Posts for sixers

Ben Simmons Is Not Taking Any Shit

Kevin Kinkead - January 15, 2018

Ben Simmons downplayed the dust-up between himself and Philly native Kyle Lowry at the end of the Sixers’ 117-111 win over the Raptors on Monday afternoon.

It was late in the fourth quarter when Simmons and Lowry began jawing at each other during a pair of Sixer free throws, continuing through the inbound play and leading to double ejections:

Meet me in the locker room?

Yeah! I’ll be right there. 

(paraphrasing)

Simmons was asked post-game if there was any hallway altercation between himself and Lowry, which lead to this dialogue with the media:

Simmons: “Off the court? No.”

Jack McCaffery/Delco Times: “There were words between you two on the court. Do you care to share what was said?”

Simmons: “Nah. It’s nothing.

Keith Pompey/Inquirer: “You guys weren’t separated in the back?”

Simmons: “Separated? Nah, I just went to the locker room. Nobody was back there.”

Pompey: “I heard he was trying to come at you.”

Simmons: (shrugs) “I don’t know where he’s at.”

Pompey: “So what happened?”

Simmons: “Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe frustration that they’re down, that they’re about to lose. I don’t know what it is.”

Pompey: “It seems like you’re not going to back down from anybody.”

Simmons: “Maybe they’re just trying to test me, or see how I am on the court. But I don’t play around. I’m not going to take shit from anybody.”

There ya go, Ben. First time I’ve heard him drop an expletive since I’ve been on the beat. That’s the second time in two games he’s had bit of a brush-up with a Philly-born player, which he joked about after that exchange.

For what it’s worth, I asked Brett Brown what he saw between Lowry and Simmons, and he didn’t deflect at all:

“I think if you go back and look at the tape, you’re gonna see (Jakob) Poeltl just duck in and hit the hell out of Ben on an alleged sort of box out – I think when the game was effectively over. I think you’re going to see that sort of trigger the things that went on. As far as what happened after that with Ben and Kyle, I don’t know. But the Poeltl box out on Ben, have a look at that if you get a chance.”

Let’s have a look.

If you go back and watch the final 30 seconds, you see Lowry sort of hook Simmons’ arm on Joel Embiid’s last set of free throws:

Later, on the Dario Saric free throws, you see the Poeltl box out that Brett is talking about:

During that free throw, Simmons and Lowry were jawing the entire time. It looks like the Poeltl shove annoys Ben even further.

So there you go. That is the context I am able to provide.

Kyle: I’m am so Natalie Imbruglia here. On one hand, Ben Simmons’ balls just dropped before our very eyes and he dropped a four-letter world in his press conference. On the other hand, Kyle Lowry just donated $1 million to my alma mater and is one of my favorite athletes who walked off the plane upon landing in Philly singing FLY EAGLES FLY. Torn.

Sixers Notes: Markelle Fultz Continues to Shoot a Basketball

Kevin Kinkead - January 14, 2018

While Leonard Fournette was throttling the Pittsburgh Steelers on national television, Markelle Fultz was back at it in Camden, throwing up a variety of end-of-practice shots at 75% effort.

When we walked into the gym on Sunday afternoon, he was doing 1v1 drills with Justin Anderson and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot under the watchful eye of Brett Brown.

That included some drives to the rim, some mid-range stuff, free-throws, and even some three-pointers as well, which you can see in the clips below:

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Never Mind the Bollocks: Four Observations from Celtics 114, Sixers 103

Kevin Kinkead - January 12, 2018

Still time left to enter our $500 tailgating giveaway from AmeriGas. The prize includes a portable grill, a portable heat lamp, two tailgating chairs with sunshade, a hose to hook it all up, and $200 worth of apparel from the Crossing Broad Store. You can enter here.

 

You didn’t expect them to hold a 22-point lead for the rest of the game, did you? You didn’t expect JJ Redick to shoot lights out for 48 minutes, nor did you expect the Celtics to play like crap for that same amount of time.. right?

Say what you will about the Sixers, but Boston just kicked it up a notch at the end of the second quarter. They finally showed some urgency and started playing the type of defense that makes them the best team in the east, with the NBA’s second-highest winning percentage.

