South Philadelphia welcomed the new look Sixers by way of a sell out crowd tonight at Wells Fargo Center. Coming off a hard-fought loss in Washington, the Sixers obtained their second loss in as many games to start the 2017-18 campaign in what was a brutal game to watch.
There has been a lot of turnover in the starting lineup and rotations that Brett Brown has put together as free agents, rookies, and veterans like Joel Embiid and Jerryd Bayless return from injury. As fast-paced and rhythmic as the offense looked in scoring 115 points against the Wizards, the team looked exactly the opposite tonight. For a long stretch of the first half, it seemed as though neither team couldn’t go back-to-back possessions without committing a foul, yet Philadelphia found itself with a slim 50-48 lead at the half.
While the defense looks solid at times, the Sixers offense was lethargic for much of the game – standing around, forcing too many jumpers, and not finishing at the hoop. With Emiid’s time being limited to work him back into tip-top shape, Head Coach Brett Brown seemed to leave a few players in too long and utilizing questionable substitutions.
Dario rimmed a series of three shots off the front of the rim with tired legs, and while foul trouble hindered accessibility of lineups all night, the combination of players like Dario Saric and Ben Simmons or JJ Redick, Robert Covington, and Jerryd Bayless did not space the floor evenly. A few times they all tried to flock toward the open spot on the floor. Justin Anderson saw his first action of the game in the 3rd quarter, and once again, Jahlil Okafor did not see playing time even when Amir Johnson and Embiid were both out of the game. The Celtics did a great job of forcing the Sixers to set up in the half court where Okafor is best as he does not fit the ‘grab and go’ play style Philly would like to run.
The young core of Embiid, Simmons, Saric, and Fultz shot a combined 14/46 (30.4%) from the floor tonight for 37 of the 92 scored in the 102-92 loss. On Wednesday, that same group of players scored 49 of the 115 shooting 20/44 (45.5%) from the floor in the season opener.
The Sixers are back at it in Toronto tomorrow at 7:30 in a game where Joel Embiid is not expected play thus shaking up the lineups even more. Luckily the season is long, allowing chemistry to build in the first month of the season.
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