76ers

With Wilson Chandler's return imminent, Sixers have no plan to rest Dario Saric

With Wilson Chandler's return imminent, Sixers have no plan to rest Dario Saric

CAMDEN, N.J. — Dario Saric has gotten off to a slow start for the Sixers, to put it mildly. 

After a 1-for-9 effort Thursday night against the Clippers, he’s shooting 33 percent from the floor, 24 percent from three-point range.

Wilson Chandler hasn’t gotten off to any sort of start. He strained his left hamstring in the first preseason game and has yet to make his regular-season debut. But Chandler was a full participant in Friday’s practice and is questionable for Saturday’s game vs. the Pistons. 

With Chandler’s return imminent, it appears there could be an opportunity to rest Saric, who has admitted he’s been negatively affected by playing for Croatia in the summer (see story)

Brett Brown isn’t buying into the idea.

I think it’s overrated. I really do. If you just look at our schedule, because I live it, I feel it probably more than I should, we’ve had time off. There has been time off. I’m more inclined to do what I did last night — I decided to go with Mike Muscala [at the end of the game]. It wasn’t for foul reasons, it was because Dario was down and I felt Mike was going to give us a better chance to win. That’s the nature of any game and the judgment of any coach. 

I feel like if he came to me and said, ‘You know what, I need some time,’ and we talked about it, I would listen. But I feel like historically with Dario, getting through some stuff isn’t terrible. I don’t feel like I’m force-feeding anything, I don’t feel like I’m hurting him. In fact, I feel like I’m helping him. But what I really feel like is we have alternatives in the event that decision is wrong.

As Brown noted, Muscala played down the stretch for the Sixers in Saric’s place. While Muscala has been playing mostly as a power forward, Brown said Chandler “also has a chance as we grow him to learn some of the four spot.” That’s one of the “alternatives” Brown alluded to should Saric’s struggles continue.

The obvious answer for Saric’s poor start is the fatigue from international play. It’s an easy explanation for his rough first six games last season as well (33.3 percent from the field).

Still, there’s clearly a mental side to deal with too. JJ Redick is familiar with all the advice players tend to hear when they’re going through a shooting slump. 

“Some days you want someone, some days you want people to just leave you alone," Redick said. “I think I’m always sensitive to that. The last four games I haven’t shot the ball well and people will tell you, keep shooting, and you’re like, ‘Yeah, no s---, I’m going to keep shooting, that’s not the problem.’ Sometimes the silent treatment is the best treatment.

“I’ve talked to Dario a couple times, he’ll be fine. I’m not worried about him. I actually said to him the other day, ‘You probably don’t even remember this, but you got off to a pretty slow start last year and then you had an unbelievable season.’ I think there’s a law of averages. Sometimes all you need is one breakthrough game where you have a really efficient shooting night … and then all of a sudden you remember how that feels and take off from there.” 

For the time being, Saric shows no signs of wanting a rest — as usual, he worked after practice on his long-range shot.  

Since it doesn’t sound like rest will be the answer, Saric, Brown and the Sixers are hoping that one breakthrough night is. 

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Sixers Talk podcast: Are the Sixers still a Finals contender?

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Sixers Talk podcast: Are the Sixers still a Finals contender?

The Sixers are off to a solid start for any team, but the Sixers were built to be a championship contender. Danny Pommells and Anthony Gilbert discuss that and who will take up the open role in the starting lineup on this edition of Sixers Talk, presented by Wilmington University.

• Are the Sixers still a Finals contender? (2:00)

• Who will move into the starters lineup in place of Al Horford? (6:34)

• Did the Sixers miss on the trade deadline? (10:31)

• This team lacks veteran leadership (20:42)

• Story time with Anthony Gilbert (29:03)

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Joel Embiid thinks idea he can't be effective with Ben Simmons is 'BS'

Joel Embiid thinks idea he can't be effective with Ben Simmons is 'BS'

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons both rejected the notion that they’re incapable of playing together effectively Saturday at All-Star Weekend in Chicago. 

”I think it's BS, because when you look at the last couple years, the last two years that we've been playing together, it's not a problem,” Embiid told reporters, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “This year it's only been a problem because our offense has struggled.

"It's definitely going to be better after the All-Star break. I mean, just look at the last two years, what we've been able to do. I think it can work, and it's going to work."

The Sixers were indeed very good when the pairing shared the floor the past two years. Lineups with Embiid and Simmons had net ratings of plus-15.5 in 2017-18 and plus-7.8 in 2018-19. This season, that number has dropped to plus-1.3.

"It takes time," Simmons said. "Not everything is perfect. Not everything works right away. I love playing with Joel. I think he's an amazing talent, a guy I respect for his game, and I know he feels the same way about me. We continue to go the right way. There's so many different things that we haven't tried. We've got a lot of talent. It's scary how good we can be."

On Feb. 5, Embiid suggested he was having to detract from his own offensive game for the greater good.

“How we played last year, obviously a different structure, the ball movement was better, and this year we've got different players,” he said. “I’ve sacrificed a lot, trying to make everybody feel comfortable, and that's normal.

“We've all got to sacrifice and if it means taking less shots just to make sure everyone is happy and keep winning, then that's what we've got to do. But at the same time, we've still got to understand what's going on around us and how we can help each other be better.”

Pertinent statistics don’t seem to support the idea that Embiid has had to sacrifice much. While his usage rate has dropped from 32.7 to 30.3, his post-ups per game are identical (8.1) and his three-point attempts per 36 minutes are nearly the same (4.6 this year, 4.4 last year). 

However, until Brett Brown’s major adjustment Tuesday night vs. the Clippers, he’d been in a starting lineup with Al Horford, a pairing that hasn’t been beneficial for either player. Embiid and Horford are the only Sixers' two-man lineups with at least 400 minutes together to have a negative net rating (minus-1.1) and have been poor offensively.

As for Embiid and Simmons, the two were strong against the Clippers, both personally and as a combination. They complemented each other well in the high and low post as Embiid had 26 points and nine rebounds and Simmons posted 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

Brown said it was “arguably the best game those two have paired up with” since he started coaching them. 

Simmons will be on Team LeBron and Embiid will be on Team Giannis for Sunday night’s All-Star Game. 



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