What to Take From the Sixers’ First Game Action

Jrue Holiday and the Sixers defeated the Wizards 103-78 on Friday.

On Friday night the Sixers opened the 2011-2012 NBA preseason with a matchup against last year’s first overall pick John Wall and the new look Washington Wizards (highlights). The Sixers thoroughly defeated the Wizards 103-78.  The NBA has outlined a two game preseason for teams leading up to the regular season which begins on Christmas day. The Sixers will also take on the Wizards on Tuesday.

Going into Friday’s game, there were certainly a number of particular things to pay attention to when trying to decipher whether the Sixers will improve on their .500 record from last season, or whether the young team would falter. The game against Washington certainly answered some questions about this Sixers team but it also left some things to be wondered about.

The number one thing to pay attention to was the play of point guard Jrue Holiday.

Last season Holiday assured the team and fans that he is going to be the Sixers’ floor general for years to come and the importance of the point guard position is something that is undeniable.

Holiday looked sharp last night for the Sixers. He scored 12 points, dished out five assists and pulled down four rebounds in 20 minutes of action. Holiday was also 2-2 from downtown. He looked very fluid at the helm for the Sixers. He clearly asserted himself as the primarily ball handler when he was on the floor. Although that is expected for any point guard, there were several times last season when he was utilized off the ball. It seems like we will see less of that this year. Holiday did not disappoint and clearly outplayed Wall.

Another point of interest heading into the matchup was the play of last year’s second overall pick in the draft. Evan Turner. Turner did not start for the Sixers last night as Doug Collins decided to stick with his bench trio of Turner, Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young.

Turner looked comfortable against the Wizards notching 16 points and seven rebounds. Turner also contributed three assists but had five turnovers.

There are expectations that Turner will emerge as a starter at some point this season but on Friday, Jodie Meeks continued to play alongside Holiday in the Sixers starting lineup.

While youth is a major aspect of the Sixers, the team has two veterans who are still the leaders of this team, Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand. The veteran power forward Brand looked solid against the Wizards. He dropped 11 points and pulled down five boards in 20 minutes of action. He led the team in scoring last season and another solid year from Brand will be essential if the Sixers believe they can take another step.

Iguodala was not quite as solid. He failed to score a single point against the Wizards going 0-6 in 20 minutes of action. The other facets of his well rounded style were intact as he recorded four rebounds and five assists but no points on a night when your team scores 103 is far from what is expected of Iguodala.

Iguodala dealt with a number of trade rumors prior to the lockout but they have yet to emerge since the dispute ended. Could last night’s performance point to the franchise realizing they can do without Iguodala?

Another key to any first game of the year is watching the rookies. The Sixers selected power forward/center Nikola Vucevic in the draft as well as Temple product Lavoy Allen. Vucevic played 22 minutes and recorded five assists and a blocked shot. He shot 0-4 from the field. Allen played three minutes and recorded two fouls.

The Sixers stellar bench picked up from where they left off last season. In addition to Turner’s 16 points, Young added 10 points and Williams scored a team high 19 points in 20 minutes.

The Sixers had six scorers in double figures (Holiday, Brand, Hawes, Turner, Young, and Williams). The team shot 51 percent from the floor and 47 percent from three point range. They took 21 free throws and knocked down 17. The defense held Washington to 33 percent shooting and only 20 percent from downtown. The Sixers had more rebounds and more assists than Washington. Collins was pleased with the team’s chemistry (see interview via CSNPhilly).

It is certainly hard to judge the team based on a preseason game following an abbreviated offseason against a Washington team that looked more like they were playing in a pick-up game, however, the team showed some good things and it is worth noting how Collins and the group improves Tuesday when they take on the Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center for their second and final preseason game.

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