In front of about 2,000 fans at the Bryce Jordan Center, the 76ers scrimmaged Black vs. White.
Black Team Starters: Andre Miller, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Elton Brand, Sam Dalembert. Reserves: Royal Ivey, Donyell Marshall, Jared Reiner, Antywane Robinson.
White Team Starters: Lou Williams, Kareem Rush, Willie Green, Reggie Evans, Theo Ratliff. Reserves: Marreese Speights, Mo Rice, Andre Emmett, Cory Underwood.
They played 10-minute quarters.
Black Team: 24 27 22 27=100
White Team: 27 13 25 22=87
(Considering these teams were very obviously split first team/second team, this is a darn close score. Once again, depth on this team is incredible.)
What -- I should say 'Who' -- stood out the most in tonight's action was Thad Young. He played fantastic. I can't think of anything he didn't do. He hit a three-pointer, he crashed the offensive boards, he finished in transition, he came off the curl cut, he defended, he rebounded ...
After the scrimmage, head coach Maurice Cheeks said of Thad: "He was great, really good. And not one time did we run a play for him."
For the White Team, you'd have to say the standout was Willie Green. Whoever thought Green would go quietly into the night was proven wrong. Green shot the heck out of the ball, from long-range and mid-range. I believe he hit three or four three-pointers. There were no official statistics, and my attention was occasionally (read, often) diverted in finishing my story in time for deadline, but Green played very well. He was very aggressive. When the ball was in his hands he was looking for a way to score. I know folks have mentioned that this mentality can also get him into trouble.
Cheeks on Green: "Willie played well. He was looking to score the ball. That's how he plays."
A few other offensive thoughts:
1.) Andre Iguodala started slow, but he had one stretch where he had a fantastic move to the rim, then a mid-post-up turn-around, fade-away jumper (that was a lot of hyphenated words), and then a long three that barely splashed the net.
2.) Donyell Marshall and Theo Ratliff. Marshall made his outside shots and played, as Cheeks said afterwards, like a "cagey veteran." Both these guys make plays that younger players don't: Stepping out on screens, knowing exactly where to be on defense, etc.
3.) Rush has the smoothest shot on the team. He isn't doing much else on the court, though. But his release is a thing of beauty and he hit a few of them tonight.
4.) Speights: I thought he made an impression tonight. He took a charge. He grabbed an offensive board and got fouled. He showed nice touch from about 20 feet. I wouldn't say it was a breakthrough, but he was noticed.
General thoughts from Cheeks: "It was better than before, energy, execution, getting up and down the floor ... [we need to do] a better job getting defensive pressure, get it back to the way we normally play."
Defensive observations: (and there won't be many)
It seemed like there wasn't a ton of defense being played. There was very little full-court pressure, and not much of the trapping, rotating, etc., that Cheeks would like to see. This is, most likely, a result of tired legs and the first open scrimmage on the arena floor.
Ivey's forte is defense. After the scrimmage Cheeks said (speaking of some of the reserves on the Black Team) "I like Donyell better on offense, Royal better on defense." Not that he was necessarily comparing these two, only speaking about what each brings to the team.
Reggie Evans brings energy not only to the court, but to an entire arena. The college students here loved him. Everytime he checked out of the game there was a "Reggie!" cry.
Sam Dalembert is still trying to figure out where he fits in with Elton and this offense (for more on this, read Saturday morning's print edition story ... What? There's a print edition? I know, I know ...). Sam didn't do a whole lot out there tonight, but he did have one nice exchange when Brand tossed him an alley-op in transition. Also, the first possession of the game these two played really well together. Brand caught it at the elbow, faced up, waited for Sam to come off a short-corner downscreen, then passed it to Sam, who shot the mid-range jumper (it didn't go in). At the end of the scrimmage, Sam had ice on his shoulder. A doctor looked at the shoulder after and listed him as "day-to-day" (aren't we all?) with a left-shoulder strain.
All right, I'm running out of gas here on this Friday night. Those are the key observations, but if anyone has any specific questions, post a comment, and I'll respond to it.
Tomorrow the Sixers will be practicing at 11 a.m. I'll get something up after.
Until tomorrow ...