Runs happen. You can’t blow a 22-point lead if you don’t build a 22-point lead in the first place, so the Sixers obviously do not “suck,” nor should Brett Brown be fired for this problem specifically. Instead, Sixer fans should be happy that the team is actually building any kind of lead at all for the first time in five seasons. That’s the glass half-full approach – a “good problem to have” for a fledgling group.

If they were losing by 22 in the 2nd quarter and went on to lose by 22, that’s something entirely different, and basically what we saw throughout the “Process” era. The problem is that a young team with mental fragility just doesn’t respond well to adversity. They are easily spooked and begin to turn the ball over. The basketball that got them there – up tempo, fluid, and rhythmic – starts to become jerky and disjointed. They build these leads with a fast pace and knock-down three-point shooting, and when that isn’t working, those leads disappear with the same brevity at which they were created.

In a way, this team really reminds me of, say, Chip Kelly’s Oregon Duck offense. They spread the ball out, push the tempo, and score points in bunches. Then, when Stanford figures it out and starts making tackles and shutting down your speedy attack, Oregon has no clue what to do. They can’t line up in I-formation and hand the ball to the fullback. They can’t run Corey Clement six times in a row. How do you play with a lead?

That’s the Sixers. Brett Brown has to figure out some way to shift out of 1st gear and teach Ben Simmons to manage the game in different ways, because they only really know one speed and one style right now. Ideally, you’re tossing the ball to Joel Embiid in the post and letting him work in a more deliberate, half-court style. But when he plays like he did yesterday, how effective is that? I don’t know what they can really do with this personnel grouping right now. Markelle Fultz should help as a guy who can theoretically create off the dribble.

As an inexperienced team that plays this style, the growing pains are what they are. The real killer is watching veteran guys like Jerryd Bayless throw the ball away on careless entry passes: Continue Reading

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Thank God the Sixers Passed on Lonzo Ball and His ESPN-Enabled Father

Tim Reilly - January 9, 2018

It’s fair to say that Markelle Fultz’s rookie campaign has not gone according to plan.

Fultz, a player whose talents so intrigued the Sixers front office that GM Bryan Colangelo traded in some of the team’s prized draft assets to move into the No. 1 slot in order to select him, was supposed to be the culmination of the organization’s multi-season rebuild. At the very least, fans expected him to play a significant role as the Sixers shifted from “The Process” to the postseason.

So far, the Sixers’ young slasher has been stuck in neutral. Fultz labored through a shoulder injury that affected his jump shot and ultimately pushed him out of the lineup after four games.

There’s hope on the horizon, however. Kevin Kinkead’s Sunday notebook included a lengthy update on Fultz’s progress. The rookie’s participation in a full contact practice suggests his return to game action is imminent. The Sixers would certainly stand to benefit from Fultz’s presence in the rotation as they look to make a playoff push during the second half of the season.

No matter what happens this season, the Sixers made the right choice when they drafted Fultz. Ever since the NBA modified its hand-checking rule in 2004-05, point guards have never been more integral to the success of a team. The space-and-pace revolution that has overtaken the game demands a team employ a ball handler who can take advantage of overextended defenses by driving and dishing to open teammates. He also needs to be a perimeter scoring threat on his own who, ideally, can play off the ball as well. After all, the organizations that are excelling in the modern NBA are attacking defenses with multiple athletes who can run the offense.

Fultz’s ability to penetrate and pass to open teammates will make him a good player. But the three-point shooting ability he demonstrated in college will make him special.

There’s still time for Fultz to refine his game, of course. He’s only 19, and in the collegiate one-and-done culture that has been created in the wake of the NBA’s minimum age requirement, more and more players are starting their professional careers as raw prospects. Fultz likely won’t begin to hit his prime until his second contract.

Looking back on the 2017 NBA draft, there was really only one other viable option that the Sixers could have considered with the first pick. They could have taken a chance on Lonzo Ball. Continue Reading

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The Sixers’ Turnover Issue Isn’t as Bad as We Make it Out to Be

Kevin Kinkead - January 9, 2018

This story could begin and end by attributing the Sixers’ turnover problem to the fact that they start a rookie point guard and a second-year big man with a top-five NBA usage rate.

