Brett Brown’s feet aren’t totally underneath him yet. He’s done the trip to Australia plenty of times in his life, but spending a week in China before the NBA season begins would leave anybody ragged.

“I feel a little doughy,” the Sixers head coached said with a laugh on Thursday night. “I do. I feel a little bit like you’re trying to get the balance back, the rhythm and the routine. Today was a good sort of first start, first day for us to get ready for the Celtics. I’m excited more than anything but you do want to get back into more of a consistent rhythm.”

It’s Sixers vs. Celtics on Tuesday night, now less than five days away, if you can believe it. The squad practices again Friday night at 4:30 as they try to adjust to being back on Eastern Standard Time after playing a pair of preseason games in Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Here are some notes from Brown’s Thursday night availability:

  • the mindset is enthusiastic, excited to start playing for real, “as a coach you’re always trying to figure out the best way to play the team, to substitute the team, to absorb Wilson Chandler’s injury and see how that looks.
  • Chandler is still “a ways away” from getting back to full health: “My experience with hamstrings is one that reminds you, rarely is it less than a month… I don’t want anybody chasing. We don’t need to be rushing him back to do anything. There’s no timeline on it from that perspective.”
  • On Landry Shamet: “People that move off the ball, it’s a knack, it’s a skill that sometimes you don’t see like you’d want to see in the NBA, because sometimes it’s a static sport, a lot of middle pick and roll and standing around. We don’t play that way, and we saw that (movement) when we scouted him.. he really had the ability to move without the ball… I left China thrilled with what I saw from him, albeit in a small dose.”
  • Going to London last year wasn’t a “real trip” in terms of distance when compared to China. Plan on return was to leave the guys alone for a few days, then come back and practice at 4:30 p.m., let them find their routine and get back to their normal day to day life. Says squad will also practice 4:30 p.m. on Saturday as well. Team is leaning on sports science and conditioning staff to help with adjustment.
  • Goals for Ben Simmons are to have him be an all-league defensive player. Wants him individually to get his finishing and post game more efficient, shoot 6, 7, 8, or 9 free throws per game, improving on FT percentage as well.

JJ Redick also spoke to reporters Thursday:

  • the biggest emphasis from the staff was just to be “awake” in the evening, to combat jet lag and also begin to prepare the team for regular season games moving forward
  • Landry Shamet is a “gamer, has some mojo to him.” He goes “game speed” at all times, which is something very few players know how to do. Reps before and after practice are “as good as I’ve seen from any player.”
  • pointed out that Sixers had leads in the fourth quarter in three of the games they lost to Boston in the playoffs last year, biggest emphasis is learning how to finish
  • doesn’t matter if he’s starting or coming off the bench – “I don’t think the role changes whether I start or come off the bench.. opportunities to score, have plays called for you.” 

FYI Shamet usually spends his post-practice time working on shooting on the near court. He’s been one of the last guys out there at every session I’ve been to:

Restriction of movement and the ensuing foul calls

I think we all figured that Ben Simmons would improve his game by coming back this season with a jump shot, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Ironically, the improvement seems to be in moving him closer to the basket, using him off the ball and allowing him to post up in mismatches against smaller players.

One thing that’s really helping is the emphasis the NBA is now placing on the “restriction of movement” off the ball, which has resulted in more preseason whistles as officials try to crack down on clutching and grabbing in the paint and for players moving around the floor.

I asked Brett Brown about that new emphasis, and whether or not he felt like officials would continue to call a lot of fouls moving forward, or if they simply were overdoing it as they try to adjust to a new NBA directive:

Brown: “I was in Chicago at the annual coaching meeting, where they go through the points of emphasis. Last year it was as much of a rule change, I don’t know if you remember the year before, but in a middle pick and roll, Kevin Durant and James Harden were just baiting for fouls and throwing up a hook shot or whatever and they give them free throws, and that really changed the game. So that rule change, in their judgment, was that it wasn’t a shooting foul anymore, they just bring it to the side.”

Crossing Broad: It was that change to the continuation rule.

Brown: “Yeah, so that was massive. And it really wasn’t part of the sport. It wasn’t a legitimate shot attempt. And so they fixed it. That is a rule change. It was a little bit of a judgment change, but in many ways it was a rule change. This is a point of emphasis. They’re really trying to get you to play with your hands and your feet. Restricted movement out of the post, that’s hard to guard. Restricted movement on the perimeter, that’s hard to guard. This is all borne out of doing your work early and showing your hands. Can this continue? It will for a while. Is it sustainable and will it be called the same way in May? (Pause as Brown makes an ‘I don’t know gesture’) But what I do know is we have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and Dario Saric and JJ. That’s okay. We’ve got to do better at showing our hands and moving our feet. We can also exploit this new attention. (Friday) I have (former official) Joey Crawford coming in and going through with the coaching staff and players the points of emphasis. I have already shared it with the coaches and we tried to take my Chicago lessons and bring that into training camp.”

That’s pretty big, the way they can “exploit” this, as Brown explains.

I also asked Ben Simmons if he expected officials to continue keep calling games the way they’ve been:

“Hopefully not? I mean, either way we’re going to play towards how they call the games. If they call it a certain way obviously we’re going to post up a lot and get to the rim, cut, slash, do what we usually do. That works for us, favors us because of the way we play. I don’t know. However they call the game we’re going to have to adjust.

I think the first objective is to just bury guys as deep as I can (when posting). I know they’ve been calling it a certain way so far.”

If they keep calling it that way moving forward, forget about Ben’s jump shot and start focusing on his free throw percentage instead.