A big night at the Wells Fargo Center for Sixers coach Brett Brown as he goes against his NBA mentor and the team with which he was a part of 5 championships with – Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs.
The Sixers are coming of a double-overtime loss in Cleveland on Saturday while the Spurs thumped the New York Knicks yesterday by 31 points.
Andrew Bynum and the Cleveland Cavaliers will match up against the Sixers tonight at the Wells Fargo Center. Whether or not Bynum plays will be one of the big stories. The two teams meet again tomorrow night in Cleveland and Bynum can’t play back-to-back games, yet. His choice may be to wait to go on Saturday in front of his home fans. Anyway, here’s a look at some of the keys for the Sixers tonight.
* Try to contain Kyrie Irving: Quickly becoming one of the top point guards in the league, Irving was phenomenal in a preseason game against the Sixers in Columbus, Ohio. That night he was able to get anywhere he wanted with the ball in his hands. While he is terrific at both delivering the ball and getting it to the basket, the Sixers need to try and curtail his drives to the basket where he can beat them in a variety of ways.
* Get out on three-point shooters: The Cavaliers aren’t very good at shooting from long range, as evidence by their 17-for-46 (26.6 percent) from beyond the arc. Still, the Sixers have gotten killed in their last two games, particularly by a couple of players (Andre Iguodala and John Wall) who aren’t known for their three-point abilities. While protecting the lane remains their priority, they have to find a way to prevent wide open jumpers.
After the Sixers jumped out to a surprising 3-0 start, point guard Michael Carter-Williams deservedly received much of the publicity. The rookie introduced his tantalizing skill set to the NBA by leading the Sixers to wins over two title contenders, the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls.
Yet the Sixers were also aided by other strong performances. Near the top of that list is center Spencer Hawes, who through five games has slapped together an impressive 17-11-3 line on 58 percent shooting, 50 percent from beyond the arc.
Hawes’ three-point shooting has been the biggest revelation. During the first six years of his NBA career, Hawes never shot more than 1.8 threes per 36 minutes, and even that total came back in 2008-09 as a member of the Sacramento Kings. So far this year, he’s shooting over four threes per-36.
The Sixers will look for their fourth win in five games tonight when they host the winless Washington Wizards (0-3). The Sixers have already beaten Washington once, taking a 109-102 decision on Friday at the Verizon Center. The Wizards were without center Nene that game, but he could be back in the lineup tonight. Here’s a look at some keys to the game for the Sixers.
* Get solid, steady play from point guard Michael Carter-Williams: Was Monday’s 4-of-17 shooting, six turnover, zero steal game in a loss to the Golden State Warriors an aberration? Somewhere between that and the terrific first three games is probably where Carter-Williams’ game is. His most impressive game of the season may have been in the win against the Wizards, not statistically, but because of how he overcame a slow start and foul trouble to lead the Sixers to a terrific fourth quarter. He’ll again have his hands full with John Wall, but a solid game from him will go a long way towards another win.
* Take advantage of their interior speed: Thaddeus Young posted 29 points and Evan Turner 23 in the win on Friday. A lot of those baskets came in the paint where the Sixers were much quicker than any of the big men Washington threw out there. Nene, along with Marcin Gortat, can clog up a lane but the Sixers can use their interior speed to their advantage again.
The 76ers host the Golden State Warriors tonight in what very well may be a fun track meet.
Both teams like to get up and down the floor and both teams are not afraid to launch from long range. For the third straight game the Sixers will face one of the league’s top point guards in Stephen Curry. The Sixers (3-0) had success in containing John Wall and Derrick Rose the previous two games and will have to do the same in order to get off to their best start since the 2000-2001 season, when they started out 10-0.
Here’s a look at some keys for the Sixers tonight.
- Get out on the wings defensively when the Warriors are running with the ball. Shooting guard Klay Thompson has turned into one of the premier shooters in the league. This season he has made 65 percent of his shots from the floor (28-for-43) and nailed nine of his 17 three-point attempts. Curry has already gone 16-of-27 from three-point range in the team’s first three games. He can hit off the dribble, standing still or coming off picks. The Sixers like to pack in their defense to protect the rim and then get out on jump shooters. They may have to sway a little from that theory tonight, specifically on Thompson and Curry.
- Continue to play with high energy. In their first three games the Sixers have come from behind in each one in the fourth quarter. Much of that has to do with their oppositions wearing down a bit late in the game. The Sixers roster is frighteningly young and seemingly filled with boundless energy. They need to wear down the Warriors a little bit, as Golden State doesn’t have a very deep bench.
- Get good bench play. Coach Brett Brown has surprised a bit in the confidence that he’s shown in using his bench. On Saturday against Chicago he had a fourth quarter lineup that included Tony Wroten, Darius Morris, Daniel Orton, Lavoy Allen and Hollis Thompson. And his team was down by nine points. Those five put in some solid minutes until Brown was able to go back to his starters.
- Evan Turner vs. Andre Iguodala. This will be a very interesting matchup. Iguoadala was basically traded a couple of years ago not only to bring in Andrew Bynum, but because if Turner was going to blossom into the type of player the organization thought he was, the roadblock that was Iguodala had to go. Turner is entrenched as the team’s leading scorer now and is a leader on this young team. If he gets into a one-on-one battle with Iguodala, it might not be good for the Sixers. He’ll have to take his points as they come, get to the basket strong and think team first.
- Contain the activity of David Lee. The left-handed forward always seems to be around the ball when it is in the lane and is a constant threat to post 20 points and 10 rebounds. He’ll probably get those numbers against the Sixers, just because of their lack of interior defense. What the Sixers can’t allow is for Lee to keep balls alive on the offensive end, either by rebounding or tipping rebounds. There are a lot of long rebounds with the Warriors due to their long range bombing and Lee is great at reading those long boards.
The 76ers have announced that they have picked up the third year options on the contracts of guard Tony Wroten and forward Arnett Moultrie.
The bigger news, though, is that they didn't decide to do the same for Evan Turner, who was due to make $8.7 million next season. Wroten will cost the team $1.2 million next season while Moultrie will collect $1.1 million.
Asked last week about the possibility of not getting a contract extension, Turner said that it is not something that is on his mind right now and that all he wants to do is play as hard as he can and help this painfully young group get better in this rebuilding year.
The Sixers will look for the second win in as many games tonight when they face the Washington Wizards down in the nation’s capital.
Here’s a look at a few keys to the game for the Sixers.
+ Keep sharing the ball. The team did a very good job of moving the basketball in the season-opening win over the Miami Heat. Shot distribution was good, probably right where coach Brett Brown envisions it being most of the season. That has to remain the same. If someone on this team is taking more than 20 shots in a game it’s probably not going to be benefial.
The Daily News' Bob Cooney reports from Wells Fargo Center where Allen Iverson formally announced his retirement before the 76ers' season opener against the Miami Heat.