I love the Boston accent. I can’t enough of it. Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn are the best thing to come out of Beantown since Ray Donovan and his crazy father, Jon Voight.
This was not an instant classic for obvious reasons. The short-handed Sixers looked outmatched against the short-handed Celtics, who seemingly scored at will for much of the night.
So while it’s fruitless to dive too deep into a game that didn’t feature Joel Embiid, JJ Redick or Robert Covington, we did get to see more from rookie pair Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons.
He checked into the game around 6:30 of the first quarter and didn’t waste any time driving to the rim for a layup and foul.
I thought Fultz looked much more comfortable with the ball in his hands rather than trying to find his game with Simmons running the point. Both players are excellent at getting to the basket, though Fultz looks to be the slightly smoother finisher. Simmons seems like a better passer, with elite vision to kick the ball back outside.
The issue right now is that I think Simmons and Fultz have slightly overlapping strengths and weaknesses. Both are better with ball-in-hand while driving. Neither one is looking to shoot a jumper, nor are they wow-ing us with off-the-ball movement right now. This is something the Sixers would like to see from Fultz, however, because part of the reason his draft stock was so high was because he was projected to be able to score playing off the ball.
It wasn’t until the third quarter that Fultz even attempted a shot outside the key, missing on a 15-foot jumper. In the fourth, he hit a really smooth baseline jumper from about 11 feet.
He also showed some really nice moments with that spin move, which he probably overused at times:
Marcus Smart giving Markelle Fultz a nice little "welcome to the league" moment. pic.twitter.com/xaCrTQ57fq
— Taylor C. Snow (@taylorcsnow) October 10, 2017
Simmons will get to the rim frequently this season. An early storyline might be his finishing in the paint.
He finished 6-12 on the night and added six rebounds.
Take a look at his shooting chart from Monday night, courtesy of ESPN.com:
You see all six of his made shots coming from that clump of black right underneath the rim. He missed both of his shot attempts from outside the paint.
For comparison, this is what Fultz’s chart looked like:
Fultz was 3-5 in the paint and 1-2 outside of it. Simmons was 6-10 inside and 0-2 outside. Neither player attempted a three-pointer.
There’s overlap there, for sure.
If one of Simmons or Fultz develops a consistent outside shot, that gives you another scoring threat alongside Redick and Covington. Right now, three games into the preseason, it feels like there’s a bit of redundancy. The thing is, Fultz was over a 40% three-point shooter in college, and his decision to tweak his shot over the summer seems to have hurt his confidence to shoot, especially when you consider what we saw in the Summer League, where he looked just fine shooting from outside the paint and in one game hit four three-pointers.
Free throw shooting
It wasn’t great.
Fultz went 2-5 and Simmons was 3-10. That’s 40% and 30% for the pair.
The entire team shot 51.7% from the stripe.
This video got a lot of play last night, with Fultz sort of shot-putting a brick from an awkward starting point:
Biggest problem with Fultz free throw is that he starts it at shoulder height. Needs to start at waist level for rhythm and POWER pic.twitter.com/CExnUgao4r
— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) October 9, 2017
I’m not sure what that’s all about. Is the shoulder bothering him? His release point is incredibly high and the ball isn’t even resting in his palm, he’s pushing it with his finger tips.
Simmons’ form looks smoother from the waist up, but he seems to keep his feet angled away from the basket.
This is going to be a pretty big topic moving forward, considering that both of these guys are going to draw fouls while attacking the rim. Fultz and Simmons shot more free throws last night (15) than the rest of their teammates combined (14).
Assuming that the dribble-drive and kick out is going to be there all season long, Redick and Covington are going to have to be a HUGE part of the Sixers offense.
The short-handed squad shot 44% from the field last night, but just 28% from three. Furkan Kormaz hit 3-4 from behind the arc and made 5-7 field goals overall.
Speaking of Korkmaz, I like the kid. I keep coming back to the word “assertive” to describe his preseason. He’s really looking for opportunities to shoot, but he’s not chucking it up aimlessly either. There’s a tempered aggression, if that makes sense.
He’s been no worse than Justin Anderson and Nik Stauskas, who combined to go 2-16 last night and 0-6 from three-point range.
Food for thought:
Oh is Furkan Korkmaz not a secret anymore? Are we allowed to talk about how he's definitely their best non-Redick wing?
— TS% Eliot (Spooky) (@Cosmis) October 1, 2017
Jahlil Okafor got the start with Richaun Holmes missing via injury.
He didn’t exactly bust his butt in this game, but who did? He only just returned from the knee injury, after all, so I don’t expect T.J. McConnell levels of exertion.
To me, the problem with Okafor isn’t his physical movement or fluidity. I do think vegan Jah is a little smoother than omnivore Jah.
The issue is that diet and health have no bearing on mental capacity or court awareness, which he continues to show very little of. Often, he’s slow to recognize an opponent’s offensive movement, or see a second defender coming when he receives the ball down low (and palms it).
Okafor’s offensive game might be anachronistic, but it’s effective. He’s still a defensive liability, however, and until he improves that part of his game, it’s just hard to justify giving him extended minutes.
I’ll hold off on a more definitive take until the end of the preseason.
Abdel Nader with the strong finish through contact! 💪 pic.twitter.com/VdQTRZgrRE
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 10, 2017
Nice to Dario Saric back on the court, even if he looked a bit rusty.
He had a great offensive rebound and put-back around 9:52 in the second quarter. That was one of just five offensive boards for the Sixers. Saric had five points and seven rebounds going into halftime.
He finished with nine and seven on the night, but only hit one of five three-point attempts. It was created from a Simmons drive:
A beautiful thing.
Simmons grabs the board, runs the floor, penetrates and kicks to Dario for an easy triple. pic.twitter.com/Bki4lNrVSd
— NBC Sports Philly (@NBCSPhilly) October 10, 2017
He’ll be another guy who can step up and take advantage of that gravity shift when Simmons and Fultz are driving to the rim.
That’s about it all I’ve got for this game, which will will now be wiped off the DVR forever.