With the 76ers' slate of preseason games drawing to a close, Maurice Cheeks said the team's priority is escaping "injury-free."
Before last night's 91-83 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cheeks said he would look to distribute "game-like" minutes to his go-to players.
Throwing a wrench into the coach's plan was center Samuel Dalembert, who missed last night's game and likely will miss tonight's preseason finale at New Jersey with a right-knee bruise-sprain.
Cheeks said he wished Dalembert was healthy so he could play his starters - Andre Miller, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Elton Brand, and Dalembert - in game situations.
Last night, Cheeks started Theo Ratliff in place of Dalembert, but rookie Marreese Speights (10 points, six rebounds) saw much of the late-game time at that spot.
Iguodala, who finished with 19 points, said it's tough playing games knowing that the priority is not getting hurt.
"But you play through it and understand you're out there to work out the kinks as a team," he said.
The Sixers' most glaring kink last night was their 0-for-9 effort from the three-point line. Last season, the Sixers were last in the NBA from beyond the arc.
"We have to do a better job making threes," Cheeks said. "All we can do is put the work in. . . . We'll continue working on that aspect."
Cheeks has said throughout the preseason he would not expand the rotation to include all 12 eligible players, but rather define the rotation early.
"The guys who will be playing will separate themselves," Cheeks said. "We have tomorrow night and then a week of practice."
The Sixers (3-3) open the regular season next Wednesday at home against the Toronto Raptors.
"We're anxious," Brand said. "We're anxious to put the preseason behind us."
Notes. Through five preseason games, guard Kareem Rush, who was acquired in the off-season to shore up the perimeter shooting, is 2 for 10 from the three-point line. Cheeks said he would "like to see him hit more, that's for sure." . . . The Sixers brought back Bobby Jones, sixth man from the '83 championship team, to reminisce about the Spectrum. "I felt very secure there," Jones said. "It was an intimate place, you knew everybody there, even the fans." . . . Former St. Joseph's star and current Cavs guard Delonte West, who recently disclosed he had considered quitting basketball because of a mood disorder, would not speak to reporters before last night's game. After the game, West said he would talk only about basketball.