The 5-1 Sixers will enter their game Monday night against the Hornets with the NBA’s best record.
Mike Scott (left knee contusion) and Furkan Korkmaz (left adductor strain) remain sidelined.
Here are the essentials for the second game of the Sixers’ mini-series vs. Charlotte:
When: 7 p.m. with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:15 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:
Time for adjustments
The stakes aren’t nearly as high as a playoff series, but each team will have a similar chance to digest the Game 1 film and change plans accordingly.
Perhaps the Hornets will decide to press the Sixers earlier in the game given the home team’s sloppy second half on Saturday.
“Our lead,” head coach Doc Rivers said with a laugh when asked to explain the Sixers’ 22 turnovers. “Listen, they tried to go zone in the first half and we scored a ton of points. One thing they did do that I think gave us problems in the second half was they pressed us a little bit, and we didn’t handle it as well as we should have.
"But a lot of our turnovers were where we had transition buckets and we’re going for lobs. That’s a team with a big lead; that’s a dangerous way to play. We’ll watch that on film and correct that.”
In half-court offense, the Sixers had few problems when they managed to get a shot off. Outside of Matisse Thybulle, who shot 1 for 4, every Sixer who played shot at least 50 percent from the floor.
The Sixers likely don’t need to alter anything dramatically after a comfortable win, but showing Terry Rozier different looks defensively such as the occasional pick-and-roll blitz could be an option. Rozier was by far Charlotte’s most productive player, making a lot of difficult shots on his way to a 35-point night.
Kicking into gear?
Any league-wide statistics have little significance this early, but we’ll note here that, per NBA.com, the Sixers lead the league in passes made per game, are 11th in pace and seventh in transition possessions. All of that seems encouraging in the context of Rivers beginning to implement his system.
Danny Green, a 33-year-old three-time champion who understands team-building better than most, wouldn’t go as far as saying the Sixers have started to develop an identity.
“I’d say we’re trying to,” Green said. “We’re starting to build, we’re starting to find our momentum, find our rhythm. We don’t have an exact identity yet, but we’re still feeling each other out. It is very early. But offensively, the best offense for us is transition, is pushing the pace, so we don’t have to play in a half-court set. Obviously, half court, find (Joel Embiid). Jo is a mismatch problem for anybody in this league — make teams double him … and work off of that, find the open man.
“Defensively, we want to be aggressive, be able to talk through our pick-and-roll (coverage), switches. … We also have to do a better job of rebounding. Finishing off the defense with a rebound will make us better. But tonight, we came out well, we started well. We’ve just got to be more mature and hopefully mature throughout the season. Try to do that for 48 minutes and not turn the ball over as much.”
Not carrying as large a load
While there’s nothing wrong with Embiid being the hub of the Sixers’ half-court offense, the team doesn’t want to rely on him excessively.
We’ll see if that trend persists throughout the year, but the fact that many Embiid post-ups haven’t ended with a drawn foul, field goal attempt or turnover (the three outcomes that increase usage rate) is presumably a contributing factor. Rivers and the Sixers have liked when he dishes the ball out of a double team and starts a chain of events that result in an open three-pointer.
Embiid has been very efficient with his reduced usage rate, too, scoring 131.6 points per 100 shot attempts, according to Cleaning in the Glass. His current best for a season is 117.9 points per 100 shot attempts.
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