Sixers should be good (and interesting). Time to get the season started. | Off the Dribble
The 76ers have two All-Stars, several new players, and a huge first game at home against the Boston Celtics.
You ready for the regular season?
If so, join the club. Preseason NBA basketball is a tease. Right now, folks have watched the 76ers destroy a Guangzhou Loong-Lions squad that wouldn’t be able to beat a Power Five conference NCAA squad. Then they unveiled different lineups while toying with the Charlotte Hornets, Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons. And they saw them brick a bunch of three-point shots in a lackluster loss to the lowly Washington Wizards.
But we really won’t know how good the Sixers are until Wednesday night’s season-opener against the Boston Celtics at the Wells Fargo Center.
And, boy, should that be an interesting one with free-agent acquisition Al Horford facing his former team. Plus, the Sixers and Celtics are longstanding Atlantic Division rivals. So Wednesday night’s matchup is going to be interesting.
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— Keith Pompey (email@example.com)
Things have definitely changed
Don’t mind Brett Brown if the coach sheds a tear of joy at the start of the season-opener.
Having a starting lineup such as the one he’s about to put on the court has been a long time coming. The Sixers have arguably the league’s best center in two-time All-Star Joel Embiid. The group also includes All-Star point guard Ben Simmons, five-time All-Star Horford, fringe All-Star Tobias Harris, and Josh Richardson, one of the league’s top two-way players.
Not bad for a franchise that was the laughingstock of the NBA during Brown’s first three seasons. One of the lasting moments from that 18-win season was when Brown sounded off on the final day of the season about the Sixers’ high-volume roster turnover.
First, the Sixers head coach was disappointed that player Brandon Davies had been traded that December, saying the move made it tough to build a team and culture. Then later, Brown expressed reluctance to coach a team of “gypsies.”
Managing partner Josh Harris hinted that the Sixers would take on a third year of their epic rebuilding process during the 2015-16 season. Hearing that, Brown noted that he expected a lot less roster turnover.
“To coach gypsies, to have to coach a revolving door," he said, "that’s not what I’m looking for.”
Horford has proven to be the ultimate teammate. Horford, entering his 13th NBA season and his first with the Sixers, has been a team-first guy dating all the way to his college days at Florida, writes Marc Narducci.
The Sixers and Milwaukee Bucks are favored in the Eastern Conference. Philly must replace Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick, while Milwaukee has to find someone to fill in for Malcolm Brogdon, writes Ed Barkowitz.
There’s a big pact, a big role for Harris this season. I write that the newly re-signed Sixer is expected to blossom in Butler’s absence.
Horford couldn’t pass up the opportunity to compete for an NBA title alongside Simmons, Embiid and Harris. I write, however, that facing the Celtics on Wednesday will be weird for the former Boston standout.
Brown and the Sixers might reach the finish line together this season. Bob Ford writes that Brown went through more losing than coaches usually survive, but he is a survivor.
Bending over interview flow
Now this was different.
Joel Embiid didn’t want to be photographed by a team photographer during media availability. So the mammoth All-Star center, all 7-foot-2 and 280 pounds of him, bent over while answering questions. At one point, he put his blue practice jersey over his mouth while speaking. Yet, the media continued to ask questions as if everything was normal.
The problem is I could barely hear his responses to the questions he was asked. Maybe next time, the media should also bend over or, better yet, sit on the floor on the practice court with legs crossed. Knowing Embiid, he’ll one-up the media by being positioned atop a 20-foot, double-rail, swivel ladder tree stand.
Important dates: First five games
Wednesday: Boston Celtics at Sixers, 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia and ESPN
Saturday: Sixers at Detroit Pistons, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Oct. 28: Sixers at Atlanta Hawks, 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Oct. 30: Minnesota Timberwolves at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Nov. 2: Sixers at Portland Trail Blazers, 10 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia and NBA TV
Passing the rock
Question: What is this team missing and can it be addressed via a trade or a signing before the all-star break? — @coachskipbball on Twitter
Answer: What’s up, @coachskipbball? I remember you from my days of covering high school basketball. Thanks for the question. This team needs someone to come off the bench to be a designated scorer and/or three-point specialist. As much as the Sixers are hyped, trust me, they won’t get out of the Eastern Conference without that type of player. Yes, that can be addressed via trade or a signing before the All-Star break.
Jamal Crawford would be perfect for that role, and he’s available. Some might point out that he’s 39 years old. Yes, that’s true. But he gets buckets and he’s a clutch three-point shooter. Crawford also would mentor the young players on the team. He already has a big brother-type of relationship with Matisse Thybulle. So it would only make sense to sign Crawford.
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