The Sixers rested a slew of players last night – Simmons, Ennis and Horford. And they inserted Furkan Korkmaz and Matisse Thybulle into the starting lineup. Both had nice games!
Furkan is one of those guys who you hope can break out. And last night he showed that maybe he can. The rookie Matisse is proving that one day, he will be one of the elite defenders in the NBA.
Here is the game summary with some video.
Expectations — that is the key word for this Sixer season. It has been a long time coming, but this year, fans expect the Sixers to go all the way. We want to see a winner.
It is just the pre-season, so one should not look too deeply into the games we are seeing. But so far, it is fair to say that the Sixers are on track. The things we need to see are readily apparent. Here are a few
- Ben Simmons is playing on a higher level than last year both on offense and defense. He hit a pull up jumper in the first half against the Hornets. He got steals. He blocked shots. The dude seems pumped and that takes the Sixers to new heights.
- Matisse Thybulle is playing WAY better than anyone expected. With Simmons and Richardson able to cover outside and Embiid and Horford inside, Matisse can quarterback the defense, and he is doing that. He is intercepting passes and stealing the ball at an amazing clip.
- Al Horford is a mature, solid big who can pop from the outside. With him and Kyle O!Quin, Joel is going to be able to rest a lot more this season.
- the rotation – unlike last year, the Sixers have a deep bench this year with Ennis, Thybulle, Scott, Q’Quinn and perhaps Smith. That means the Sixrs rotation is ten players deep. Wow!
Kyle Newbeck offers a few thoughts on the Hornets game – which I agree with. Onward!
Actually, this news is in line with my prediction for the Sixers this year. Ben Simmons will demonstrate a new outside game. He will take and hit 3’s when they are open. And he will go one on one as the situation dictates.
That will have an enormous impact on the team!!
And in the Sixers first pre-season game, Ben Simmons pulled up, took a three, and drilled it! Here is the link with a video.
I watched it four or five times.
As important, we already see why Al Horford is valuable. He is not only a defensive stalwart. Al is helping to coordinate the offense from the key. Very interesting!
This season feels different. In the past, the Sixers came to training camp with unanswered questions and fingers crossed. This season they come to training camp as a fully formed unit, with high expectations. They could go all the way.
That makes the early days very interesting indeed. You get to see if things are going to actually develop as they should.
Here are the takeaways from Sixer media day.
Here are my predictions
- Ben Simmons will take a step up on both ends of the court and will be the glue that holds the team together. He will shoot over 30% from 3. and over 70% from the charity stripe, He will be a legit candidate for defensive player of the year.
- Joel will figure out how to conserve himself for the playoffs. And he will cut down his turnovers. He will be a legit MVP candidate.
- Al Horford will play like, well … Al Horford, and that will give the Sixers an amazing edge especially on defense.
- Tobias will get back his Clippers form and become a reliable offensive threat again.
- Josh Richardson will make fans forget Jimmy Butler – especially on the defensive end of the court.
- Zzhaire and Matisse will see serious minutes off the bench and shine on the defensive end.
There is a lot more to look for, but those are — in my humble opinion — the keys to the Sixers going all the way.
The alarm bell went off when Brett Brown held his annual media luncheon. The news from the Q&A is not earth shattering. But it is interesting.
The main thing in my view — Brett thinks that Ben Simmons can shoot 3’s now and will put him in positions to make that happen during the season. No more dunkathons.
Why is that such a big deal? If Ben can start hitting 3’s, the Sixers spacing problems are over. Defenses will not be able to sag off any of the starting five, as they did in the past. That will open up the lane for Joel and Al.
The Sixers jettisoned a major star in Jimmy Butler and brought in Al Horford and Josh Richardson. In my book, this was a brilliant move. Here is why
- Butler is a head job. He does not play all out every night, but coasts a lot of the time. Meanwhile, he demands lots of attention and the ball in crunch time. When he does not hog the ball, he doesn’t know what to do. This hurts the team.
- Horford is not a head job, but a consummate team player. he can play without the ball, and can do the 4. He also adds an inside dimension, allowing Embiid to sit more so that Embiid can be ready for the playoffs (unlike last year). When Horford sits, Tobias Harris can move to the 4 where he likes to play
- With Horford, the Sixers are huge and field an imposing defensive squad. Without Horford, they had holes.
- Josh Richardson has one of the best contracts in the NBA and is improving year to year. He is not as good as Butler on offense, but on a day to day basis is better than Butler on defense
Barring injuries, I am picking the Sixes to go all the way this year, and having Al Horford is one of the major reasons why.
Here we go! The NBA season is nearly upon us, and the Sixers head to training camp.
Here is what to look for!
Add to that — will we see a new Ben Simmons, one that can shoot from the outside?