Apr 04 2015

Sixers Get The Best Kind Of Loss In Charlotte

Philadelphia 76ers 91 Final
Recap | Box Score
92 Charlotte Hornets
Furkan Aldemir, PF 29 MIN | 2-4 FG | 4-6 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -2 +/-Save for his rebounding, Furkan looked like he knew how to do little on a basketball court when he joined the Sixers earlier this season. Lately however, he’s played some stellar defense and has even looked semi-competent on the offensive side of the ball. Could he become the next JaKarr Sampson? Could JaKarr Sampson become the next Magic Johnson?

Nerlens Noel, C 11 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -4 +/-Nerlens left early in the first half after getting a cut on his right eyelid, which sounds about as fun as watching Hank Sims soak up the rest of his minutes. Hopefully he can be back tomorrow night in New York and continue the roll he’s been on lately.

Ish Smith, PG 33 MIN | 6-20 FG | 2-4 FT | 9 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 15 PTS | -1 +/-I am speechless! I am without speech! He may have blown the game by missing key shots down the stretch, but this Kemba Walker-lite gave it his all against the real Kemba Walker tonight and continued to solidify his role as the lead point guard for the remaining five games.

JaKarr Sampson, SG 17 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -2 +/-With Isaiah Canaan out, the “Point Guard JaKarr Sampson Oh My God Brett Brown Do You Hate Us Why Are You Doing This” experiment was in full effect tonight. And although he only racked up two dimes, JaKarr looked astonishingly confident running the offense and was an apt substitution for Ish Smith coming off the pine. What a long way this guy has come since October.

Glenn Robinson III, SG 19 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +2 +/-In the absence of Canaan, GR3 was able to soak up most of his minutes and put together what was probably his best game in a Sixers uniform. Although that may not be saying much, he did have a couple nice off-the-bounce takes to the rim and played annoying defense throughout the whole contest.

By the Numbers

38.9 - The combined field goal percentage of both teams. This was a mostly hideous game right from the jump

Tweet of the Game

Parting Shots

Over the last seven games, this has been the third time that the Sixers have lost by just one point. These are the best types of losses for Philly, as it shows that they can hang tight in games while still securing those extra ping pong balls. Games like these where the Sixers can fight with decent basketball teams — though it’s questionable whether Charlotte is such — only further displays the astounding progress this team has made since October; a few months ago many wondered whether Jerami Grant would ever round into an NBA player (he tallied three 3-pointers and six rejections tonight), JaKarr Sampson looked as if he never played basketball in his life (he ran the offense quite splendidly against the Hornets), and Furkan Aldemir was here merely for the puns (he still is).

With Nerlens Noel exploding over the last month, a seemingly healthier Joel Embiid, and potentially four first-round draft picks looming, it’s almost impossible to not be excited for the 2015-16 campaign. #ThisStartsAtSomePointInTheNearFuture

Mar 30 2015

Sixers Drop Pivotal Tank Game Against Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers 113 Final
Recap | Box Score
111 Philadelphia 76ers
Nerlens Noel, C 36 MIN | 7-18 FG | 5-10 FT | 14 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 19 PTS | -8 +/-Noel struggled early at the four, but found his groove throughout the game and taking control in crunch time.

Ish Smith, PG 32 MIN | 8-20 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | 0 +/-Although his lack of defense resulted in Jordan Clarkson’s game-winning basket, Smith’s increasing chemistry with Noel is turning into one of the bright spots of this season.

Thomas Robinson, PF 24 MIN | 4-7 FG | 5-7 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +3 +/-Robinson did what he does best, providing great energy off the bench for the Sixers. His scoring and rebounding continue to shine.

Henry Sims, C 25 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +6 +/-Sims recorded his highest minute total since January, but with performances like this, his time with the Sixers may be coming to an end.

Isaiah Canaan, PG 27 MIN | 4-9 FG | 7-7 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | -4 +/-While Ish Smith continues to solidify his spot as a starter, Canaan is doing whatever he can to guarantee the Sixers a top-three pick. He was often careless and selfish with the ball despite finishing with 18 points.

By the Numbers: 

  • 7 – Games remaining.
  • 3 – Games behind the Lakers.
  • 1.5 – Lakers games behind the Magic.

Tweet of the Game:

Parting Shots:

The Sixers pulled off the overtime loss, inching one step closer to a top-three pick. The Lakers are only 1.5 games behind the Magic in the race for the fifth-worst record. If Los Angeles were to catch up with Orlando, the Sixers chances of acquiring the Lakers pick rise from 17.2 percent to 44.8 percent.

