The 4-1 Sixers’ first mini-series of the season starts Saturday night against the 2-3 Hornets.
Mike Scott is out with a left knee contusion he suffered in the fourth quarter of the team's game Thursday night, a Sixers spokesperson said. He'll be re-evaluated in the coming days.
Furkan Korkmaz remains sidelined by a left adductor strain. He said after the team's shootaround Saturday that he's receiving daily treatment and is "getting better and better every day" but was uncertain of a timeline outside of the original plan that he'd be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks.
Here are the essentials for the first of two consecutive Sixers vs. Hornets games in Philadelphia:
When: 7 p.m. with Sixers Pregame Live at 6 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the MyTeams app
And here are three storylines to watch:
‘There’s no doubt we can play better’
Leading by 35 points at halftime isn’t common in the NBA.
Still, head coach Doc Rivers told the Sixers they weren’t playing at their peak Thursday night against the Magic.
“There’s no doubt we can play better,” he said. “Defensively, I don’t know if we can play much better than we did in the first half. I thought we were swarming, we were physical, we took them out of their stuff. And I thought, more impressively, that they really got into the game plan. They guarded personnel very well tonight, knowing what each guy did, and that’s something we really have been working on — for them to study and know that.
“Offensively, obviously we had ... (75 first-half points) or whatever. There’s still another level. I told them at halftime. I said, ‘We’re good, but we’re still not where we want to be offensively, which is a good sign.’”
One clear example of the Sixers being capable of more on offense is Danny Green’s early shooting numbers. A career 40 percent three-point shooter entering this season, Green has averaged 4.4 points per game and made 4 of his first 19 threes (21.1 percent).
Topping the charts defensively
Through their first five games, the Sixers have been the league’s best defensive team.
According to Cleaning the Glass, which factors out garbage time, the team has an NBA-best 100.6 defensive rating. As a side note, there was probably much of the Sixers’ blowout over the Magic that felt like garbage time and didn’t technically meet the criteria — the game has to be in the fourth quarter, for one — but it’s still fair to say the Sixers have started very well on defense.
The Hornets’ defense has been much improved, too. They’re 10th in defensive rating after finishing last season 25th. Offensively, Terry Rozier and big free-agent signing Gordon Hayward are among Charlotte’s top threats. Devonte’ Graham may be due for a breakout game after a slow start, while No. 3 overall pick LaMelo Ball is likely to provide entertainment and audacity.
How will Sixers respond to small ball?
With Cody Zeller sidelined after fracturing his hand in the Hornets’ season opener, there’s only one traditional big man in Charlotte’s rotation. That’s Bismack Biyombo, who’s playing a career-high 28.6 minutes per game.
When Biyombo’s off the floor, the Hornets have been using a frontcourt of 6-foot-6 Miles Bridges and 6-foot-7 PJ Washington. It’ll be intriguing to see whether the Sixers stick with Dwight Howard as their exclusive backup center or explore other options against Charlotte’s small ball.
A Mike Scott-Ben Simmons frontcourt didn’t turn things around for the Sixers in their loss to the Cavs. Rivers said after the team’s preseason finale, a game in which the Sixers played poorly with Simmons at center, that they hadn’t practiced with that lineup at all during training camp.