Gotta admit, I could get used to these morning games.

However –

That was the last one of the season. Your team, your town, your 76ers are headed home from China and will turn their attention to the Boston Celtics for the 2018-2019 season opener, now just one week away.

Observations from Tuesday’s meaningless loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Shenzhen:

  • 9 for 34 from three is not great (26.5%)
  • Dario Saric got a rest, which Keith Pompey reports is day-to-day lower back soreness, allowing Mike Muscala to start. He didn’t have an amazing shooting night, just 1-5 overall with five rebounds and and a pair of turnovers, but I specifically liked this trailing big three pointer:

That’s an effective transition look there because Joel Embiid has a mismatch in the post, which occupies bodies and draws attention more than Muscala or Saric going down there or standing in the corner. Good job by Simmons to dump that ball and wall off Salah Mejri, who is in no man’s land trying to get back on Embiid. Oftentimes you’ll see Embiid take that trailing three, since he’s under the defensive rim and a little slower to get down the floor.

  • Markelle Fultz had two early fouls and eventually fouled out of the game in the fourth quarter. He shot 3 for 7 and committed four turnovers, one on a drive where he got pushed to a bad angle and threw a bounce pass off of Amir Johnson’s ankles. When he returned in the second half he hit a 10-footer off a loose pick and roll and then a short baseline pull-up jumper. That was his best spell in this game and he honestly did not have a great China trip.
  • JJ Redick was booed again. He shot 4 for 9 in this game and started the second half with the first team while Fultz took a seat on the bench. I still like Fultz in the starting lineup because Redick is such a shooting threat as a second unit player, but I don’t know if Markelle is ready just yet. Brett Brown has a very interesting choice to make here moving into the regular season.
  • Ben Simmons got a technical for what looked like taunting after mouthing off at J.J. Barea after a dunk. That was pretty funny. Ben had ten, nine, and six, a nice line marred only by seven turnovers. Simmons’ defense has also been pretty damn good through four preseason games, even though defense usually isn’t a thing we pay much attention to in the preseason.
  • Joel Embiid finished 0-6 from deep but scored 29 points and started rolling in the low post as the game went on. He can be as good as he wants to be this season. I don’t know what Eastern Conference big is going to slow him down on that end of the floor.
  • Robert Covington was much better in this game – 18 points on 7 of 16 shooting, though he only hit 2 of 9 three point attempts. Defensively, he got his hands in the passing lanes, stole a couple of balls, and had a great block that was called back I think due to an offensive foul. One thing that boggles me is that he still seems to have issues getting elevation and finishing plays at the rim:

However –

I want to share a really really nice defensive play by Cov, because if you say anything negative about him, the Process supporters come flying out of the woodwork to defend him. And if you say anything positive about him, the anti-Process types come flying out of the woodwork to rag him. It’s really impossible to say anything about Robert Covington without somebody on Twitter telling you you’re full of shit.

So here’s a clip of him causing a turnover with a deflection on a defensive switch, without even really turning his head:

Great stuff. That’s “feel” right there, and not many people have that trait.

  • T.J. McConnell has looked pretty good this preseason. Brett Brown finally gave him some early quarter minutes and he doesn’t look at all out of place. If Fultz and Simmons are playing with the first unit this season, McConnell should/could be in line to run point with the second unit, unless they go Landry Shamet/JJ Redick as a 1/2 combination. That depends on Shamet’s skill as a combo guard and whether he can be a good enough ball handler as an NBA rookie.
  • I haven’t been that impressed with Amir Johnson this preseason. I didn’t expect to be impressed, but still..
  • I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Furkan Korkmaz this year. Guy can “score the basketball.”
  • Need more Landry Shamet. I thought this was a pretty play design even though he missed the shot:

  • Luka Doncic kind of reminds me of Phil Keidel. I mean Phil Kessel. He doesn’t look incredibly athletic, but then makes a really nice play and you’re sort of sitting there scratching your head afterward wondering how it happened.
  • J.J. Barea took a one-footed running three pointer in this game. It didn’t go in.
  • Too many fouls overall. I understand the points of emphasis from an NBA standpoint, but there’s restriction of movement all over the court. Blowing the whistle on every play just junks up the product and slows the game down. It’s an outrage.
  • Tony Brothers needs to remain in China.
  • I appreciated the Super Mario coin sound that was played in the arena after every made foul shot.

That’s it!

Not sure when the Sixers get back, but they might practice Wednesday at the earliest. It’s a 16 hour trip to/from China so I imagine they will at least been given a rest day or two to shake off the jet lag.