Five Things to Watch in the Philadelphia 76ers Last Preseason Game

Oct 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavaliers won 108-105. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavaliers won 108-105. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers face off on Friday night in the final preseason game. Here’s what to watch for.

The Miami Heat will host Joel Embiid and the hapless Philadelphia 76ers Friday night in what will be the final preseason game for both squads. Aside from the health of Embiid, the Sixers have had few positives to take away from this preseason — they hope to change that with opening night less than a week away. While the game doesn’t appear to be televised locally, out-of-market fans should be able to watch the game with Miami’s broadcast team via League Pass.

Let’s take a look at five storylines to be on the lookout for in South Beach.

Joel Embiid

Any Sixers conversation this preseason starts and ends with Embiid, so it’s no surprise that he’s number one on our list. With every game he plays, there seems to be a new weapon added to his offensive arsenal. Hell, he was commanding double teams within the first 10 minutes of his first professional game.

He’s legit as legit gets, and it’s scary to think what kind of two-way force he could be by season’s end. As he continues to shake off rust and adjust to the speed of the game, the rest of the league would be wise to take notice. Keep an eye on his minutes, his stamina, and as always, just enjoy every second he’s out on the floor. He’s the best, you guys.

Dario’s Shot

After starting out hot in his first two preseason games, Dario Saric has cooled off to a considerable degree. In the past three preseason games, The Homie is shooting a horrendous 4-22 from the field, including 0-7 from beyond the arc. The offense has been stagnant, sure, and it’s only preseason, but there may be some more growing pains for the Croatian forward than previously anticipated this upcoming season.

If Dario’s shot isn’t falling, that spells trouble for a Sixers offense desperate for shooting. Consider me worried.

Gerald Henderson’s Everything

Henderson was signed in the hopes of offering a stabilizing presence for a young roster, but he’s looked anything but the veteran presence the Sixers were hoping when they acquired him. It’s certainly too early to worry about Henderson, and with a two-year contract with the second year non-guaranteed, there was virtually no risk in the signing.

But now that Ben Simmons is out, players like Henderson, Jerryd Bayless, T.J. McConnell, Saric, and Sergio Rodriguez are going to be forced into larger playmaking roles — roles they’re likely not capable of performing. Again, it’s preseason, but it would be nice if Henderson could shake off that offseason rust and provide a modicum of stability on offense.

The Point Guard Battle of the Century

In what may be the unsexiest training camp battle in recent memory, T.J. McConnell and Sergio Rodriguez have been duking it out for the starting point guard position. It appears as if McConnell has the slight lead, but I wouldn’t put too much stock in who Brown goes with on opening night.

Related Story: TJ McConnell should start over Sergio Rodriguez

With Ben Simmons out, this season is going to be defined by experimentation, and I expect to see both players (along with Jerryd Bayless) to see plenty of time in the Sixers’ thin backcourt. I love both of these guys to death, but they both would be best suited as second (or third) string point guards. 

Last Chance for Sauce Castillo?

I wrote last month why I think the Sixers should give Nik Stauskas one more year to showcase what he can do. Now that Elton Brand has retired, the former lottery pick may get that shot. Still, the Sauce hasn’t inspired much confidence in his ability to carve out a niche at the NBA level, and this preseason has been as disastrous as possible for Stauskas, who has missed all 7 of his attempts from the beyond the arc.

Bryan Colangelo may have his eye on some other recently waived castoffs (Hi Markel Brown!), so Stauskas’s roster spot is far from secure. Unless Stauskas goes ham against the Heat, it’s possible this is the last time we’ll see Sauce Castillo in a Sixers uniform. He’ll need to provide something –anything — if he wants another shot in Philadelphia.

Next: 5 Reasonable Season Outcomes for the Sixers

We’re less than a week away until opening night, so let’s enjoy the last bit of optimism before  the real losses begin to mount. And remember, as long as Joel Embiid continues to build upon the flashes of brilliance he’s displayed in preseason, none of this marginal stuff in the middle matters.