Sixers

3 observations after Sixers drop Vegas opener despite Joe's seven triples

Sixers

The Sixers' first game of the summer in Las Vegas went quite nicely for Isaiah Joe. The same can't be said for his teammates. 

Joe was the Sixers' only double-figure scorer Saturday with 24 points (7 for 9 from three-point range) in a 97-77 defeat to the Raptors. 

The Sixers will next face the Nets on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET. Here are observations on the team's loss to Toronto:

Springer breaks long-distance ice 

The Sixers put the ball in Jaden Springer’s hands on their first play, having the 19-year-old make an Iverson cut. He drove baseline and turned it over on a forced interior pass, leading to a Dalano Banton fast-break dunk. 

Springer had another turnover a few minutes later when he misread Joe’s slide up toward the right wing. Giveaways were a problem for the Sixers as a whole throughout the afternoon. The team committed eight first-quarter turnovers and dropped into a 20-7 hole late in the opening period.

In the 40-minute game, the Sixers had 25 turnovers.

Toronto’s superior physicality contributed to the Sixers’ especially sloppy start. The Raptors bothered the Sixers at times with ball pressure and also grabbed the game’s first four offensive rebounds. 

Counting the Sixers’ three games in Salt Lake City, Springer fell to 0 for 7 from three-point range this summer on a second-quarter miss. He got an open long-range look on the Sixers’ next possession and knocked it down from the right corner. One make doesn’t mean everything’s suddenly great with Springer’s jumper, but it’s notable that he shot again so soon after a miss that would likely have discouraged some players. 

 

Joe impressive on both ends 

After wrapping up the Sixers’ 2-1 stint in Utah on Thursday with a game-winning triple, Joe picked up where he left off, sinking a three on his first shot. 

His defense on bigger players was a significant positive early in the game, too. Joe held his ground well on a post-up by the 6-foot-7 Banton and even tied 7-foot rookie Christian Koloko up inside to force a jump ball. The Sixers have previously viewed Joe’s relative lack of muscle as limiting defensively. Easier said than done, but it would be meaningful if Joe demonstrates he’s gained strength and that the team generally shouldn’t be worried about players pushing him around. 

“He’s coming along," Sixers assistant coach Dan Burke said of Joe last season. “He’s got a lot to work on as far as he’s not as strong as a lot of these guys we end up putting him on. So, use your length (and) space. He wants to be good, so we’ll take our chances.

“He’s getting that three up, I know that. So when it’s going in, we’ve got to find the right matchup for him, especially when we’re short (on) bodies. Like most of us, we’ve got a lot of work to do on that end. But he’s eager and has got tremendous heart. Good team player and teammate. He’ll come along.”

Joe mostly made good decisions as a playmaker Saturday, notching four assists and one turnover. He drove and kicked the ball out to Julian Champagnie for a corner three that gave the Sixers a 42-38 lead late in the second quarter, then ran a fast break and set up a Trevelin Queen dunk.

Joe was easily the Sixers’ best player Saturday. Early in the third quarter, he caught fire in a justifiably confident spurt that included a four-point play. And he took advantage of the Raptors’ determination to stop his three-point spree with an intelligent back door cut that resulted in two free throws.

The end of the third was also excellent for Joe, who stepped in to take a charge and then drained a three on the ensuing possession. The one surprising blemish from his performance was a 1-for-4 effort at the foul line. 

Petrušev back in the fold 

Filip Petrušev wore a Sixers uniform Saturday for the first time since last summer. 

A draft-and-stash pick in 2021, the Serbian big man played last season for Turkey’s Anadolu Efes. He got eight minutes against Toronto and posted two points and four rebounds. Petrušev looked solid defensively in drop coverage and had one well-timed block, though he conceded an and-one layup to Banton when the second-year guard outfoxed him in midair. 

Paul Reed was among the Sixers in Las Vegas, but the 23-year-old is done playing for the summer. 

 

Fouls piled up fast for Charles Bassey. Players don’t foul out until they reach 10 in summer league, meaning Bassey was able to play in the fourth quarter and finish with nine points on 4-for-7 shooting, six rebounds and six fouls. Banton (21 points) and Armoni Brooks (25 points) helped the Raptors pull away in the fourth.