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Sixers close out undefeated preseason slate with defensive-minded win over Hornets

The real games begin Tuesday in Boston.

Charlotte Hornets v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Sixers finished off a 4-0 preseason when they took down the Charlotte Hornets, 99-94, Wednesday night. Joel Embiid returned to the lineup after not playing in Monday’s preseason action in Cleveland, giving Sixers fans once last look at the Opening Night starting five before the regular season begins Tuesday.

Here are some instant thoughts on the preseason finale.

First quarter

  • It was a much more involved Joel Embiid from the start of tonight’s game. He and Harden were spamming the pick-and-rolls out of the gate. Embiid got his early, drawing three quick fouls on Mason Plumee and putting up 11 points in eight minutes. Harden had his jumper falling early, as he continues to sprinkle in a midrange pull-up and more catch-and-shoot threes to his repertoire.
  • The focus on P.J. Tucker was rightfully about how he can help this team defensively and on the glass. But there have been quite a few glimpses of how he can help Philly offensively. This play, where he finds Tyrese Maxey in the corner off the short roll, is a good example.

Second Quarter

  • For the first time this preseason, Tyrese Maxey did not open the action lighting the world on fire. He started just 1-of-7 from the field, not really generating much offense in a lineup alongside four reserves. It feels like there is no true distributor on the team after Harden.
  • Montrezl Harrell backed up Embiid in the first half. He continues to bring regular-season energy in the preseason: 8 points on 3-of-3 shooting.
  • The Hornets were definitely playing with more assertiveness, and that was apparent at the rim. They blocked eight Sixer shots in the first half.
  • Embiid and Tucker seemed to collide with each other late in the second. Embiid appeared to have his head shaken up, but stayed in the game. Tucker limped off into the locker room, but came back into the game in the second half.

Third quarter

  • Doc Rivers made good on his pregame comments, playing the starters into the second half. Embiid’s midrange jumper was falling, but there was little else going on for Philly offensively. He would finish with a game-high 19 points. Harden shot the ball well from deep, finishing the night 4-of-8 beyond the arc.
  • After a strong showing in the preseason, Tobias Harris struggled on both ends of the floor Wednesday night. He let some threes fly off the catch that he probably wouldn’t have last year, but couldn’t connect. He really struggled in his matchup with Gordon Hayward for most of the night.
  • The Sixers were able to take advantage of Charlotte hitting a wall in the third, taking a two-point lead into the fourth quarter.
  • If Wednesday is any indication, we got a pretty good look at what the regular-season rotation will start out as.

Fourth quarter

  • The benches were emptied almost as soon as the fourth started. Furkan Korkmaz, Paul Reed and Matisse Thybulle were the first Sixers to get a crack. Korkmaz’s unnecessary behind-the-back passes are in midseason form, and Thybulle even converted a Euro-step floater!
  • Things continue to look grim for Isaiah Joe and Charles Bassey, the only Sixers who did not see the floor.
  • Next time the Sixers take the court, the games will count for real!

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