Things get foggy for Sixers in London

Things get foggy for Sixers in London


The Sixers are not bringing a win back from London. Instead, they will return to Philadelphia with a list of improvements needed to compete with the top talent in the Eastern Conference.

Surrendering leads is not a new issue for the Sixers. They have been prone to giving up game-changing runs, stretches in which their offense stalls and the opponents run up the scoreboard. 

On Thursday, the Sixers built a 22-point lead, but didn’t give it all up right away. The Celtics chipped away in the second quarter, then put their foot on the gas in the third to outscore the Sixers by 15. The game was out of the Sixers’ hands from there. 

"I think that's the first time we've ever let somebody back in and not done anything about it or made a push,” Ben Simmons told reporters after the Sixers’ 114-103 loss at the O2 Arena (see observations). “They just made a run and we didn't do anything about it, didn't execute plays, didn't get rebounds, didn't get stops. I think that's what it came down to.” 

What looked like it had the makings of an upset turned into a reminder of the Sixers’ to-do list. Play four quarters of basketball. Limit turnovers (two in the first quarter, 17 after that). Play team basketball. 

The Celtics have too many experienced players to let these windows of opportunities pass them by. 

“When you really go back and you say, 'Well, how do you surrender the lead? What are the common reasons that you surrender the lead?'” Brown said. “For us, there have been, at times, not a sort of disciplined way to handle adversity. Sometimes with our youth, this catches us a little off guard. I think structurally, you can point at some turnovers that creep up.”

And part of that growth is the continued development of young talent. Simmons scored 16 points and under his season average with three assists and just two rebounds (see highlights). Joel Embiid recorded a quiet double-double of 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. He was scoreless in the first quarter, a slow start when Embiid didn’t settle into a zone. 

"If I'm not having fun … another way for me to have fun and kick someone's ass is also talk trash — if I'm not doing that, usually I have bad games,” Embiid said. “I don't think they did anything. I was just not in a rhythm and I didn't do a good job of letting my teammates find me. I don't think they did anything special. But they double-teamed a couple times, I turned the ball over once and I shot a bad shot once, so I've got to correct that."

At 19-20, the Sixers are nearly halfway through the regular season. They currently are one spot out of the eighth seed behind the Pacers. The Sixers will face the 29-11 Raptors on Monday, another top-tier Eastern Conference team they are winless against this season. Their loss to the Celtics should serve as a measuring stick of steps they have to take to not only make the playoffs, but compete in them as well. 

“We got out by 22 points. You're playing against the best team in the East, the best defensive team in the NBA, and we didn't react the way we have to,” Brown said. “The physicality got the better of us, the turnovers definitely got the better of us, and it's part of our growth. It's something that .500 teams experience and we're going to have to do better.”

Sixers round out training camp roster with Emeka Okafor

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Sixers round out training camp roster with Emeka Okafor

Before the Sixers tip off the 2018-19 season with practice Saturday, the team made one more addition to the roster.

They brought back Okafor.

Sorry, not that one. The Sixers signed Emeka Okafor, who spent the 2017-18 training camp and preseason with the squad. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Okafor rounds out the Sixers’ training camp roster to 20 players.

After being waived last preseason, Okafor latched on with the Sixers’ Gatorade League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats (then the 87ers). The No. 2 pick of the 2004 draft played 26 games for Delaware before making the leap back to regular-season NBA action with the New Orleans Pelicans. Okafor also played 26 games for the Pelicans (19 starts) and averaged 4.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.0 block in 13.6 minutes per game.

The 35-year-old had previously been out of the league for four years while recovering from a severe neck injury.

Coincidentally, Okafor, who was cut by the Pelicans earlier this week, will likely his minutes in New Orleans taken over by former Sixer Jahlil Okafor.

The Sixers’ full training camp roster is below:

Jerryd Bayless, G, 6-3/210
Jonah Bolden, F, 6-10/220
Anthony Brown, G/F, 6-7/225
Wilson Chandler, F, 6-9/225
Robert Covington, F, 6-9/225
Joel Embiid, C, 7-0/260
Markelle Fultz, G, 6-4/200 
Demetrius Jackson, G, 6-1/200
Amir Johnson, F/C, 6-9/240
Furkan Korkmaz, G/F, 6-7/185
T.J. McConnell, G, 6-2/190
Shake Milton, G, 6-6/205 
Mike Muscala, F/C, 6-11/240
Emeka Okafor, C, 6-10/255
Norvel Pelle, C, 6-11/215
JJ Redick, G, 6-4/195
Dario Saric, F, 6-10/250
Landry Shamet, G, 6-5/190
Ben Simmons, G/F, 6-10/230
Zhaire Smith, G, 6-4/200

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Sixers notes, quotes and tidbits: Jerryd Bayless saga lingers into training camp

Sixers notes, quotes and tidbits: Jerryd Bayless saga lingers into training camp

CAMDEN, N.J. — There were 19 players in uniform for the Sixers during Friday’s annual media day and each one strutted through the team’s training facility eager to get the new season underway.

Well, maybe not all of them.

Jerryd Bayless was less than thrilled to be back in the building. The veteran guard found himself glued to the bench for most of last season and now enters the final year of his contract likely staring at a similar fate.

“It’s not a normal situation, that’s for sure. It’s not the easiest,” Bayless said. “This is business. I think sometimes that can get lost in the thought of basketball, but at the end of the day, this is business. I get it. I get it from both sides. I get it from their perspective and I get it from my perspective, so it is what it is.”

Despite not being projected to make an impact on the court, the 30-year-old Bayless doesn’t plan on being a distraction.  

“Truthfully, my relationships within this organization are great,” he said. “There’s obviously been some situations that haven’t gone well, but for the most part, if you go around with all the players and most of the people that are within this organization, I have great relationships. It’s not that Jerryd’s gonna change or I’m gonna change and I’m gonna do something crazy because a lot of these people I really respect.

“My role on this team obviously isn’t where I would want it to be and that’s part of it. It’s part of life. Things don’t always go the way you want them to. We’ll get through it. I’ll get through it and then figure it out.” 

Long time no see
NBA players jet all across the globe when the season ends. That means they don’t get to see teammates much throughout the summer.

It also means guys get set up fun reunions.

That was the case when Joel Embiid ran into fellow center Amir Johnson. Embiid stood off to the side while Johnson answered questions at the podium. Then the All-Star stepped in to whisper something in Johnson’s ear.

“You’ve got to say that again because Jo was just talking s——,” Johnson said with a smile.

The best re-introduction came when T.J. McConnell walked out of a room and spotted Embiid. He bowed and waved his arms up and down to indicate he was not worthy of the All-Star’s presence. 

“As soon as I heard the news, I just thought about two years ago now I remember dunking on him. We actually talked about it when he got the job when I texted him. I just remember dunking on him really bad and I was like that’s crazy. That was two years ago. Two years ago, he was still playing with us and now he’s our GM. Much respect and I was happy for him.”

- Embiid on Elton Brand being named general manager

“I was able to go to Italy. I think it’s a pretty good upgrade from my last honeymoon. Spent about 12 days out there, so it was a pretty life-changing trip for us. A lot of water was drank and pasta.”

- McConnell on taking his wife on vacation after they spent their honeymoon last year in Camden

Fun fact
If you go by the Sixers’ training camp bios packet, veteran forward Wilson Chandler has about as many nicknames as tattoos.

Chandler’s nicknames include “Wil,” “Ill Wil,” “Kill at Wil,” “Wil the Thrill,” “Willie Blanco” and “Willie McFly.”

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