July 08, 2015
After dropping the opener in Utah to the San Antonio Spurs by three points on Monday night, the Summer Sixers rebounded nicely and defeated the Boston Celtics, 76-62. It should be noted that Boston was without its best player, Marcus Smart (or, as they say in New England, “Mahcus Smahtt”).
For this recap, let’s not overthink things and simply address whatever is noteworthy with a bullet point:
• Jahlil Okafor (13 points, 5-12 shooting, 3-6 free throws, 9 rebounds, 4 turnovers, one steal, +11) was average again, which is also to say he wasn’t overly impressive against inferior competition to what he’ll see in the NBA. That is not meant as an indictment of his career prospects, but saying he played well in this particular game feels like a stretch.
• Here is what I didn’t like about Okafor’s performance, in no particular order: Like Nerlens Noel in last year’s summer league, he looked winded, and the fatigue seemed to negatively affect his play; He didn’t box out on the defensive glass as much you would like to see; For someone who had excellent hands in college, he dropped a few decent set-ups from T.J. McConnell; The Celtics were consistently fronting him in the post, and he never really found a way to counter (also a team issue)
• Here is what I liked about Okafor’s performance, in no particular order: For the second straight night, his post-ups consistently bent the defense, which gave the Sixers’ perimeter players open shots and the ability to attack on the kick-out pass; He held up acceptably well in pick-and-roll defense, generally playing soft coverage and corralling the ball-handler at the foul line
• Offensively for the Sixers, the difference between the first and second half was night and day. McConnell did a nice job as the catalyst in the final 20 minutes pushing the tempo.
• Here are a couple of terrible Vines taken from my television that capture some of the difficulty that Okafor and the Sixers as a team found in the first half. First, here is the big fella trying to post up right where Furkan Aldemir is rolling to the rim. Oops: