Takeaways from Sixers’ Preseason Opener
The new-look Sixers played their first game together Tuesday night in a preseason matchup against the Boston Celtics. After a good showing on both sides of the floor, they would walk away with a 108-99 victory. Here are some key takeaways from the team's first taste of action this season.
Breath of fresh air on offense
The hiring of Doc Rivers meant that we were going to see the Sixers in a new offensive system. Two things that Rivers talked about implementing was a faster pace and a bigger pick-and-roll presence. Both things were prominent in Tuesday's game against the Celtics.
From the opening tip, the Sixers played at a much faster pace than we are accustomed to seeing. After almost every defensive stop the team broke out into transition no matter who came down with the rebound. We even saw Joel Embiid initiate the offense at times off a defensive rebound.
The faster pace allowed much more play in the open floor and the Sixers to get some easy looks on offense early in the shot clock in the process.
The increased pick-and-roll play also created some easier looks for the offense. Multiple combinations thrived in the pick-and-roll together, but two that stood out were the Curry/Embiid and Milton/Howard combos.
The offense looked shaky at times, but this was expected with all the new moving parts from this offseason. With all the new additions the Sixers' offense looks like a night and day change from what we saw last season.
The defense is in midseason form
Building a defensive powerhouse was the theme of the 2019 offseason. Despite sacrificing some size and length, the Sixers still look just as strong defensively.
No matter who was on the floor last night, the Sixers always showed great energy on the defensive side of the ball. The starters set the tone coming out and bering very active in the passing lanes, tipping passing and picking up multiple steals.
The Sixers grabbed 11 steals total in their win over the Celtics. Seven different players grabbed at least one steal, and Danny Green had four in his Sixers' debut.
Along with how well they defended on the perimeter, the bigs also did a good job defending at the rim. Whether it was Embiid, Dwight Howard, or Tony Bradley the Sixers always had a strong last line of defense.
The offense looked rusty at times, but the defensive was clicking on all cylinders from start to finish. Doc Rivers said he felt this group could be the top defensive team in the league this year, and last night they gave a glimpse as to why.
Spacing, Spacing, Spacing
Improved floor spacing was the major change we expected to see this season, and we got just that. The floor was much more open on offense than we saw throughout last season.
Although the team shot 7-29 from deep, the spacing on the floor still had a great impact. The lane was wide open for Embiid to attack in the post and opened lanes for cutting players.
This improved spacing created much easier opportunities for slashing players to get easy looks right at the rim. We even saw a posting Ben Simmons find a slashing Joel Embiid for easy layups (as crazy as that sounds, yes it happened).
The open floor also allowed Tobias Harris to attack mismatches on offense. Rivers talked about wanting to get Harris going downhill more, and we saw flashes of that in the pick-and-roll with Embiid.
When the jump shots start to fall, the floor should only open up more. The open floor will do wonders for Embiid, Simmons, and Harris on the offensive end.
When everything was said and done it was a strong first impression from the Sixers. Some areas still need to be worked through, but this team looks ready for the start of the regular season on the 23rd.
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