How good are the Sixers? Early road games should say a lot about that. | Off the Dribble
The 76ers play six of their next seven away from Philly, including a four-game West Coast trip to Portland, Phoenix, Utah and Denver.
What’s up, people?
Y’all ready to learn about the 76ers’ identity, especially in hostile environments?
Beginning Saturday, they’ll play six of seven games on the road. They’ll travel to Detroit for Saturday’s 7 p.m. matchup with the Pistons before a road tilt against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday. Then after Wednesday’s home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Sixers will embark on a tough West Coast trip against the Portland Trail Blazers (Nov. 2), the Phoenix Suns (Nov. 4), the Utah Jazz (Nov. 6) and the Denver Nuggets (Nov. 8).
As a favorite to win the NBA title, the Sixers have a great chance to win all of these games. Yet, they could also lose a few, especially to Portland, Utah, and Denver, with outside shooting being their early-season Achilles’ heel.
The next seven games should be telling, and the Inquirer and Inquirer.com will keep you posted.
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What will Joel Embiid do to Andre Drummond?
That’s a huge question heading into Pistons game.
Will he get the Pistons center out of his game with endless trash talk? If so, will he boast about it at the conclusion of the game? Or will Embiid remain quiet in a matchup showcasing two of the NBA elite centers?
Based on the players’ history, the odds are against Embiid remaining quiet. He makes a habit of dominating Drummond, and letting him know about it.
Embiid even said, “I feel like I own a lot of real estate in his head” after frustrating Drummond in the Pistons’ 133-132 overtime victory on Oct. 23, 2018 in Detroit.
Embiid backed up those words in the Sixers’ 109-99 home victory on Nov. 3, 2018. He dominated Drummond, a two-time All-Star, and everyone else Detroit used to defend him. Embiid, also a two-time All-Star, finished with 39 points and game highs of 17 rebounds and two blocks.
Embiid noted that he saw Drummond was scared by the look in his eyes.
The Piston only played 4 minutes, 22 seconds in the first half due to picking up three fouls. His former backup, Zaza Pachulia, was also pulled in the first half after picking up his fourth foul. He saw 9:40 of action. Embiid felt Drummond and Pachulia tried to flop a lot.
“At the end of the day, I kicked both of their [butts],” Embiid said back then. “So whoever was guarding me, we got the win.”
But the trash talking didn’t stop there.
After the game, Embiid took a shot at Drummond on Instagram: “I own a lot of real estate in @Andredrummondd head and I’m on my way to build more #Bum #TheProcess"
So Saturday night’s matchup should be quite entertaining. Embiid averages 29 points and 10.7 rebounds against Detroit.
Why not Furkan Korkmaz? Sixers coach Brett Brown asked that question when talking about developing someone to become a potent three-point threat.
Defense waiting for offense to catch up. Bob Ford writes the grind of a six-month season has begun for the Sixers, and so has the learning curve.
Sixers podcast: Dissecting the Sixers defensive domination in the season-opening victory over the Boston Celtics.
Wells Fargo Center adds ban on political signs. Rob Tornoe writes the updates ban fans from displaying materials that are “political, ideological, or commercial in nature.” All this comes amid the NBA’s spat with China.
Adjustment time. Marc Narducci writes the Sixers will likely take awhile to feel comfortable offensively.
Trip down memory lane
Seeing the Sixers win their first season-opener since the 2013-14 season takes me back to that season. It was Brett Brown’s first season of their head coach, and everyone in the NBA knew the team was tanking. Well, not quite everyone.
Brown’s roster of mostly fringe NBA players actually thought they were competitive after opening that season with a 3-0 record. The Sixers did eventually finish that season with a league-second worst 19-63 record.
But the Sixers knocked off the then two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat in the season-opener at the Wells Fargo Center. They followed that up with a road win over the Washington Wizards before beating the Chicago Bulls at home the next night.
It marked the first time since the 2006-07 campaign that the Sixers opened the season with three consecutive victories.
“We understand . . . what everyone has said about us,” Brown said at the time of the Sixers being picked to finish last in the NBA. "Our guys have put in the day-to-day stuff, which has always been our message.
"We just want to knock out great days. And I think that those days have added up."
Michael Carter-Williams was the star of the Bulls game. The Sixers rookie point guard outplayed former league MVP Derrick Rose.
But this 3-0 start turned out to be the highlight of a season that included the Sixers losing 26 straight games, matching the record for consecutive losses by a U.S. professional team.
Important Dates: Next five games
Saturday: Sixers at Detroit Pistons, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Monday: Sixers at Atlanta Hawks, 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Wednesday: 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
Nov. 4: Sixers at Phoenix Suns, 9 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Passing the Rock
Question: Have the Sixers’ personnel changes seriously jeopardized their outside shooting, which would take pressure off the bigs? — @johnquinn83 on Twitter
Answer: What’s up, @johnquinn83? I hope you are doing well, and great question. The answer is yes. You received proof of that during Wednesday’s season-opener against the Boston Celtics. The Sixers are now a towering squad that suffocates squads defensively with their size and athleticism. However, they no longer have a designated three-point shooter that will provide pacing for Joel Embiid. The All-Star center was double- and triple-teamed. He did a solid job of passing it out, but the Sixers’ perimeter players kept bricking three-point shots. They ended up shooting 7 for 29 from deep.
JJ Redick would have torched the Celtics from outside last season for double- and triple-teaming Embiid. Plus, Redick’s sharpshooter ability would have forced Boston to have a defender trail him at all times. That in turn would open things up for Embiid.
However, obtaining someone like Horford was a higher priority than retaining Redick.
Send questions by email or on Twitter (@PompeyOnSixers)