Welcome back to another season of Sixers basketball coverage on SportsTalkPhilly.com. Our previews this year will be titled Sixers Fastbreak and the content will be true to the name. We plan to give you nothing but the top story-lines heading into the game, the lineups, injuries and how you can tune in. As always, please feel free to interact with us on Twitter, @Sixerdelphia.
The Philadelphia 76ers open up their preseason slate this evening against Melbourne United. Point guard Ben Simmons and head coach Brett Brown have connections to Melbourne, with Brown having coached there from 1993-1998 and Simmons growing up there.
Here's a quick look at some of the things to watch for in tonight's opener:
1. Markelle Fultz's jumper and confidence: The 2017 top pick has a rebuilt jumper and has said he won't be afraid to take shots, whether it be from mid-range or beyond the arc. Look for Fultz to be out there to prove doubters wrong right out of the gates tonight. Besides his jumper, Fultz has always shown a great ability to get to the rim, but avoiding defenders and not getting blocked in the paint will be something to watch for as the preseason progresses.
2. Ben Simmons free throws and jumpers: In addition to Fultz's rebuilt jump-shot, Ben Simmons worked with his brother this offseason on his shot. Ben said not to expect him to shoot three's, but he knows he needs to develop a jumper to keep defenders guessing and keep adding to his arsenal. In addition, Simmons re-worked his free throw form over the summer, so look for that as well.
3. Joel Embiid and bully ball: One of Joel Embiid's biggest offseason focuses with Drew Hanlen was to work on being a more effective post player. Embiid's turnovers when double-teamed in the post have caused issues for him and the Sixers have put him in those situations during training camp. His teammates said they've noticed that his ball-handling has most certainly improved. Brett Brown wants Embiid to work on dribbling, a gather step and then getting a bucket or a foul. Look for Jojo to shoot less perimeter shots and work more on his paint game.
4. Landry Shamet's role: It's game one of the preseason, so we won't figure out roles right off the bat, but it will be interesting to see how Brett Brown uses Shamet. He comes from a defense driven program at Wichita State and he was a great shooter in college. During training camp, he was working side-by-side with JJ Redick, which only benefited the rookie, so look for Shamet to be inserted in the two or three spot throughout the game tonight.
5. Wilson Chandler addition: A lot of fans gave the Sixers flack for only really emerging from the offseason with Wilson Chandler as an addition, but his skillset should really fit how this team runs and its schemes. Chandler will be the guy behind Robert Covington, and the thing to watch for with him is defensive physicality and the ability to spot-up from anywhere on the court to shoot.
6. Robert Covington's ball-handling and finishing: Covington, easily one of the most debated players in Philadelphia, spoke about the work he put in this summer on his ball-handling and finishing. Although he's a streaky shooter, Covington's defense is top notch, so if he adds the ability to finish at the rim with improved ball-handling, it'll make the Sixers starting lineup all the more dangerous.
Projected Starting Lineups:
|Matchup Preview | September 28, 2018|
|Melbourne United||Philadelphia 76ers|
Game & broadcast information:
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia+
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
Stream: NBC Sports App