Seltzer's Notebook | Offensive Focus, Redick's Return to STAPLES, Simmons' Slams
By many measures, the Sixers have so far shown encouraging offensive progress when compared to recent years.
Over the course of its last 10 games, during which all 7 of its wins have come, the team has ranked 14th in the NBA with an offensive rating of 105.4 (last season, the Sixers finished 30th in the league with 100.7 offensive rating), relying on a system predicated largely on the pass.
From what Brett Brown has observed, this emphasis has created a double-edged sword dynamic of sorts, and he and his players are focused on refining it.
“The blessing is we share the ball,” Brown said Tuesday, following a practice on UCLA’s campus. “We pass more than any other team in the NBA (353.8 per game), and we get great ball movement and player movement.”
The flipside, however, as Brown pointed out, is that given the volume of passes the Sixers make, they’re more prone to turnovers. While continuing to play within the confines of his scheme, the head coach also seems to want his club take greater stock of time and score.
“Not playing too rigid while still caring for the ball, that’s a delicate balance. Early days, 13 games in, that’s the challenge.”
Redick Makes Return
When JJ Redick was an LA Clipper, his importance to the team was such that a monstrous banner of his likeness was hung from the STAPLES Center rafters alongside those made for Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan (see third banner from left).
While Redick’s banner needed to be replaced this off-season, on the heels of him signing with the Sixers, it was clear Monday - his first time back in the building he called home the last four years - that Clippers’ fans still very much had fond feelings for the veteran sharpshooter.
The tribute video below was shown during the game’s first media timeout.
“It didn’t really see it,” Redick said of the montage. “We were talking in the huddle, and when I came out of the huddle, [LA Clippers trainer] Jasen Powell yelled over at me, ‘They’re doing it for you!’
“I just tried to stay in the moment of the game. It was obviously touching that they would do that, it was very nice of them to make a video.”
Redick’s evening ended with 10 points. His only 3-pointer came at a clutch juncture, slicing the Sixers’ deficit to 100-98 with 2 minutes to go.
“It was good to get the win,” said Redick, who set a single-season Clippers’ record last year with 201 threes. “For our team, on this road trip, any win is huge. For me personally, it was nice to win this game.”
BenJammin’ be Slammin'
Just how menacing was Ben Simmons at the rim Monday night?
Try this play, for Exhibit A.
Or this one, for Exhibit B.
There’s also Exhibit C…
And finally, Exhibit G…
“I was just trying to be more aggressive,” said Simmons, whose first 7 field goals Monday were all dunks (his final 2 baskets were powerful, driving lay-ups). “As soon as I turned the corner, just go, get to the rim. I saw that early in the game, [then] slowed it down. When we needed a quick bucket or two, I tried to get there.”
“He can get where he wants to go all by himself quite often,” Brett Brown said.
The trick going forward, Brown thinks, is for Simmons to continue to get a feel for when to take off on his own, and when use his penetrating prowess to set up teammates.
“That’s going to be his evolution. What we are learning is give him space, give him driving lanes, and then I think you get the best of everything. He plays fast, he wants to attack, he wants to take games over. It’s a quality that all great players have. We want to promote it, and now we’re just trying to refine it once it’s a half court game.”
Dario Saric was, in Brett Brown’s mind, an unsung hero Monday. The Croatian had 2 points and 3 rebounds in 33 minutes, but handed out a key assist on Robert Covington’s pivotal go-ahead 3-pointer with 33 seconds to play.
Saric also was tasked with the unenviable assignment of guarding LA Clippers All-Star Blake Griffin for most of the contest. The effort level and physicality stood out to his head coach.
“He could work with Blake, and war with Blake,” Brown said of Saric. “I thought his stat line reflects nothing to do with how important he was.”