Good morning, Sixers fans. There is a lot to like about the team’s 5-1 start after Saturday’s 127-112 win over the Charlotte Hornets. We know they haven’t exactly played world beaters, but in the past, they didn’t always clean up on the lesser lights of the NBA.
The team was off from practice Sunday, with the players having a “film, recovery day,” before again hosting the Hornets on Monday.
Most of the Sixers have gotten off to good starts, including two-time All-Star Ben Simmons.
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A big Ben backer
Since the opening of training camp, Sixers coach Doc Rivers has voiced his opinion that Ben Simmons is one of the best players in the NBA and that he didn’t care about his reluctance to shoot from the outside.
Before Saturday’s win, Rivers was asked about Simmons’ making his only three-point attempt of the season during Thursday’s 116-92 win in Orlando.
“You guys can count all his threes. I am going to count all the wins,” Rivers said.
After the game, the praise continued.
“Ben has been, in my opinion, as good as anyone in the league defensively,” Rivers said.
Simmons, a first-team all-defensive selection last season, has been strong defensively, although he and the rest of the Sixers had trouble guarding Charlotte’s Terry Rozier, who finished with 35 points.
According to NBA.com stats, Rozier went 4-for-4 with Simmons as the primary defender, including three three-pointers.
That said, here is how some other noted scorers fared with Simmons as the primary defender according to NBA.com stats.
Russell Westbrook, 5-for-9, 0-for-0 from three
RJ Barrett, 1-for-8, 0-for-4 from three
Pascal Siakam, 3-for-11, 1-for-6 from three
Markelle Fultz, 1-for-6, 0-for-0 from three
Notice the different level of players, from quick point guards such as Westbrook and Fultz to a swingman such as Barrett to a power forward such as Siakam.
In addition to his defense, Simmons earned a triple-double against the Hornets with 15 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.
Now in his fourth season, Simmons has recorded 29 career triple-doubles, 14th all-time, according to basketball-reference.com. To put this stat in perspective, Michael Jordan had 28 career triple-doubles.
Here are the career leaders according to basketball-reference.com. (Basketball-reference.com notes that the NBA didn’t begin recording triple-doubles until 1979, but has a list of all known triple-doubles since 1950-51 when rebounds became an official statistic. Basketball-reference.com acknowledges that a small number may be unaccounted.)
Oscar Robertson, 181
Russell Westbrook, 150
Magic Johnson, 138
Jason Kidd, 107
LeBron James, 95
Wilt Chamberlain, 78
Larry Bird, 59
James Harden, 46
Nikola Jokic, 44
Fat Lever, 43
Bob Cousy, 33
Rajon Rondo, 32
John Havlicek, 31
Ben Simmons, Grant Hill, 29
This season Simmons is averaging 13.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 3.7 turnovers. With added scoring option Seth Curry and the continued emergence of Shake Milton, Simmons won’t have to score as much as he did in the past.
The Sixers’ fast-paced, unselfish play has led to many wide-open shots, which they have been hitting.
Keith Pompey provides his best/worst awards from the Sixers’ win over Charlotte.
Here are my quick takes from the Sixers’ win over Charlotte, including a video highlight of a monster dunk by Tobias Harris.
Among the issues that Pompey addresses in his Sixers mailbag is the importance that Danny Green brings to the starting lineup.
Pompey writes that Rivers is looking for Matisse Thybulle to be a key factor for the Sixers.
Curry begins as advertised as a shooter
Sixers guard Seth Curry has gotten off to a hot shooting start, which continues a career pattern. Curry is shooting 17-for-33 from three-point range (.515), making him 11th in the NBA in three-point percentage. Curry has also made all 16 of his foul shots.
He is fifth in the NBA in effective field-goal percentage (.711), a statistic that takes into consideration the additional difficulty of three-point shots and the extra points awarded for making a three-pointer. Here is a calculator.
He is second all-time in NBA career three-point percentage (44.52%), trailing just Steve Kerr (45.40%).
“I am doing nothing different, just getting good shots and when I find good shots, I am going to shoot them at this clip,” Curry said after Saturday’s win. “It’s just a function of our offense. The way we are playing, everybody is a threat out there by touching the ball; everybody is involved. We’ve got a lot of different layers to our offense, so we are tough to guard right now.”
Monday: Charlotte at Sixers, 7 p.m., Wells Fargo Center, NBC Sports Philadelphia
Wednesday: Washington Wizards at Sixers, 7 p.m., Wells Fargo Center, NBC Sports Philadelphia
Thursday: Sixers at Brooklyn Nets, 7:30 p.m., Barclays Center, TNT
Saturday: Denver Nuggets at Sixers, 3 p.m., Wells Fargo Center, NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBA TV
Jan. 11: Sixers at Atlanta Hawks, 7:30 p.m., State Farm Arena, NBC Sports Philadelphia
Passing the rock
Question: Knowing that the offense is built around Embiid’s ability to draw double teams out of the post, what is the contingency plan for how the offense will run when Embiid sits due to load management or injury? — Lata Vorn from Facebook
Answer: That is an excellent question, Lata, and thanks for submitting it. As you know, the one game Embiid missed, things didn’t go so well. The Sixers lost by 118-94 at Cleveland and shot 33-for-79 (.418) from the field, including 12-for-37 (.324) from three-point range.
Without Embiid drawing double teams, the Sixers should look for Simmons to penetrate more, draw a second defender while going to the basket and kick it out. If he doesn’t draw that extra defender, then Simmons should take it strong to the hoop.
I would expect the Sixers to set more high screens to get shooters better looks because without having to worry about Embiid, the Sixers have to work a little harder to get good perimeter shots. In addition, I expect the Sixers to play even more of a transition game without Embiid, in hopes of getting some easy baskets.