Shootaround Report | 4/4 vs. Nets

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The following storylines were ones that emerged from the Sixers’ morning shootaround on Tuesday, April 4th. They play the Brooklyn Nets at The Center at 7:00 PM EST.

• For a second straight game, the Sixers announced that Dario Saric will operate under a 24-minute playing time guideline. According to the team, the decision was based more on a desire to deliver Saric to the end of the season in good health, rather than a specific injury-related matter.

Gerald Henderson and Tiago Splitter have been listed as probable for Tuesday’s tilt. Like Saric, they took part in Tuesday’s shootaround.

Sergio Rodriguez, meanwhile, remains sidelined with tightness in his left hamstring.

• A day after being chosen as the KIA NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for the second straight month, Dario Saric reflected on his latest achievement.

“I think, what I say first time, I am very proud of myself,” said Saric. “I’m very proud of especially the staff of coaches who work this year with me and work on my game.

The fruits of everyone’s labor showed in Saric’s 17 March appearances. For the month, he led all rookies in scoring (18.4 ppg) and 20-point outings (7). He also ranked second among rookies in rebounding (7.0 rpg), and manufactured a pair of double-doubles, too.

With Saric claiming March’s top rookie prize, the Sixers have now produced the East’s top rookie performer each month of the season. The honor went to Joel Embiid in October / November, December, and January.

Saric felt his efforts in March were worthy of the award.

“I push myself every game, I try to play every game, I try to be competitive every game.”

As much as Saric seemed to appreciate the March Rookie of the Month recognition, he remains focused on the Sixers’ collective priorities.

“I’m more for team,” said Saric, who will celebrate his 23rd birthday Saturday. “I’m always more up for that than get individual records, individual scores.”

Foremost on his mind is contributing to the club’s bid to reach 30 victories this season. With five games to go, including Tuesday’s Atlantic Division pairing with Brooklyn, the Sixers, in order to hit this mark, need to win two more times before their April 12th finale.

“I think this is the primary thing – the primary thing for me,” he said. “I hope other players feel the same, and we will push ourselves these last five games.”

The number 30, according to Saric, is “something special” for the eyes.

“We were a team last year got 10 wins,” Saric noted. “[Thirty wins] make a more three times better than last year, of course, would mean something for us, and mean something for organization and moving forward.

“We are almost whole season without the best player, we got like 50 games without Joel Embiid. We are like without Ben [Simmons], who is the same excellent player. Together 30 wins, I think we can be proud and that means in front of us is great future.”

• In addition to Dario Saric, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot was another Sixers rookie who enjoyed a solid March. Thrust into a starting role four weeks ago, the French wingman saw his playing time increase by roughly 10 minutes per game. For March, he averaged for 9.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists, while generating a team-best defensive rating of 100.0 points allowed per 100 possessions.

“I think the more I play, the more I prove,” Luwawu-Cabarrot said Tuesday, after shootaround. “The more the coach gives me confidence, the more confident I will be. I think my confidence at the best right now, and just keep going, try to give my best all the time.”

Luwawu-Cabarrot’s growing assertiveness and comfort were captured by two productive performances over the weekend. Friday in Cleveland, he set a new career-high with 19 points, only to re-write that mark two days later with 23 points in Toronto.

This past June, the Sixers chose the 21-year old Luwawu-Cabarrot with the 24th overall selection in the draft.

• With a gruelling segment of the schedule in the rearview, the Sixers return to The Center Tuesday to open up a four-game homestand. They’ll then close the season on the road – where they’ve played 11 of their last 14 contests – against the Knicks.

Looking ahead to the Sixers’ final five outings of the year, T.J. McConnell stressed Tuesday morning that the team is striving for a positive finish.

“We’re not out here trying to lose games,” he said. “We’re trying to represent the city of Philadelphia, the 76ers, the coaches, we’re representing one another on the court. We’re not going out here trying to lose games, that’s not what we’re about.”

• The day after his promising debut Sunday in Toronto, Alex Poythress reported to the Sixers training complex Monday, despite it being a non-practice day. He knew there was plenty for him to do, such as putting up shots, and burying his head in his new team’s playbook.

Poythress resumed his studies early Tuesday morning, prior to the Sixers’ shootaround.

“I’m just trying to get used to the plays, and the system, and get acclimated to it,” he said.

Poythress, who posted 11 points, three rebounds, and an assist in 24 minutes Sunday, told reporters Tuesday his goal for the final eight days of the season is to play with energy, and prove that he belongs in the NBA.

“I was expecting to go in and play well,” said Poythress, who was named an All-Star during his NBA Development League stint with Fort Wayne. “I’m prepared for this. I grinded all year. It’s what I’ve been dreaming of, it’s what I’ve been working hard for.”

Poythress, a four-year Kentucky product, thinks the Sixers’ style of play – with their emphasis on dribble hand-offs, passing, and spreading the floor – suits him well.

“There’s no weight on my shoulders, or anything,” said the 23-year old forward. “Just trying to go out there and have fun, and play basketball.”

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