Nerlens Noel continues to impress, although he may be better suited as a center with the current Sixers acumen of big men. Henry Sims and Furkan Aldemir are not sufficient support for Noel, although the Sixers may simply be preparing him for life with Joel Embiid.

Mar 30 2015

Sixers Blow It

Philadelphia 76ers 86 Final
Recap | Box Score
87 Cleveland Cavaliers
Furkan Aldemir, PF 27 MIN | 5-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +5 +/-Aldemir gave the 76ers some strong defensive minutes and cleaned up on easy looks. 5-6 from the field. A double-double. His only miss was another attempted three. That’s pretty much a best-case scenario game for him.

Robert Covington, SF 31 MIN | 7-13 FG | 0-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | +4 +/-The two missed free-throws in the final minute sting, especially in a one-point loss, but he provided a bulk of Philadelphia’s offense. He poured in five big 3-pointers and was active looking for his shots.

Isaiah Canaan, PG 17 MIN | 3-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | +2 +/-Spent most of the night gunning for shots that weren’t there. He’s an erratic scorer, that much we know, but when doesn’t take care of the ball as well, it hurts the team. It definitely did so down the stretch today.

JaKarr Sampson, SG 17 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -5 +/-Sampson provided some solid defense and a relatively efficient offensive night. He’s so athletic and every now and then he shows these glimpses of putting it together, like when he took Shawn Marion to work in the post late in the third quarter.

Hollis Thompson, SG 24 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | 0 +/-It’s important to note that Thompson drew the toughest defensive responsibilities of the night. He had to cover LeBron most of his time on the court, and he guarded Kyrie Irving to perfection on Cleveland’s last offensive possession. He got a beat a few times, of course, but no one can stay perfect guarding the Cavs stars.

By the Numbers: 18 and 21. The Cavaliers pulled down 18 offensive rebounds to the Sixers’ 11, and 53 total to Philadelphia’s 45. The Sixers also committed 21 fouls. Both statistics point to a more aggressive and opportunistic Cleveland frontcourt.

Parting Shots: The defense did more than hold its own this game, giving LeBron plenty of trouble and holding one of the league’s hottest offenses to 87 points. In the end, it was the offense that came up short. The Sixers got every stop they needed, but couldn’t put the ball in the hoop down the stretch. Robert Covington missed two free throws with under a minute to go, and they didn’t get any real clean looks in the last two minutes.

Mar 27 2015

Clips Get The W, But Not Without A Career Night From Nerlens Noel

Los Angeles Clippers 119 Final
Recap | Box Score
98 Philadelphia 76ers
Robert Covington, SF 24 MIN | 0-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -8 +/-Ever since suffering a right elbow contusion at the month’s start, Bob’s night-to-night performance has been all over the place. Coming off of back-to-back 20+ point performances where he made a combined 15 of his 26 field goals, the Clippers held Covington to his first goose egg from the field in over four months. Not great, Bob.

Nerlens Noel, C 39 MIN | 12-17 FG | 6-8 FT | 14 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 30 PTS | -8 +/-Just an outstanding all-around performance from Noel tonight, but particularly on the offensive end. He nailed an array of jumpers, dunks, and that awkward lefty hook, and took Glenn Rivers’ Defensive Player of the Year nominee to school for a career-high 30 points. Looks like the race for Rookie of the Year isn’t as clear-cut as we thought after all

Ish Smith, PG 32 MIN | 8-14 FG | 0-1 FT | 2 REB | 9 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | -5 +/-Chris Paul does not intimidate Ish Smith. For NBA floaters like Ish, performances against an all-time point guard like he put together tonight are huge in determining his future in this league. And don’t look now (small sample size alert), but his 3-point percentage is slowly creeping towards a league-average rate after tonight’s outing.

Isaiah Canaan, PG 20 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -22 +/-After an incendiary early stretch in a Sixers uniform, Canaan’s field goal percentage has hit a brick wall since his career night against Oklahoma City — he’s hit just 34.3 percent of his shots from the field and 32.6 percent of his 3-pointers since then. At first he seemed like the clear favorite to win the starting point guard position in favor of Ish Smith, but with his shooting taking a dive, his substandard defense, and his inability to run the pick-and-roll, Canaan may be seeing a lot more of the pine in this last stretch of the season.

Henry Sims, C DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-Hank registered his ninth DNP-CD in the month of March tonight. I look forward to following his career in the Chinese Basketball Association.

