It’s nearing 5 am as I write this, and I can safely say this is the earliest I’ve ever been up to write a game preview; the computer screen is looking fuzzy and my brain is about operating at about 50%. The Sixers are taking on the Dallas Mavericks in Shanghai, where the time is a full 12 hours ahead of Philadelphia. By the time the game tips off, it will be 7:30 am local time. So throw on a pot of coffee, today we’re having Sixers basketball for breakfast.
In the Dallas Mavericks first preseason game, they didn’t play in China but they did play a team from China, defeating the Beijing Ducks 116-63. Luka Doncic made his first appearance as an NBA player in that game and it was quite the showing, as the Slovenian rookie totaled 16 points on 5 of 7 shooting (3 of 6 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 blocks. Doncic wasn’t the only rookie to register in the box score, as former Villanova guard Jalen Brunson tallied 8 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal in 18 minutes of play. Second-year man and future dunk contest champion Dennis Smith Jr. contributed a solid line in 26 minutes of play, with 16 points and 6 assists. Dirk Nowitzki didn’t play at all in the game, and I’m not sure he will against the Sixers either.
Joel Embiid and the Sixers might be a little less rusty, as they’ve played one more preseason game than the Mavericks (and one more game than the Mavericks against an NBA team). So far in the preseason, Embiid has looked unguardable. He looks comfortable with his body and he’s clearly improved upon his footwork. Markelle Fultz has also created quite the buzz, though his bar is a bit lower than Joel’s. Fultz drilled the 3PT heard round the world in Monday’s game against the Orlando Magic, making his first shot from distance (excluding Summer League) since becoming a Sixer. Ben Simmons played only 22 minutes in the Sixers 120-114 win over the Magic, racking up a very Simmons-esque line of 9 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists.
As the Sixers prepare to take on the Mavs in the two teams’ first of two preseason meetings in China — Brett Brown’s squad will again take on the Mavs October 8th in Shenzhen — here’s what I’ll be watching for:
- FULTZ’ SECOND THREE-POINTER
- Joel Embiid vs. DeAndre Jordan: Joel has been manhandling opposing bigs in the paint. The thing is though, Mo Bamba has the build of a pencil. Embiid has yet to go against a center that matches his physical profile. At 265 lbs, DeAndre Jordan has about 40 lbs on Bamba’s draft measurement of 225 lbs. We’ll get to see how Joel handles a bigger boy.
- Luka Doncic: Man, the kid looks good. He’s exciting to watch, and it’s a pleasure that we’ll get to watch him twice in 4 days.
- Jonah Bolden: I haven’t been impressed in the least with Bolden thus far. He doesn’t look ready for the NBA, despite playing professionally overseas. He hasn’t gotten a ton of tic, and I’m not sure if that’ll change. But I’d like to see him take advantage of his time (12 minutes or so) on the court, he may not have much left… (joking, sort of.)
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Dallas Mavericks
What: NBA Preseason
When: 7:30 am EST
Where: Shanghai for the NBA China Games
Watch: NBA TV
Follow along on Twitter: @Liberty_Ballers
*A game thread will be posted about 15 minutes before tip.