You have to expect growing pains while bringing along a 21 and 23-year-old at the same time, then throwing 19-year-old Markelle Fultz into the mix. No one should be surprised that Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are ranked 5th and 6th, respectively, in raw turnovers per game.

Their trouble with the ball, plus contribution from the supporting cast, places the Sixers dead last in the NBA with 17.8 turnovers per game. Casual observers, and even some who are more dialed in, identify the issue as one of the key things keeping this team from taking the next step forward.

They’re not wrong. Fewer turnovers results in more meaningful possessions, which results in more shots, which results in more scoring opportunities.

No shit, yeah?

But it’s not necessarily about turnovers in a vacuum. Rather, it’s looking at the number as it applies to the Sixers’ style of play and offensive identity, which is predicated on up-tempo transitional movement and sharing the basketball.

Case in point, the 33-8 Golden State Warriors, who have the NBA’s best record. Golden State commits 16 turnovers per game, good for third-worst in the NBA. They consistently lose the ball and consistently win games. What gives? Continue Reading

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Jahlil Okafor Says He Was “Dying” to Play While Sixers Sought a Trade Partner

Kevin Kinkead - January 9, 2018

Jahlil Okafor is the latest athlete to tell his story on the Player’s Tribune. It’s a lengthy and interesting read.

For context, you probably know that the athletes don’t actually write these stories. They do a lengthy interview, which is more of a conversation, and a ghostwriter puts everything together. John Boruk mentioned this a while back and got blasted into the high heavens for it. I’m not sure what was up with that. I think Flyers fans feel like Boruk has something against Shayne Gostisbehere, hence the backlash.

Anyhow, Jah’s story is called, “Jahlil Okafor should be on your radar RIGHT NOW!!!,” a reference to the emails his father wrote to college athletic directors back in 2009.

He talks about the emotional loss of his mother at age nine and his ensuing move to Chicago’s South Side. He describes playing his dad one-on-one and the attention he received as a six foot tall fifth grader. There are a lot of detailed personal moments in the write up.

Jahlil also explains his tumultuous exit from the Sixers in a way that shows understanding, yet disappointment with how it all went down:

I just wanted to play basketball — that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. But I didn’t fit into Philly’s plans. And I totally understood why Coach couldn’t play me. They’re trying to build those guys into a playoff contender — and I wasn’t going to be there when that happened. So it didn’t make sense for them to have me in the rotation.

But, man, it’s still tough. And you still want to play.

It was like everybody knew I was gone … and we were all just waiting for it to happen.

 

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Sixers Notes: Markelle Fultz and the Full Contact Practice

Kevin Kinkead - January 7, 2018

No Markelle Fultz videos today, since he was finished training by the time media was allowed into the gym.

We did get an update from Brett Brown, who says the rookie guard is coming along nicely.

“He didn’t go through the full practice today, but he went through the large majority of it,” Brown said. “Anything that had transition defense, or play calls, or slides, or passing drills – he went through the whole thing, in relation to, he had the ability to do whatever I wanted. He didn’t go through the entire practice, but he was available to do a very large majority of it.

“He played five-on-five and got up and down the court in a more detailed, lengthy way. I think that’s the thing that stands out the most, that he was more available to do things that he had been less available to do in the past.”

That included full contact, according to Brown, who says Fultz will travel to London, though he’s not expected to play. There’s no target date for a return, though 1/15 against Toronto, MLK Day, seems like it would be the goal.

“I thought his rise-up looked pretty good,” Brown added. “He didn’t shoot any threes. But that skill that he has, as I’ve said to everybody, it connects the dots. And when you don’t have it, you realize it even more. He can create a shot for himself. He can create a shot for others. He’s got a lot of wiggle to his game. That was different. He’s different than all of our players.”

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Sixers Notes: More Markelle Video and the Justin Anderson/Jrue Holiday Connection

Kevin Kinkead - January 5, 2018

You wanted it, so here it is – more Markelle Fultz practice video.

He again worked on the far court Friday morning, going through a variety of shooting exercises with Sixers staff:

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