Quote of the Night

“He’s got a broken-hearted girls ponytail” – Malik Rose, on Spencer Hawes’ hair.

Tweet of the Game

By the Numbers

6 - The number of other 20 year-olds besides Nerlens who have posted lines with at least 30 points, 14 rebounds, and two steals in league history. Hooray for arbitrary milestones!

Parting Shots

  • The Sixers honored Spencer Hawes at the end of the first quarter. No, seriously.
  • With about four minutes remaining in the first half, Brett Brown initiated the Hack-A-DeAndre strategy. While this is a strategically sound basketball move (it helped cut the Clippers lead from 19 down to eight going into halftime), the league seriously needs to address this issue. All it did was make an already fairly unbearable game all the more unwatchable.
  • Earlier this month, Doc Rivers quite confidently proclaimed DeAndre Jordan this season’s Defensive Player of the Year. Nerlens made that proclamation look absolutely foolish tonight however, with the bulk of his 30 points coming against Jordan. Not only that, but so far this season Nerlens is racking up more combined steals and blocks than DeAndre, while also allowing fewer of his opponents shots at the rim. Quite frankly, if DeAndre ends up with more DPOY votes than Nerlens, there needs to be an investigation.
  • This game was essentially over at the opening tip; the only point the Sixers showed some semblance of keeping this game close came after the aforementioned Hack-A-DeAndre exploits, leading to the Clippers outscoring the Sixers by 14 points in the following half. The Clippers have now won seven straight games against the Sixers dating back to 2012.

Mar 27 2015

5-on-5: Should The Sixers Re-Sign Ish Smith?

1. Ish Smith: Sign or decline? (Unrestricted free agent)

Eric Goldwein: I think Smith could be a solid backup point guard, and if they can get him for cheap (2 yr/$3M), then I’m all for it. But players like him are easy to find. (Case in point: Ish Smith). The show he’s put on the last few weeks might lead to him landing a sizeable payday, and with the Sixers already having Canaan, Wroten, draft picks, plus potentially Jordan McRae, and others, they’d be better off preserving their cap space.

Xylon Dimoff: Depends on what happens in the draft. If the Sixers end up taking (please, Hinkie, come on, seriously) D’Angelo Russell, I don’t see where Ish will find minutes in the backcourt, especially with Pierre Jackson’s cryptic tweets looming in the background. And while I see neither Ish nor Isaiah Canaan as long-term pieces on this team, I’d give a slight edge to Canaan for next season because Ish is already 26 and we can rightfully assume that he’ll never find his jumper.

Ben Smolen: I admit it. When the Sixers brought Ish Smith in, I had no idea who he was. I didn’t think to myself “Hey, this Ish Smith guy could be a pretty good add;” I thought, “Hey this Ish Smith guy has a really fun name.”  But he’s shown some shocking levels of competency since he’s been here. Ish Smith is not the future, but he could be a totally viable bench player on a good team. I would like to see him signed for a low money two year deal.

Drew Stone:  Decline, but this was the toughest one to call. Smith is probably a more well-rounded point guard than Canaan, and he’s shown flashes lately that his ceiling is something like a poor man’s Jeff Teague. But with Wroten coming back, Canaan’s three-point shooting and measly contract, and the ever-tantalizing prospect of D’Angelo Russell, it’s hard to justify keeping Ish the Dish (trademarked).

Bryan Toporek: I’m all for re-signing him on a short-term deal, so long as he’s not the team’s starting point guard come October. Something like a two-year, $4 million contract with a second-year team option sounds reasonable. Guaranteeing any money past the 2015-16 season would give me pause, though, especially with Pierre Jackson likely coming back to the team next year.

2. Thomas Robinson: Sign or decline? (Unrestricted free agent)

Goldwein: Decline. Robinson could be a productive, 15/20-minute per game high-energy player, but there might be a decent sized bidding war for him, and if that happens, the Sixers would be better off avoiding it. I’d take him for the right price (3yr/$7M); I just don’t see that being an option.

Dimoff: Sign. Even if Philly opts to go big in the draft, I think we could definitely do worse than having T-Rob as the fourth big in the rotation. I wouldn’t give him anything more than one year/$2-3 million however, as he really hasn’t proved anything in this league yet and it would give him incentive to work at his offensive game.

Smolen: Pay this man (a reasonable amount of money). T-Rob may never be a superstar, but he was taken in the top 5 for a reason, and since he’s been in Philly, he has shown real upside–rich man’s Reggie Evans, anyone? I think something in the range of one year/$4 million would be enough to bring him back without getting in the way of any future plans. After another season, we can reassess and see if he can justify his original draft position.

