Sixers' MCW finishing rookie season on a good note

Posted: April 11, 2014

THE WALL has been reached, but instead of running into it, Michael Carter-Williams has run right through it and is finishing this season with as much promise with which he began it. (Remember that 22-point, 12-assist, nine-steal and seven-rebound effort against the Miami Heat on Opening Night).

About 2 weeks ago, 76ers coach Brett Brown, his eyes ablaze and fists clenched and in perpetual motion, said he wanted his prized 6-6 rookie to "become a point guard in all phases of the game." He then talked of leadership, of taking care of the basketball, of pushing through that proverbial wall and taking the team by the you-know-whats and finishing out the season on an upswing. That, of course, is not an easy task, considering that, at the time, they were mired in what would become an NBA record-tying 26 game losing streak, were shuffling players on and off the roster seemingly every other day and had nothing left to play at that point of the season but pride.

Somehow, though, the coach got through to the probable NBA rookie of the year. Since the coach made his wishes public, the losing streak was snapped and Carter-Williams has provided fans with an excitement moving forward that perhaps he can be one of the premier players at his position, which is monumental when you consider that Brown calls the NBA a "point guard league."

In the past six games, starting with the losing-streak snapper against Detroit, Carter-Williams has averaged 19 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.8 assists and shot 52.5 percent from the floor. He turned the ball over only 12 times over those six games and the team has averaged 106.2 points, bringing the season average up to 99.1.

"I think he's learned how to take a system that we haven't flinched on, we haven't altered anything, and get him comfortable on how to maximize it for himself and the team," Brown said. "He's starting to understand, like [Wednesday against Toronto] they hard-showed on pick-and-rolls [getting right up on MCW after he came off the pick] and so things became available, and he knew where to go, to push it, to try to send it down a sideline. He's starting to learn where to go and where the rotations are and how it plays out. He can see two or three plays ahead. He was close enough again to a triple-double."

He finished that game with 19 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, just missing what would have been his third triple-double of the season. He is playing with a control he didn't have earlier in the season, as if he knows something now he didn't earlier.

"He's been playing under control," said Thaddeus Young. "He's been a true floor general. He's been mixing it up, taking what the defense gives him, driving the ball and taking open jumpers when he gets a chance to and distributing the basketball to make sure everyone gets a feel. He's been running the offense. I think he's been doing a very, very good job."

The part of the game MCW has given up during his recent high-quality play is the long jump shot. Not the best of outside shooters, particularly from the three-point line, Carter-Williams has attempted only six treys over the past six games, none in the last three. It might be the biggest sign of his maturity throughout this whole season.

"Throughout this whole season, I've been telling you guys and coach and the rest of my teammates that this year is a big learning experience for all of us," said Carter-Williams. "I'm trying to learn throughout the season, and I think I've improved, and so has the team. I've been trying to be more of a leader and be more assertive in everything, in playcalling or showing up as a leader. I've been more vocal. I've hung out with the guys off the court. We've gotten more comfortable with each other and the few guys that have been here for a while are comfortable with each other. I can be more of a leader on the court, and I think that they trust me. I think coach trusts me. I think I have more trust in myself.

"I've been trying to be more careful, but still taking chances here and there. I'm still trying to stay within my game and try to limit the careless turnovers. Turnovers are going to happen, I just try to limit the careless ones. The game is slowing down for me. I'm being more patient, letting things happen before I make my decisions. The game is definitely slowing down for me."

He put up those numbers on Opening Night against Miami playing at a frantic pace, the way most rookies do in their first game. Now he can get close to those numbers by playing slower, by seeing the game before it happens, by anticipating more instead of just reacting all the time. It's the progression his coach had to pull out of him a couple of weeks ago, and the results have been exactly what both wanted to see.

"I think I'm a lot better," Carter-Williams said. "I've grown a lot, I've learned a lot. I've just seen so much and learned from so many different people."



Sixers at Memphis Grizzlies

When: Tonight, 8 o’clock

Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet / ESPN (97.5 FM)

Game stuff: The Grizzlies, who are fighting for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, got a huge win at home against the Miami Heat on Wednesday. They have won 12 in a row at FedEx Forum.

Sixers at Charlotte Bobcats

When: Tomorrow, 7 p.m.

Where: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet / ESPN (97.5 FM)

Game stuff: The Bobcats are looking to make only their second playoff appearance (the other was in 2010) and are inching ever closer to making that a reality. Steve Clifford is a strong contender for coach of the year.

Boston Celtics at Sixers

When: Monday, 7 p.m.

Where: Wells Fargo Center

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet / ESPN (97.5 FM)

Game stuff: When the Celtics lost at Atlanta on Wednesday, they tied a franchise record with their 13th straight road defeat. In that game, which Boston led by nine with 5:44 to play, the Celtics turned the ball over seven times in the fourth quarter.

Sixers at Miami Heat

When: Wednesday, 8 p.m.

Where: American Airlines Arena

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet / ESPN (97.5 FM)

Game stuff: The uniforms will say “Heat,” but who is wearing them on the court probably won’t be the players we are accustomed to seeing. The final game of the season for both teams probably will mean a night of rest for some, if not all, of the Miami stars.


9: That’s how many times in the past 10 games that Henry Sims has scored 10 or more points. He had scored 10 or more only five times in his previous 34 games.

12: That’s how many points reserve Elliot Williams is averaging over the past six games, having scored in double figures in all of them.

3-16: That is the record for the Sixers in the second game of back-to-backs this season. Their last one is tomorrow at Charlotte.

On Twitter: @BobCooney76


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