Maybe you were asleep or working, but the Sixers played a preseason game in China Friday.
If you missed the Sixers’ 120-114 win over the Mavericks in Shanghai, we’ve got you covered with a few observations.
• It appeared the Sixers were feeling some jetlag from their long trip. The first quarter was filled with turnovers and poor transition defense as the Mavs were able to get out to a 35-26 lead to end the first.
The Sixers weren’t playing their customary pace and space style offensively. They looked stagnant, not moving without the ball and settling for jump shots. Dennis Smith Jr. took advantage of the Sixers’ failure to get back on D, scorching them for 15 points in the opening stanza.
• JJ Redick was the star of the show. The veteran guard was unconscious, going 10 for 10 (7 for 7 from three) for 28 points. Redick’s ridiculous performance somewhat overshadowed the play of first-round pick Landry Shamet. The rookie continues to show why the Sixers drafted him, going 6 of 11 (3 of 7 from three) for 18 points. Everyone knew Shamet could shoot, but his movement away from the ball and his solid defense are going to leave Brett Brown with some tough decisions regarding his rotation.
• A fun wrinkle was the lineup of Ben Simmons, Redick, Shamet, Dario Saric and Mike Muscala. This is such an ideal lineup for Simmons to play with, surrounding him with shooters and opening the floor up immensely. It’ll certainly be something to monitor going forward.
• Speaking of Simmons, he spent a lot of time in the post in the first half, something the Sixers didn’t do a ton of last season. He operated from there seven times in the first half. It led to the following: bucket, foul, an open Shamet three (one of his rare misses), foul, bucket, foul and foul. It wasn’t utilized as much in the second half, as Embiid spent more time down low.
• In the second half, the two-man game between Simmons (nine points, nine boards, 10 assists) and Embiid (22 points, 10 rebounds) operated as well as we’ve seen it. Embiid was 4 of 6 from the field in the second half after going 4 of 10 in the first. The more the team’s franchise cornerstones learn to play together, the scarier the Sixers become.
• Markelle Fultz didn’t have his best shooting game (2 of 7) but he still looks confident with his shot. He took a three and a midrange jumper — he missed both, but the form looked good and there wasn’t any hesitation. He also didn't slack defensively, recording three steals and a block.
Saric struggled from the field as well, going just 3 of 11 from the field. His shot looked a little flat, which could be the result of fatigue.
• For general NBA fans, the Mavericks look like they have two intriguing pieces in 2017 first-round pick Smith Jr. and 2018 first-round pick Luka Doncic. Smith Jr. is a nightmare in transition and puts a lot of pressure on defenses with his ability off the bounce. Doncic showed off his craftiness, court vision and nice touch. Both players are outstanding in the pick-and-roll. It’ll be interesting to see how they’ll play together.
And for you ‘Nova fans, Jalen Brunson was up to his old tricks, scoring nine points on 4 of 5.