Stone: Absolutely sign. With the cap set to explode, lock him up in the three year, nine million range before other teams even get ideas. The correlation between Robinson’s signing this year and the team winning more as of late is real, a product of the energy and heart he exhibits off the bench. It doesn’t hurt that the former fifth-overall pick gives his young teammates a nightly reminder of the effort that’s necessary if you’re going to survive in this league, regardless of where you were drafted.

Toporek: Would love him back on a one-year, $3-4 million “prove it” deal, as his aggressiveness on the glass alone would serve as a great learning opportunity for Nerlens and Embiid in practice. Here’s hoping T-Rob recognizes that he’s getting more opportunity in Philly than he did anywhere else and agrees to a short-term deal with no guaranteed money beyond next season.

3. Hollis Thompson: Sign or decline? ($947K non-guaranteed in 2015-16, $1.02M team option in 2016-17)

Goldwein: Sign. Yes, roster spots are valuable, and Hollis doesn’t have the highest ceiling. But he’s young, he’s cheap, he’s productive (leads the Sixers in 3pt at 39%!!), and he’s tradeable. You could do far worse for a backup.

Dimoff: Sign, although it’s close. The opportunities for the roster spots on this team are going to deteriorate rapidly next season, especially with the potential for the Sixers to own 13 percent of the first round in the draft this summer. But even if Hollis ends up just being the 12th man on this squad, he’s proved his worth as a floor spacer, one of the hardest-working guys on the team, and somebody who has earned Brett Brown’s trust.

Smolen: Let him go. Admittedly, I’ve never been the biggest Hollis fan, but I feel like at this point, we know exactly what he is: not good enough to be a real contributor on a playoff team. I’d prefer to not dedicate any further monies to ole Holliswood and instead see what else is out there. Maybe Brandon Davies again? Is it too late for Brandon Davies to come back?

Stone: If you don’t need the roster spot, I guess you bring him back. The price is certainly right. I’ve never been as sold on Holliswood’s long-term role with the team as some. He can get on a hot streak, and that’s nice but expendable. Put it this way: if they had dealt Hollis at the deadline for a 2032 second-rounder, my first thought would have been “wait, you can do that?” and my second thought would have been “I’m fine with that.”

Toporek: Sign. There’s something to be said about keeping moderately productive bench players around on dirt-cheap contracts. If nothing else, it frees Hinkie up to make a big splash in free agency whenever he decides to dip his toes in those waters, knowing the 10th/11th/12th man on the roster is already accounted for. Given the health issues that wiped out a good bit of his 2014-15 season, I’d like to see Hollis back for one more year, in hopes of him becoming RoCo’s “Splash Brother” in crime.

4. Henry Sims: Sign or decline? ($1.181M qualifying offer)

Goldwein: Decline. He’s been riding the bench the last few months, and that’s with Joel Embiid still out, and Furkan Aldemir still getting his feet wet. Let him go, and maybe in a few years they can get him back, equipped with a 3-point shot.

Dimoff: What a difference six months can make. I was ready to pronounce Hank as the third or fourth rotation big in the long-term at this season’s start, but his offense has been on a seesaw all year and watching him defend the pick-and-roll is like watching a car accident. He’s decent as a floor spacer and a passer at the center position, but I have a feeling this is the best he’ll ever be. Decline.

Smolen: Show him the door. I had hope for Sims at the end of last year, and he has shown some flashes of offensive potential throughout the season, but with Noel, Embiid, a potential first round pick, and Saric clogging up the front court for years to come, I think the dollars required to keep Sims would be better spent allocated somewhere else.

Stone: It’s been a good run, Henry. You knew how to knock down a wide open ten-foot  jumper, and for that we’ll always be grateful. But all those DNP’s you’ve racked up recently are polite Brett Brown reminders that the Sixers have a gazillion draft picks this year, and they’re gonna need that roster spot.

Toporek: This depends largely on what the Sixers do in the draft. If they land a few promising bigs and don’t plan on stashing any of them abroad, they’ll have to let Sims walk. If they go heavy on guards and wings, however, the Sixers should throw the qualifying offer his way. If any other team comes out firing with a big offer (doubtful), it’s time to let him walk; otherwise, they can keep him around as a decent practice big man for one more year.

