The Sixers flew home last night after their 98-92 win over the Celtics at UMASS's Mullins Center. They returned to the PCOM court today at noon, for a practice session that lasted about 90 minutes.
Of note: Kareem Rush, who had been sidelined since Monday with a left-ankle sprain, practiced. He did not appear to be limping. Photo: It looks to me like he's swinging a ping-pong paddle, but that's actually Rush working on his shot after today's practice. Rush and Andre Iguodala spent about 20 minutes post-practice alternating shots.
We'll be running a Live Chat today at 3 p.m. to discuss last night's preseason opener. If you would like to join the discussion, click here: Sixers Chat.
Here's how things broke down last night, in terms of the rotation:
Starters: Andre Miller, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Elton Brand, Sam Dalembert.
First players off the bench: Willie Green (for Young with 5:23 left in first), Lou Williams (for Miller with 3:17 left in first), Reggie Evans (for Brand with 2:06 left in first), Young (for Iguodala with :45 left in first).
Did not play: Donyell Marshall, Jared Reiner.
Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said he was especially pleased with the way his starting group began the third quarter -- Sixers outscored the Celtics in that quarter, 28-21.
"I thought our defense got better, our pressure got better," Cheeks said. "That’s one of the things we talked about at halftime, being better with our pressure defense. First half, first preseason game, getting up-and-down the floor, I thought we looked a little tired in the first half and got our wind in the second half and had more pressure on the ball and creating turnovers, which is something we talked about."
Elton Brand scored 11 points and had four rebounds. He spent the bulk of his minutes matched against Kevin Garnett, who frequently forced Brand into difficult turnaround jumpers from the midpost. Since the offense is geared toward running the ball through Brand, the offense looked a little slow last night. At times there wasn't much movement.
"This is his first game actually playing with a different team after being someplace else for a while," Cheeks said of Brand's debut. "It's going to be a little different. It’s going to take him a minute. I still thought he did well in the first half, second half was better. I would expect each game would be a little bit better, a little bit better."
Lou Williams shot the ball well and scored 27 points. Thad Young piled up 21 points with his rebounding and nifty (yes, I said 'nifty') finishes around the hoop. Young also picked up a few hoops in transition.
Should the Sixers start running plays for Young?
"He’s working toward that," joked Cheeks after the game. "He’s such an elusive player, scores on rebounds, has the ability to post up. While there may not yet be a play for him … we’ll see how that goes as the season goes."
After the game, Brand talked about how he feels the Sixers compare in the East.
"I think we can grow," Brand said. "To be one of those upper echelon teams, we have a lot of work to do. We’re not there yet. But, Orlando, Detroit, they’re solid veterans they’re good every year. Toronto is improved and Clevland with Lebron ..."
Added Brand: We have the talent to get there. We put in our work, which we’re trying to do, we could be there."
How did Brand feel about his debut?
"It went good," Brand said. "Definitely satisfied. Played well against the champs. Definitely gotta shake the rust off. But, especially that third quarter, we’re competing with a team that’s played together for a championship run."
Observation from last night: During the first quarter, Dalembert came down with a rebound in front of the Celtics bench. Dalembert lowered the ball and a Boston player knocked it away from him and out of bounds. Iguodala, standing next to Sam on the court, tilted his head, looked at Sam, and brought an imaginary ball to his chin as if to say "keep it tight." When Dalembert walked to the bench, an animated Donyell Marshall said something to Sam. It seems like Sam's the guy for which everyone has advice.
Cheeks on Marreese Speights: "I thought Speights played good, I thought he played well. He worked himself around, that was a lot of minutes for him to step in and play in his first preseason game. That was pretty good to do some of the things he did: rebounding the ball, making some plays. I thought for his first pro game it was pretty good."