eventually lost in overtime to the Thunder.

The Sixers have glaring issues — especially in their starting five — but Brett Brown feels like he knows what they are.

“If you're sick and you don't know why, that's a problem,” Brown said. “We are in a tough spot right now, but it's a long year. I think that it doesn't take much for me to understand where we have to get better. And it's really that simple. If you're scratching your head, sort of confused, then I think we got some problems and that's not what I'm doing. I think the guys understand the areas that matter most that can best impact changing the way things are going and get back on the winning side.”

We'll see.

Taking care of business

This Cavs team isn’t as bad as perhaps we all thought coming into this season. They start two extremely young guards in Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, but they’re still flanked by veteran bigs Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson.

Cleveland also gave the Sixers all they could handle earlier this week — especially veteran guard Jordan Clarkson (20 points). The Sixers were able to sneak out of the Wells Fargo Center with a 98-97 win. Then again, when is the last time this team played a game that wasn’t close?

While the Cavs are maybe better than anticipated, this is a team the Sixers should be able to get well against. On Tuesday, they held Cleveland scoreless for over three minutes to close out the game. They need to bring that for 48 minutes and get right with a win over a team they’re clearly more talented than. 

Sorting out the bench

Furkan Korkmaz was scorching hot for a six-game stretch. He shot 50.9 percent from three and averaged 13.8 points in mostly bench minutes. In his last three games, he’s just 4 of 16 from distance. The issue with Korkmaz is if he’s not hitting shots, he doesn’t bring much else to the table. You saw Oklahoma City pick on him in overtime after Tobias Harris fouled out.

Korkmaz has been getting the most minutes off Brown’s bench recently. Should he be? Rookie Matisse Thybulle got off to a roaring start, but has looked overmatched offensively. With that said, he’s just so special defensively, Brown should deal with the growing pains on the other end. In games Thybulle has played at least 12 minutes, the Sixers are 6-1.

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