The Sixers got off to a good start on Tuesday night, checking all the boxes in their preseason opener.

Nobody got hurt, the starters logged a decent amount of minutes together, and they won the game with a nice and balanced effort from the entire squad.

Going into Friday’s second and final tune up, head coach Doc Rivers said he’s looking for this from his team:

“Really the same stuff, you’re just hopefully doing it better. I thought our pace was good the other night, but I thought there were times that we lost our pace, and that hurt us. You know, just playing through mistakes. One game, you can see a couple mistakes don’t go your way and everybody’s hanging their heads and we’ve got to just keep playing. So those are little things, transition defense has to be better. Pick and roll defense has to be better. We have a lot of work to do is what I see, and I want to see us improve in this next game.”

Rivers has spoken in the past about using a 10-man rotation for this shortened and funky schedule. He has a “sense” of what that’s going to look like, and so do we.

It’ll be Shake Milton in a 6th man role, which fit him really well on Tuesday night. Dwight Howard will back up Joel Embiid while we expect Mike Scott to continue off the bench with Furkan Korkmaz based on what we saw in the Celtics win.

The case of the 10th man is interesting, and we’d be conditioned to think it’s Matisse Thybulle, but Tyrese Maxey looked really good in his debut and can very easily play his way into the rotation.

Depending on how you feel about Milton in an off-ball role, you can roll out a second unit like this:

  1. Tyrese Maxey
  2. Shake Milton
  3. Furkan Korkmaz
  4. Mike Scott
  5. Dwight Howard

I’m not sure that’s the most stout defensive grouping, but you might swap out Korkmaz for Thybulle to give you some more bite on the perimeter.

In years past, you saw Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid play staggered minutes in which they were not on the floor together, and Rivers was asked Thursday if that would continue or be different this season:

“Well it’s gonna happen, you know? There’s gonna be times where one guy’s in foul trouble and the other guy needs to come out, so I don’t need this team to be dependent on just if those two guys are on the floor. We have to be able to play when both are off the floor. That’s going to happen; that’s real. And so we have to work on it every day, you know, and we do it in practice, quite a bit, and we’ll do it in the game early on, for sure.”

Another factor to consider with the crunched calendar, coupled with the introduction of a new coach, is that the Sixers really have not been able to install set plays the way you typically would with a full offseason.

As such, they played a very loose and “vanilla” type of game on Tuesday and Rivers explained that he felt like his team did well playing organic basketball but ran into some hiccups with called plays:

“Yeah that was funny, I think we executed what we call ‘random,’ it’s kind of an ‘organized unorganized,’ and that’s after (missed shots). I thought we did great there because our spacing was good and everybody was attacking and aggressive. I thought when we ran our set stuff is where we struggled, and that’s a clear sign of a team that hasn’t run that a lot, and they don’t know all the nuances of each set. We drilled that a ton today we’ll drill that again tomorrow during the game.”

Rivers also explained the reason why Joel Embiid played extended first quarter minutes Tuesday night, when in the past he’d be pulled relatively early in the first and third:

“That was more reflective that it was our first exhibition game, and I wanted to try to blow everybody’s lungs out. Jo handled it very well. But I know that’s a lot of minutes in a row for him, especially the pace that we’re playing at. The good news is he’s in such better shape this year and he can handle that, and there’ll be times where maybe he will.”

Sixers at Pacers Friday night, the second and final preseason game.