Between the Eagles’ egg last weekend, having to hear every NBA media member suddenly become an expert on China, and, of course, the usual built-up anticipation, I’m more than ready for this Philadelphia 76ers regular season to get started. First, though, we have one final preseason game, something Brett Brown said the team was treating like a regular season opener. Per Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice:
“If health permits, I’d play it like I’d play Boston,” Brett Brown said Wednesday. “I think incrementally, we had a plan, I think we’ve delivered on the plan, executed a plan...I would like to play like I’m playing the Boston Celtics, and then take a deep breath with a day off and get through the game healthy, and come back ready to dig in.”
Sounds good to me! Instead of watching Norvel Pelle DOMINATE and Furkan Korkmaz bomb away, we’ll get a glimpse at what Brown envisions for his rotation to begin the season. Is Kyle O’Quinn going to receive significant playing time behind the Joel Embiid/Al Horford center pairing? Has Matisse Thybulle cemented himself as the first wing off the bench? Has either Raul Neto or Trey Burke emerged as a clear-cut choice at backup point guard, or might we even see more Josh Richardson in the role?
The only possible monkey wrench in this plan is if Ben Simmons’ back tightness causes him to sit out tonight. Simmons has practiced, but did mention on Wednesday that he was not 100 percent certain if it would allow him to play in the preseason finale. Before you worry too much, he did reiterate it wasn’t bad enough to prevent him from suiting up in the regular season opener. Still, all expectations are the full squad will be out there tonight, and per Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times, Brown knows what he wants to do:
“I am not married to anything, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say at this stage, I didn’t have some pretty good ideas.”
On the opposing sidelines, the Washington Wizards made big news this week by signing Bradley Beal to a 2-year, $72 million extension, which includes a player option for 2022-23. The move ensures Beal will be making max money the next couple seasons, while also allowing him to pursue his next big contract when he hits his 10 years of service mark and jumps into the next max contract tier. It’s a great move for him financially, as long as he doesn’t mind having to while away more of his prime on a lottery team.
From the Wizards’ perspective, you could make the argument that they should have traded Beal already and gone full rebuild. However, if they wanted to keep Beal around, who is still just 26 years old, this was seemingly the only path for them to do so. The team will still be bad, and given the flattened lottery odds, it’s not quite as imperative to do a complete teardown in order to get a top prospect (just look at the Pelicans this past spring).
With a full roster set to take the floor for the Sixers and a happy superstar lined up against them, tonight should be a fun one to tune in to watch, even if it doesn’t count.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Washington Wizards (preseason)
When: 7:00 pm ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Update: Ben Simmons is out tonight.