The Philadelphia 76ers are planning on approaching Friday night's preseason finale against the Washington Wizards as a tuneup for the regular season opener against the rival Boston Celtics.
Treating the preseason game against Washington as a tuneup is important for the 76ers. The starting lineup has only played together twice, against the Guangzhou Loong-Lions and the Orlando Magic. With the additions of Al Horford and Josh Richardson to the starting lineup and a tough early-season schedule featuring matchups with the Celtics, Portland Trailblazers, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors, the 76ers need to gain chemistry by playing on the floor together more than they have this preseason.
"If health permits, I'd play it like I'd play Boston," head coach Brett Brown said Wednesday. "I think incrementally, we had a plan, I think we've delivered on the plan, executed a plan...I would like to play like I'm playing the Boston Celtics, and then take a deep breath with a day off and get through the game healthy, and come back ready to dig in."
The Sixers might not be able to fulfill their plans if both Ben Simmons (back tightness) and James Ennis III (right calf strain) do not return from the respective injuries that kept them out of Tuesday's preseason win over the Detroit Pistons. It seems likely both players will be on the court against Washington, as reports show both players were back on the floor at practice on Wednesday.
Ben Simmons and James Ennis both returned to practice today, per Sixers.— Rich Hofmann (@rich_hofmann) October 16, 2019
Brett Brown says that they’re going to treat Friday as a dress rehearsal for the opener in terms of minutes.
Ben Simmons gives candid answer regarding questions surrounding his jump shot
Simmons has notoriously lacked patience whenever the media asks him questions about his jump shot. However, this season has been different. During the team's Media Day, Simmons offered up this tidbit regarding his mindset about taking jump shots during games: "If it's open, I'll take it."
Now, just one week away from the start of the regular season, he gave reporters the most candid, in-depth answer he has ever given when asked about his jumper.
It seems as if he is maturing both on and off the court and has reached the point where he is finally willing to either shoot jumpers in games or, at the very least, talk to reporters about it when asked.
76ers pick up Zhaire Smith's third-year option
Despite the incredible performance throughout training camp and the preseason from rookie Matisse Thybulle, the 76ers have not given up hope on the development of Zhaire Smith. The 76ers earlier this afternoon made official the reports claiming they picked up the 2020-21 third-year option on Smith's rookie contract.
Smith, partially due to Thybulle's performance over the past couple weeks, has not received as much playing time throughout this preseason as expected. After playing well in the Summer League (averaged 12.4 points and 1.4 steals per game), he has only gotten on the floor for 9.8 minutes per game this preseason.
It is likely Smith starts this season down in Delaware playing for the Sixers' G-League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats. But the team picking up the option-year on his contract signifies the organization's high hopes for his development. It would be shocking to not see him back up in Philadelphia at some point later this season.