Winning a Game You Should Win – Observations from Sixers 114, Hornets 106

As currently constructed, the Sixers should beat the Charlotte Hornets 99 out of 100 times at home. One team has championship aspirations while the other hasn’t won a playoff series since 2002 and probably won’t do it this season.

It wasn’t an inspiring performance at the Wells Fargo Center, but the Sixers snapped their three-game losing streak against a bad team. I’ll give you the only true takeaway statistic from this game:

  • Tobias Harris: 29:21
  • Joel Embiid: 25:48
  • Al Horford: 26:46

Josh Richardson was the only starter to play more than 30 minutes last night, so they came home from a long road trip, adjusted to the time change, and went out and beat a mediocre Hornets team without having to log too many minutes. You’ll take that any day of the week, and despite more ugly turnovers and a pair of late-quarter Charlotte runs, the Sixers did what they needed to do.

Growing a Bomber

How about Furkan Korkmaz?

He’s the best early-season story right now, and he’s playing with a ton of confidence, which you just did not see in the first three games. He looked tentative, hesitant, inside his own head – whatever term you want to use to describe a guy who just didn’t seem to have 100% belief in himself. Then Brett Brown dials up a SLOB game-winner for him in Portland, and all of a sudden the guy looks like the “bomber” the head coach wanted to grow.

Furkan had 17 points off the bench Sunday, shooting 7-14 from the floor and 3-8 from three point range. He hit Raul Neto on a behind-the-back assist and he’s just doing more off-ball movement in general, which I presume helps him find a rhythm.

“He’s playing with confidence,” Brown said after the game. “We talked about trying to grow a three-point bomber and he makes that shot in Portland, which puts his confidence at an all-time high, as it should be. His defense is what I’m most happy with. He’s sitting in his stance and isn’t as isolation-pick-on-kind-of-guy. They will still try to test him and he holds his ground more now than he has in the past. He’s playing good basketball and we need him to.”

It’s true, he’s not being exploited in the same way he and JJ Redick had been in the past. He’s been capable defensively and should continue to improve there.

One of the things that I’ve always liked about Korkmaz is his quick release, which is a product of him keeping the ball high and shortening his shooting motion. He does not bring the ball down to his chest and it enables him to do things like this:

Those are decent close-outs by Charlotte. Furkan really does a nice job of keeping that ball high and firing quickly. Nice to see him take the next step this year and Sixers fans should be intrigued to see how much further he can improve.


20 turnovers, which again is ridiculous. We will sidebar this story later today, but for now, know that the Sixers are dead last in the NBA with 18.8 turnovers per game. They are worse in this category after making small improvements last season. They have taken a step back here.

Joel Embiid

19 points and 8 rebounds, plus three assists and a pair of steals and blocks.

Much better than the Denver game, for sure, but he still doesn’t look like himself out there. He strings together casual possessions with a lack of assertiveness and continues to have some adventures when it comes to navigating double teams.

It’s whatever at this point, since the only thing that’s really truly important is managing his minutes and getting him to the playoffs in good health. He does not appear to be in top condition and he looks very similar to the player we saw last year, but that’s just my observation through the early part of the year. 27.7 minutes per game over the course of six games is good in that department, I’d just like to see more when he’s out there.

The rotation

No Ben Simmons last night, so Raul Neto again started and Trey Burke came off the bench.

Neto has been good. He’s got some T.J. McConnell in him but he’s more decisive and picks his spots better, definitely less running around like a chicken with his head cut off. You see his defensive issues on the other end, particularly being a smaller guy who is easier to screen, but the offense does seem to run nicely when he’s in there.

And I think there’s a spot for Trey Burke this year. He does bring you something different as an attack-minded player who will make things happen in other ways (dribbling), and the Sixers don’t really have that isolation or 1v1 scorer elsewhere on the roster.

Brett Brown on those guys:

I feel like there are outliers in every game. It is possible to put Raul Neto and Trey Burke in the rotation with Ben Simmons. Those two guards have played well and it’s exciting. It’s one of those in-game adjustments that you could make, knowing that it is a unique lineup.

On whether the rotation is set…

I wouldn’t say anything is set. We’re finding our way and we have different options. I think that the phrase that I like to use, ‘horses for courses,’ is based on who you’re playing and who’s playing well. I don’t feel married to anything this early in the season. You just figure it out. I won’t put a death spell on any of the players either. I feel open to playing the people that I think it’s going to take to win that night.

One thing Brown did say last night is that he “doubts” that he’ll try any lineups of Simmons + Neto or Simmons + Burke. That’s the right idea, since historically Ben was not great with McConnell on the floor and it’s probably just best to rotate the three at point guard as necessary. If Brett wants, he can always go back to point-Josh Richardson for defensive purposes later in the year, but you signed two point guards in the offseason, so you might as well use them.

Other notes

  • Strong third quarter from Al Horford working against Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington. He was a big reason why the Sixers were able to turn around the halftime deficit.
  • Charlotte ran some zone that Philly was able to handle with decent outside shooting.
  • Matisse Thybulle will be back in the rotation at some point. He’s been a little overzealous defensively and needs to work on his offensive game. Brett Brown is just giving him the rookie treatment, and it’s better to get it out of the way sooner rather than later.
  • 58-42 advantage in points in the paint, which is what the Sixers were doing during the 5-0 start.
  • The Sixers should get to the line more than 16 times in a game. They can easily get thee 20+ times.
  • They crushed Charlotte on the boards, 49 to 31. Ten offensive rebounds for the Sixers helped erase the lost turnover possessions, which left each team with 84 field goal attempts on the evening.

Happy Monday.

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4 Responses

  1. I legit enjoyed that. Great link reference without the artificial pretense of being original copy.

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