By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor
The Sixers kick off this season on Tuesday night in their preseason opener against the Boston Celtics. With the action tipping off shortly, here are three things to keep an eye on during the game.
1) Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in a new offensive system.
Despite how long they have been playing together, this year will be the first time we see the All-Star duo in a new system. How the two will look in Doc Rivers’ offensive system should be one of the biggest things to watch heading into this game.
All signs point to the two playing well in the new offensive makeup. Rivers has mentioned that he wants to increase the pace of the offense, and implement a lot more pick-and-roll play with this team. Playing faster should allow Simmons to thrive more, and using Embiid as a roller should create easy looks at the rim.
Daryl Morey did an amazing job improving the supporting cast around the two franchise cornerstones, now it will be interesting to see if a new system will up their games.
2) Shake Milton running the second unit.
Although there is a case for Shake Milton to be a starter, Doc Rivers seems focused on using Milton as the team’s sixth man. Based on his track record, it feels like Rivers is going to attempt to turn Milton into a Lou Williams-Esq player.
Despite it being a small sample size, Milton showed that he can be a solid rotation player at the NBA level. Milton’s game draws a lot of comparisons to reserve guards that Rivers have had a lot of success with in the past.
Seeing if Milton can lead the second unit and be a super-sub type of role player is something to watch as this season kicks off.
3) Tobias Harris back in a comfortable offensive setting.
After Daryl Morey went and acquired multiple outside shooters through the draft and trades, many people brought up what the improved spacing will do for Simmons and Embiid on the floor. But another player who should benefit from these moves is Tobias Harris.
These personnel changes will allow Harris to slide back to his natural position at the four, which should allow him to create mismatches on the offensive end. Not to mention Harris is now playing under Doc Rivers again, who had him playing at an All-Star level during their time together in LA.
Rivers has spoken a lot about Harris and wanting to get him back to the type of player he was in LA. Two key things that he has brought up is that he wants Harris to get back to being a quick decision-maker with the ball and wants to get him going downhill more on offense.
With the implementation of more pick-and-rolls, Harris should be able to attack mismatches more and generate similar looks he had with the Clippers. Before being traded to the Sixers, Harris was a +20 PPG player on strong efficiency. If he can get back to that level, he will make the Sixers’ offense even more dangerous.