Following a nearly four-month hiatus, the Philadelphia 76ers retook the court Tuesday night, and after a 108-99 preseason win over the Boston Celtics, the dark cloud of the 2019-20 season already appears to have lifted. Let’s break down some quick observations from among Philadelphia’s cast of characters, both new and old.
- Joel Embiid looked spry
The big man scored 18 points in 17 minutes, and did it mainly through the flow of the offense, as Doc Rivers remarked upon after the game.
Rivers was thrilled with Embiid tonight. "We ran our stuff, but we didn't run his stuff, and he still had 18." Says it's a great example of how he can get his without a lot of designed looks for him.— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) December 16, 2020
One of the points of emphasis for Joel was doing a better job getting out in transition, and we were treated to what that would look like in all its glory:
Doc Rivers and the Sixers have talked a lot about playing faster this year, and have praised Joel Embiid's effort in transition. Good to see that play out here: pic.twitter.com/txlkfTyAYv— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) December 16, 2020
Give me more of Embiid in deer mode, please.
2. Shake Milton may have leveled up
One of the minor quibbles regarding the Sixers’ roster construction this offseason was the absence of a backup point guard. (Shake Milton enters the chat.) The Sixers didn’t worry about a backup point guard because they have Shake Milton.
Doc and everyone else have talked up Shake’s game in training camp, and we saw why against Boston. Milton dropped 15 of his 19 points in the third quarter, getting to his spots on the court via his change-of-pace game, and draining some beautiful jumpers. The Sixers need a lead playmaker on the second unit and Shake has thrown his hat into the ring for the job in a big way.
Shake Milton is good man.— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) December 16, 2020
His confidence and poise keeps growing too. pic.twitter.com/p6obAZGZDX
3. Seth Curry will get soooo many open looks
Nearly everyone has made the connection between Curry’s arrival in Philadelphia and the previous two-man partnership between Embiid and ex-Sixer JJ Redick. And...with good reason! Curry had a fairly quiet game, but he can seemingly get this open shot out of a DHO whenever he wants. Expect plenty of open looks in Seth’s future.
Embiid-Curry DHO, Embiid sets a good screen, easy pull-up jumper. Get used to this, Sixers fans pic.twitter.com/w8EPFOuYrL— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) December 16, 2020
4. Danny Green: much more than a contract-matching piece
Another round of applause for Daryl Morey, who not only got off the Al Horford contract, but received Danny Green in return. After 13 minutes of play in a Sixers uniform, it’s clear Green is going to play a big part in the Sixers rotation. He collected four steals, while playing excellent on-ball and team defense and contributing to a shooting line of 1-of-11 from Jaylen Brown. Toss in the occasional made open 3 and Danny Green is going to fit in just fine here in Philadelphia.
Danny Green first 3 in a Sixers uniform pic.twitter.com/jKJp7ELant— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) December 16, 2020
5. Dwight Howard’s above-the-rim game is refreshing
Not too long ago, I’m pretty sure the Sixers had a roster half full of centers, but their veteran backups have consistently been comprised of ground bound types like Amir Johnson and Kyle O’Quinn. It’s incredibly refreshing to have Howard, who not only flashed sound defensive rotations, but also can just go up and catch a lob. How much easier is it for Shake Milton here to only have to toss the ball up in front of the rim?
6. Tyrese Maxey can ball
Sixers fans were thrilled when Tyrese Maxey fell to Philadelphia with the 21st overall pick in the draft. After a positive COVID test, Maxey had just two practices with the team, and as a result, didn’t see his first professional action until the fourth quarter. But he certainly made his debut memorable, recording eight points and three assists via lightning-quick moves and a gorgeous floater.
Rookie Tyrese Maxey had three straight Buckets for the Sixers!— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) December 16, 2020
This is a type of offensive game the Sixers haven’t had in quite some time. And on top of everything, Maxey is already a terrific quote. I read “I dictate the pace” in the “I am the captain now” voice.