WILMINGTON- The Philadelphia 76ers held their annual Blue/White scrimmage at the Chase Fieldhouse on the Wilmington Riverfront taturday in front of a great crowd.
The entire roster of stars was on display in some way, shape, or form for fans to see up close and personal. The doors opened at 11:15am for the noon start and the crowd started filing in right away.
The team was holding a shoot around from 11:15 until noon and disgruntled guard James Harden participated with a demeanor that was fairly positive. Harden’s situation is public knowledge at this point, demanding a trade to the Clippers after not being offered a multi-year max contract by the 76ers.
Despite participating in all of the warm-ups, Harden did not play in the scrimmage and he wasn’t even announced to the crowd as a member of the team.
When asked if that was a mutual decision, new 76ers head coach Nick Nurse said, “I told everybody that we would have a normal practice, with skill work after practice. As you can see, I kept all of the veteran players out of the practice.”
A clear avoidance of the elephant in the room.
The veterans were kept out of the scrimmage, aside from a few opening minutes for Tyrese Maxey. Joel Embiid, newly acquired Pat Beverly, and Danny Green coached up one squad led by newly acquired Kelly Oubre, Paul Reed and De’Anthony Melton, while Tobias Harris, PJ Tucker and Danuel House coached up a team of Jaden Springer, Maxey — temporarily — and newly acquired Mo Bamba.
It was mainly an opportunity to see some fringe rotational players and young players battling for a roster spot compete in a fixed format.
There were two periods of play, an 8- and 10-minute period with a five-minute intermission. Both periods began with an 80-80 tie score to simulate a late game scenario.
The first period was entertaining and competitive, ending in a 112 tie.
Jaden Springer nailed two 3-pointers, something that has been a focal point of his development, but he did have a costly turnover under a minute with his team leading that led to a Kelly Oubre game-tying three.
Oubre, the former Kansas star, stood out hitting 5 threes in the two periods, including three in the opening 8-minute frame. He should bring the Sixers some much needed wing-scoring depth.
Mo Bamba had a quality look from the top of the key to win the first session for his squad, but he missed wide-right.
Bamba, a local player from Westtown School in West Chester. Pennsylvania, has had an up and down career but has all the tools to help this team with front-court depth. He is 7-foot with shooting touch out to the three-point line, and natural rim protecting skills.
The only question about Bamba has been his motor. He tends to glide down the court and almost looks like lacks energy. If coach Nick Nurse can bring the motor out of him consistently, the Sixers might have found themselves a gem.
The second quarter was a competitive matchup as well.
Terquavion Smith stood out during this session. The undrafted free agent out of North Carolina State is FAST.
He was out on the break on every missed shot and showed some great finishing ability. He has a chance to be a deep roster spot out of training camp, but most likely will be right in Wilmington leading the Delaware Blue Coats this upcoming season. He will be worth the price of admission in the G-League.
Another standout of the second session was David Duke from Providence. Duke has spent the past two seasons with the Brooklyn Nets and flashes athleticism, defensive intensity and long-range shooting ability.
Duke, if not claimed by another team, will be a big part of the Blue Coats as well.
Wild 76ers finish
The end of the second session was a wild one. Team Maxey held a 6-point lead with 17 seconds to go in the period. They fouled Team Embiid for two shots.
Head coach Pat Bev, who was looking like Pat Riley in the 80’s with his coaching intensity, alerted his team to make the first and miss the second free throw.
They executed this strategy perfectly as Paul Reed grabbed the offensive rebound, kicked out to Kelly Oubre who eventually drilled a 3-point shot to cut the lead to two. He then stole the in-bounds pass and called timeout before stepping out of bounds giving his team one last shot.
Pat Bev, Embiid and Danny Green huddled up for the last second play call. It had a game 7 atmosphere in the huddle for this play and they came back with a screen and pop with Paul Reed, who fake pumped and attempted a step-back 3, which unfortunately was no good.
The final of the 1o-minute quater was 115-113.
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Contract players Ricky Council and Terquavion Smith had glowing words for the Wilmington crowd.
“It was a great atmosphere and a lot of people showed out to support,” said Council.
“I’m just happy they pulled up to support. Shout out to the fans,” Smith added.
Asked what advice two-way player Jaden Springer may have provided, Council said, “I really just wanted to ask him about the area and what it was like to live around here, and he said it was cool and a good area.”
Nick Nurse seemed to enjoy the packed event.
“It was good,” he said. “I think it’s always good to do things in the community for the fans.”
The 76ers have two more preseason games on Oct. 16 and Oct. 20 before regular season play begins on Oct. 26 with a tip-off with the Milwaukee Bucs.
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