5. Luc Mbah a Moute: Sign or decline? (Unrestricted free agent)

Goldwein: Sign! I love his offensive/defensive versatility (he can be mediocre everywhere!) and his #veteraness.  Continuity and leadership are important, and if the Sixers can sign (for cheap .. $2/5M?) a low maintenance player that provides those qualities, then I’m on board.

Dimoff: Sign, but that is only if he wants to stay. I enjoy watching Luc play basketball about as much as I enjoy changing a flat tire, but I’d really like him to be here for Embiid’s first season on the court. And with Jason Richardson unlikely to return, I guess it’d be nice to have LRMAM around as the team’s token #veteran.

Smolen: Sign! My first instinct was to say decline, simply to see what tsunami of false outrage would come Philly’s way for cutting ties with yet another “veteran leader.” That said, LRMAM’s relationship with Embiid is common knowledge. As long as the cost isn’t prohibitive, then you should absolutely do what you can do to keep the potential future of your franchise happy.

Stone: (The longest, most conflicted groan in human history.) Fine, two years, ten million-ish, with two conditions: 1.) He never takes another mid-range jumper in his life, professionally or otherwise. 2.) He promises to stop mentoring Embiid if Embiid starts looking like him. I like Luc – he’s a solid glue guy, both on and off the court – but man is he tough to watch sometimes.

Toporek: Assuming the whole “veteran mentor” storyline isn’t overblown, I’d re-sign LRMAM if for no other reason than to ease Joel Embiid’s transition into playing next season. It took Nerlens a few months to emerge as the world-crushing defensive dynamo that he’s become since the All-Star break. Given how quickly the “Is Embiid Fat?” stories escalated earlier this year, I’d want Mbah a Moute around to tell JoJo to tune out the haters if he starts out slowly, too. How much is that worth on the open market? Here’s hoping no one forces Hinkie’s hand too far.

Mar 26 2015

Six Thoughts On The Sixers’ Win Over The Nuggets

1. There are plenty of teams out of playoff contention that have checked out or half-checked out in the last few weeks. The Sixers aren’t one of them. Playing on the second half of a back to back in Denver’s high altitude, the Philly looked fresher than the Nuggets, closing out on 3-point shooters, getting to loose balls, and getting back on fastbreaks. That effort and fitness edge looked like it was the difference, as the Sixers outscored the Nuggets 27-9 in the fourth quarter and escaped with a 99-85 win.

I predicted 20 wins before the season, in part because of the projected improvements on defense, but also because NBA regular season wins are not exactly prized commodities. Good teams won’t prioritize them midseason, and lottery-bound teams will give them away come spring time. This is a long way of saying: this was a nice win, but any team with a heartbeat could’ve pulled it off.

2. Nerlens Noel is playing as well as anybody could’ve imagined. The ridiculous blocks/steals numbers were expected, but he’s also shown two-way potential, with his offensive game breaking out since the deadline. Tonight he showed off an assortment of post up moves and aggressive drives to the hoop, using his athleticism and massive wingspan to get good shots off. He also had a few nice passes, and anything in that area is a great sign from a 20-year-old center. He finished 14 points (5-8 fgs), 15 boards, 2 assists, 4 steals, 4 blocks, and 2 turnovers. That’s a statline that, while more impressive in fantasy basketball, is indicative of a player who can do a lot of things. Maybe he’s not the next Kevin Garnett. But he’s looking more like the big ticket than he is to Tyrus Thomas or Sam Dalembert.

3. A lot of this can also be said about Jerami Grant. His athleticism, while impressive, isn’t much of a surprise. But on offense he’s shown that he’s more than a human highlight reel. He had three assists tonight to go along with his five blocks. He looks like someone who worst case, is hideable on offense, and best case, is a versatile two-way forward.

4. After slumping the last few weeks (coinciding with his elbow injury) Robert Covington is back doing what he does best: nailing 3-pointers. He had 25 points, shooting 6 of 11 from beyond the arc, after going 5-6 from downtown against the Kings on Tuesday.

5. Furkan Aldemir looked like a player who could one day help out a good NBA team. He was moving well and seemed to have good reads on the passing lanes as he collected two steals. He even made a few nice passes, and as usual was reliable as a rebounder (six boards, 14 minutes).

6. Development is good, and wins can be a sign of development. But the wins themselves are still detrimental to one of the team’s most important assets: the 2015 pick. The Sixers — thanks to their improved play in meaningless regular season games — are 18-54 and have the third worst record, one win behind the Lakers, two ahead of the Timberwolves, and four ahead of the Knicks. At this point, finishing with the third-most ping pong balls seems like a reasonable expectation.

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