By Lewis Gould
The Sixers ended their exo season yesterday with a 3-1 record after a 115-112 loss to the Mavs in China, and coach Brett Brown unveiled a new wrinkle.
As he has throughout the preseason, Markelle Fultz started the game with J.J. Redick coming off the bench. However, in the second half it was Redick starting and Fultz came off the bench.
And this change in starters for each half could continue into the season, which opens a week from tonight in Boston.
Here’s Brown’s explainer:
“It didn’t have anything to do with Markelle being in foul trouble,” Brown told reporters. “Part of my responsibility is to be able to put these guys in environments with different combinations and try to figure that out as quickly as I’m able.
“I believe that Markelle is at his best with the ball, and so when you watch how I substitute and determine patterns, when you bring him off the bench in the second half you’re able to get him like four or five more minutes as a point guard. I believe it’s something that we’ll continue to look at. Again, it was done for that reason.”
Brown is still experimenting with his semi-positionless lineups. With Fultz on the court, Ben Simmons acts more as a true forward, a four really, and even posted up a little.
While Joel Embiid can hit a three the Sixers don’t want him living on the perimeter. Simmons does not have a reliable jump shot, and while Fultz’s jumper is improved he’s not taking a lot of them and teams are going to make him prove he can shoot it before they respect it. Put three non-shooters on the floor and things get clogged up fast. Redick opens up that spacing.