Although they face another difficult challenge on their road trip, the Philadelphia 76ers are expected to finally get some help from last season’s top rookie as they look to put an end to their worst start in 42 years.
With Michael Carter-Williams set to make his season debut, the 76ers will try to capture their elusive first victory Thursday night when they seek their first road win over the Dallas Mavericks in nearly 10 years.
Carter-Williams, the 11th pick in the 2013 draft, joined Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson as the only rookies to finish with at least 16 points, six rebounds and six assists per game.
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He also became the first player drafted 10th or later to win the Rookie of the Year award since New York’s Mark Jackson in 1987.
Carter-Williams, however, has been sidelined since undergoing surgery on his right shoulder in May. Now the point guard’s long-awaited return gives the 76ers (0-7) something positive to build on.
"I doubt I’m going to play him big minutes (right away)," coach Brett Brown told the NBA’s official website. "He’s still gifted, and he makes us better, but he hasn’t really played much real basketball in a while, and you see that."
Carter-Williams had 25 points, six assists and five rebounds in a 124-112 home loss in his only meeting with Dallas on Feb. 21. Tony Wroten has played well in his absence, averaging team highs of 21.9 points and 6.7 assists while ranking among the league leaders with 2.7 steals per game.
Still, the 76ers are off to their worst start since dropping their first 15 on the way to an NBA-record 73 losses in 1972-73. They began a four-game trip that includes stops in Houston and San Antonio with a 120-88 loss to Toronto on Sunday.
It might be difficult to snap the skid in Dallas, where they’ve dropped eight straight since a 93-89 win in January 2005.
The 76ers have struggled defensively in their last two games, allowing 238 points and 19-of-41 shooting from 3-point range. Dallas (5-3) is among the NBA leaders with 8.6 made 3s per game after going 10 for 27 in Tuesday’s 106-98 win over visiting Sacramento.
Dirk Nowitzki, who has hit 17 of 35 from beyond the arc, scored 23 as Dallas overcame a 24-point deficit – the third-biggest comeback in franchise history.
The star forward surpassed Hakeem Olajuwon for ninth on the all-time scoring list by increasing his point total to 26,953. Next up is Elvin Hayes with 27,313.
”You know to pass `The Dream’ is unbelievable,” said Nowitzki, in his 17th season with the Mavericks. ”He was unguardable on the block. His footwork, his skill level, his hands, his touch was second to none, so I’m pretty proud.”
After totaling nine points on 2-of-20 shooting in his previous two games, Chandler Parsons scored 19 and made five 3-pointers Tuesday. While he was with Houston, Parsons averaged 20.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists in his last three against the 76ers.
Jameer Nelson hopes to play for the Mavericks after briefly leaving the game with a hamstring injury, while Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel is questionable after missing the past two with an ankle injury.