Gotta admit, the last 12 hours have been really weird.

I fell asleep at midnight while the Flyers were still playing, then woke up at 7:25 a.m. and turned on the Sixers preseason game. I guess that’s what happens when the ice hockey team is playing out west and the basketball team is playing in the far east.

Anyway, good exercise for the Sixers in Shanghai. They started slow and looked a little sleepy, a little jet laggy, but turned it on in the second half and showed us some positive things as we head into Monday’s final preseason game, another matchup with the Dallas Mavericks in China.

Here’s what I wrote down while watching the game and editing Anthony’s Flyers story:

  • Posting Ben Simmons early and often is going to be the modus operandi this season. It’s very easy to get him mismatches in the low and high post, and that’s where the space is going to be when Markelle Fultz is handling the ball anyway. Ben will draw fouls from those post positions because of his size in general, but also because the NBA has made it a point of emphasis this season to pay more attention to defenders who restrict the off-ball movement of offensive players all over the court.
  • I don’t need to see Joel Embiid’s pump fake at the three point line moving forward. He looked better in the third quarter but sometimes I feel like he just overthinks the game, does too much dribbling, and spends too much time on the perimeter. He finished with 21 and 8 while shooting 50% overall, 0-2 from three, and 5-5 from the free throw line while going -7 on the afternoon. Joel turned it over five times.
  • Markelle Fultz: 2 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists on 1-6 shooting. Looked decent defensively but had a poor offensive game. Took one three point shot and missed it.
  • We did see Mike Muscala play 5 alongside Dario Saric at the 4. I can’t recall if they showed this look during the Melbourne game (I wasn’t there, had a wedding), but he played a lot of five last season and should at least be capable of helping the Sixers replicate that Ilyasova/Saric small ball shooting look.
  • Amir Johnson didn’t get into the game until the second half. He was not great against Orlando and I’m not sure Jonah Bolden is ready for NBA minutes, though I did think he was a bit better in this game. If Embiid goes down, cover your eyes. I think backup big is going to be an issue this season and I haven’t been overly impressed with any of Johnson, Muscala, or Bolden.
  • Landry Shamet looked excellent again. 16 points on 5-7 shooting, 3-5 from three point range and zero turnovers. He really looks like he belongs. He’s assertive and seeks his shot, he doesn’t just pass up the rock and go hide in the corner like other rookies.
  • JJ Redick was getting boos from the crowd because of the racial slur slip-up situation dating back to last season. Not sure how much you remember about that, but there was a video that was released in China where Redick appeared to say the word ‘ch***.’ I have no idea why that wasn’t edited out, but Redick explained that it was a mistake and apologized. Anyway, he looked fantastic off the bench. 25 points on 100% shooting, didn’t miss at all. He had a fantastic four point play with a corner three:

By the way, Redick was dealing with “gastroenteritis” during the game. I wish I could play that well while dealing with stomach issues and playing in front of a crowd that had it out for me.

  • Think about bringing Redick, Shamet, and Furkan Korkmaz off the bench. That’s a LOT of shooting, much better than bringing in Justin Anderson, TLC, and Jerryd Bayless, which was what happened last fall. I hope people remember how dire the bench situation was before Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova came to town. It looks like the Sixers will start the season with much needed depth.
  • I didn’t even mention Zhaire Smith and Wilson Chandler, who are injured. Imagine adding those guys into the second unit as two-way bite and a bit of defensive steel. You really do have a ton of bench options moving forward. You are theoretically looking at a second unit of Wilson Chandler, Furkan Korkmaz, JJ Redick, and Shamet as a ball-handler in a combo guard role. Or you throw Smith/Chandler at small forward and put Muscala at the four with Saric at the five. Talk about shooting. It’s fun to think about.
  • Robert Covington didn’t have a great game. Five fouls, three turnovers, 2-4 shooting.
  • I’d like to see Korkmaz play some 2nd quarter minutes in the next game.
  • T.J. McConnell looked good in the fourth. He’s playing limited minutes because Brett Brown is comfortable with him and knows what he has in his backup point guard.

Notes from Brown’s presser, which I’m writing down while watching LIVE on NBA TV.

As Bill O’Reilly once said, WE’LL DO IT LIVE: 

  • Brown said his team fouled too much on defense
  • elite JJ Redick performance, him coming off the bench as ‘lightning in a bottle’ is another additional benefit
  • second quarter turnaround was because of better defense, more active with their hands, deflections and getting their hands on the ball

Also, I have not seen the movie Shanghai Calling, I was just looking for something creative to use for the title of the article. Apparently it didn’t get rave reviews.

I’ll leave you with this snippet from the transcription of Joel Embiid’s media availability from Thursday evening:

Do you think you are more handsome than James Bond?

“Oh yeah, for sure.”