The Sixers faced off with the Raptors in both teams’ first game of the Las Vegas NBA 2K23 Summer League on Saturday afternoon. Isaiah Joe scored 24 points to lead the Sixers, but Philadelphia was pummeled in the second half en route to a 97-77 loss.
Toronto started Dalano Banton, Jeff Dowtin Jr., Ron Harper Jr., DJ Wilson, and Christian Koloko.
Philadelphia started Cassius Winston, Jaden Springer, Isaiah Joe, Julian Champagnie, and Charles Bassey.
Here’s what I saw.
Isaiah Joe had some good moments as a playmaker in the first half of this game. There were a few occasions throughout the season in which Doc Rivers contrasted Joe’s abilities against those of Furkan Korkmaz and mentioned that Joe needed to make substantial progress in developing his repertoire when it came to putting the ball on the floor. After not doing much in the way of standing out in the first few Summer League games, Joe has showcased much of his growth against the Thunder on Thursday and now the Raptors on Saturday.
He attacked wide in transition, penetrating the lane and kicking to his teammates to facilitate swings. There was a play mixed in there in which Joe slowed his pace in transition to draw a defender up in anticipation of a pull-up, only to leverage that new space to hit Charles Bassey for an open dunk. His efforts didn’t always materialize in baskets for his teammates. But, it was probably the best he’s looked as a ball-handler to this point in his career.
Joe didn’t stop there. The notable involvement as a playmaker bled into his scoring game. He was the only Sixer to draw eyes in this affair, draining 7 of his 9 three-point attempts en route to 25 points. The heat really picked up in the third quarter. He handled the ball well in Double Drag actions, lowering his dribble as he cleared screens in crowded areas before snaking back towards the middle of the floor and pulling up for shots off the bounce. Even when Joe curled for shots off the catch, he took efficient, straight-line paths to the ball so as to get clear looks. He demonstrated clean footwork, too, landing with the inside foot first as he loaded into his shot.
Jaden Springer had moments in which he slashed off the catch on swing passes around the perimeter. He didn’t look entirely overwhelmed when handling the ball on those swings. Even if he lacked the burst to make anything of those slashes, the offensive side of the ball wasn’t above his head in those brief moments.
The Sixers put forth maybe the most horrendous first quarter you could’ve asked for in the Summer League. 23 possessions, 13 shots, 8 turnovers. They had a lot of trouble with Toronto’s length and athleticism. If they weren’t overwhelmed into live-ball turnovers by the size, the Sixers’ shots were pinned against the backboard by a lurking Raptor eager for a volleyball spike.
The game, in general, was pretty hideous. Toronto went on a 16-0 run in the first quarter. The Sixers went on a 15-0 run in the second quarter. Toronto closed the game out on a 41-13 run starting in the last 3:30 of the third quarter. Pretty lopsided from one run to another.
Charles Bassey gets whistled for a ton of offensive fouls on screens. I think most of it has to do with a lack of team chemistry during Summer League. Bassey probably has some bad habits as a screener. Such is predictable when you’re a raw big learning the NBA game. But, some of it likely involves poor timing with his ball-handlers. If the ball-handler leaves the screen before the big finishes setting it, the handler is running the big into an offensive foul. That timing would improve with growing chemistry. But, you’re just not going to get much of that in Summer League.
The Sixers (0-1) will clash with the Brooklyn Nets (0-1) on Sunday afternoon. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:30 PM, Eastern time. You can watch the game on ESPN3.