The NBA restart for the Philadelphia 76ers begins this Saturday against the Indiana Pacers.
Head coach Brett Brown has moved point guard Ben Simmons to power forward. He has second-year guard Shake Milton as the team’s point guard along with shooting guard Josh Richardson, small forward Tobias Harris and center Joel Embiid.
Brown has also taken a good look at some of his other players in the scrimmages heading into his matchup with the Pacers. He likes what he’s seen at the defensive end of the floor.
“We play pretty good defense when we have our core players in the game,” Brown said. “I think the first three periods of each of our games. I like what I’m seeing with our defense.”
Harris feels the Sixers need to get off to a good start in the first contest. He believes the three scrimmages played before the restart were good indicators of what the team can accomplish.
“Obviously, in these games, it’s to get the rhythm, get your feel,” Harris said. “For me, just slowing down a little bit. And I’ll watch film and I’ll progress. But I’m always looking to make improvements, see where I can flow offensively and see where I’m most needed to help our team win.
“That’s how I look at it. I think, overall, as a team aspect, I think these three games, we have a lot of positives take from it and we’ll just ride with that. I’m pretty confident in our group, how we’ve been playing and how we’ve been practicing. So we’ll just look to ride off that.”
Harris gave views on the new starting lineup and the importance of Embiid staying healthy after missing two scrimmage games, but Brown expects him to play against the Pacers.
“I think, obviously, coming into this new starting lineup, the biggest thing is our conditioning,” Harris said. “”So I thought that we came into Orlando with a good base of conditioning and being able to get out and run. Obviously, we’re going to continue to feel one another’s game out there, but I think the pace and the flow has been good.
“It would have been great to have Joel [Embiid] playing, but health is our number one goal. To get him right and to get him ready for when we open up.”
There’s been a lot of talk about Simmons playing up front. Harris believes playing around the basket could really benefit him.
“I think, for him, it brings him closer to the basket to be able to use his size, his strength, his ability to shoot over guys,” Harris said. “He’s still efficient and he’s still impacting the game in transition. He’s able to just be closer to the basket, make plays, still pick the defense apart and play his game. So, I like the position for him.”
The Sixers are one of four teams that could make a strong run in the Eastern Conference. The other teams include the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics.
The Sixers were 39-26 when the NBA suspended the season on March 11.
Tipoff will be at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Philadelphia inside the NBA bubble at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla.