The Sixers lost a heartbreaker Wednesday night to the Magic, coughing up a 16-point lead to lose in the final seconds. The Sixers have struggled mightily on offense in the 4th quarter all season and last night was no different. However, there were several encouraging signs with the infusion of Jimmy Butler into the lineup. Here are few observations from the game:
Butler’s presence opened up the floor for the rest of the offense
Joel Embiid had one of his best games of the season recording his first ever triple-double with a career-high 10 assists. Butler drew attention away from Embiid which allowed him to take his matchup one-on-one on several possessions. The Sixers also worked in a new element into their offense. Butler scored on multiple back door cuts with dishes from Embiid at the high post. It was nice to see Brett Brown try to play towards Butler’s strengths with new sets on the offensive end. All indications are that this team should be pretty scary once they have time to open up the playbook with Jimmy Butler.
Wilson Chandler looks healthy and was effective as the starting PF
We haven’t heard much from Chandler so far this season as he’s been recovering from a hamstring injury. With the loss of Dario Saric, Brett Brown inserted Chandler into the starting lineup to provide some floor spacing next to Embiid. At times, Chandler looked like a man possessed. He finished the game with 14 points and 4 rebounds on 60% shooting from the field. His highlights included a deep contested three and a ferocious slam on Terrence Ross. The Sixers will no doubt look to add at least one more forward to this team, however Chandler is making his case to get significant minutes at the 4 spot going forward.
Putting Fultz on the bench is the best move for his development
Fultz hit a new low this week against the Miami Heat on Monday. Videos of his attempted free throws with an obvious hitch have made the rounds on all the NBA talking head shows. With Butler onboard, it felt like the right time to put Fultz back on the bench and re-insert J.J. Redick into the starting lineup. Given Fultz’s mental state, it would be reasonable if he continued to struggled. He is under massive scrutiny and doesn’t have the ability to work through this away from the public eye. Last night, Fultz had a uninspiring stat line finishing with 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. He confidently stroked multiple mid range jump shots and was looking to attack the basket when he had the ball. Most importantly, he played hard and looked to be involved in the offense. Hopefully, his demotion allows him to really focus on getting better at what he does well, which is create on the ball. Without having to fit in around Simmons and Butler, Fultz should have an opportunity to work on his game in a relatively pressure-free environment.
Furkan Korkmaz is making his case for the last roster spot
It appeared Korkmaz was heading out of town just a few weeks ago. With the Sixers deep rotation, minutes had dried up for Furkan and he was receiving numerous DNP-CDs. Two weeks ago, he went to management and asked for a trade. With the Sixers playing down a man after the Butler trade, Korkmaz re-entered the rotation and capitalized on his opportunity. Over the last three games, he is averaging 12 points and 4 rebounds on 53% shooting from deep. The Sixers will most likely bring in another player, however Korkmaz is doing everything in his power earn more playing time.