76ers

Sixers detect a glaring area in need of improvement in preseason opener

The preseason is a time for teams to see where they need to improve. The Sixers quickly learned their defense needs work.

They were outscored by 20 points in the second half of their 110-89 loss to the Grizzlies on Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations).

“It was hard guarding them 1-on-1,” Brett Brown. “All over the place, the defense was poor. We made a run in the second period, but in general, I didn’t think the defense was that good.”

The Sixers trailed the Grizzlies by six after the first quarter and cut the deficit to one at halftime. They were held to just 23.5 percent from the field in the third when the Grizzlies extended the lead to 14. The Grizzlies outshot the Sixers 46.7 to 34.8 percent from the field overall.

"We could have made them feel us a little bit more," JJ Redick said. "They moved the ball really easily. We certainly felt them at times when we were on offense with our turnovers (nine) and taking tough shots."

The Grizzlies dominated the glass, 57 to 40. The Sixers grabbed three offensive rebounds compared to the Grizzlies' 12. 

The Sixers were shorthanded without key players, but the Grizzlies were, too. Joel Embiid (left knee recovery), Amir Johnson (right ankle sprain), Dario Saric (rest) and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (right knee patellar tendinitis) were out for the Sixers. All-Stars Mike Conley (rest) and Marc Gasol (left ankle), as well as Tyreke Evans (migraine) and Ben McLemore (right foot) missed the game.

Center Brandan Wright led all players with 16 points and neared a double-double with eight rebounds. 

The Sixers have four preseason games remaining to hone their defense before the regular-season opener on Oct. 18. They will face the Celtics on Friday. 

"It's going to take time," Ben Simmons said.