Jimmy Butler sure made his presence felt in his home debut Friday night.
Now the Sixers are faced with a back-to-back situation as they head to Charlotte to take on the Hornets Saturday.
Let’s take a closer look at the matchup.
• How could we start this about anything other than Butler? He was fantastic in his first home game as a Sixer, giving the raucous crowd at Wells Fargo Center plenty to cheer about. It was a playoff-like atmosphere in last night’s win over the Jazz (see observations).
🗣️JIM-MY BUT-LER.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) November 17, 2018
They're already getting chants in at Wells Fargo Center...and Butler nails a triple. pic.twitter.com/jkVsRC3L5C
We’re still in the honeymoon phase but Butler is showing he fits on and off the court so far. He even loves the victory music (see story).
• Joel Embiid had a weird night last night. He got himself into foul trouble and missed virtually the entire third quarter but came up huge in the fourth. He scored 13 of his 23 points in the final period.
He also revealed that he played with his hand hurting early in the first quarter. The weird part is that Embiid revealed it’s the same issue he’s had dating back to December of last year during a road game in Phoenix. He was quick to say, “I’m playing” when asked about his status vs. the Hornets.
His right hand did appear swollen after the game, but he looked fine during his big fourth quarter. This will just be something to keep an eye on if Embiid starts favoring his shooting hand.
• Brett Brown said after the game last night that he felt Ben Simmons had the “biggest adjustment” to make with Butler in the fold (see story). Simmons has been fairly quiet in the two games since Butler got here. Though he appeared more aggressive last night, he’s averaging just 9.5 points and has taken just 14 shots in the last two contests combined.
Part of this is by design. Brown said that Simmons has to now evolve into a true point guard, where before Butler’s arrival he was counted on to provide scoring as well as facilitating. Ultimately this could be the best thing for Simmons, as there will be less pressure on him to shoot. At the same time, you don’t want him to lose his aggressiveness offensively.
• After watching Donovan Mitchell jack up a ton of shots Friday, the Sixers will be tasked with containing Kemba Walker. As we’ve seen in the first two matchups against the Hornets, Walker has no conscience. He’s really become one of the elite scorers in the league.
Walker struggled early in Charlotte’s OT loss at the Wells Fargo Center last week, but did have a monster fourth quarter. The Sixers also didn’t have Butler in that one, who held Mitchell to 13 of 35 and no assists last night.
While the Sixers’ have installed a more switch-heavy scheme this season, it was interesting after the game to hear Brown say Butler wanted to stay with Mitchell and that the coaching staff let him. I’d imagine it’ll be the same deal with Walker tonight. Butler’s elite on-the-ball defense has been evident already.
Here are the essentials for tonight’s game.
Jonah Bolden, F, 6-10, 220, No. 43
Jimmy Butler, F, 6-8, 236, No. 23
Wilson Chandler, F, 6-9/225, No. 22
Joel Embiid, C, 7-0/260, No. 21
Markelle Fultz, G, 6-4/200, No. 20
* Demetrius Jackson, G, 6-1/200, No. 11
Amir Johnson, F/C, 6-9/240, No. 5
Furkan Korkmaz, G/F, 6-7/185, No. 30
T.J. McConnell, G, 6-2/190, No. 12
* Shake Milton, G, 6-6/205, No. 18
Mike Muscala, F/C, 6-11/240, No. 31
JJ Redick, G 6-4/195, No. 17 13
Landry Shamet, G, 6-5/190, No. 23
Ben Simmons, G/F, 6-10/230, No. 25
Zhaire Smith, G, 6-4/200, No. 8
Justin Patton, C, 6-11/229, No. 0
* Two-way player
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