GRADES: Philadelphia 76ers 90, Memphis Grizzlies 83

Ben Simmons | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Ben Simmons | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers won their first mid-season scrimmage behind a strong performance from new-look Ben Simmons

In their first real basketball game in four months, the Philadelphia 76ers took no time at all to shake off the rust and handle the Grizzlies. The new starting lineup, featuring Shake Milton at point guard and Ben Simmons‘ move to power forward, kicked off a 28-4 first-quarter run and the team never looked back.

Though the Grizzlies clearly weren’t yet up to full speed, the Sixers defense smothered their Ja Morant-led offensive attack. During one particularly impressive moment early in the game, the Sixers held the Memphis squad scoreless for a six-minute stretch during which Simmons racked up two steals and the team forced eight turnovers.

The spotlight for the Sixers was on the revamped starting lineup’s offensive fit, and while the team’s offense looked vanilla compared to what we’ll likely see come playoff time, Simmons and Milton both looked at home in their new roles. Milton initiated and ran the halfcourt offense, while Simmons saw more touches facing up at the elbow and even knocked down a corner 3. In transition, though, Simmons still pushed the ball and was his usual explosive self — in the second quarter, Simmons threw a gorgeous no-look lob to Tobias Harris.

Not everything about the Sixers was new, exciting, and impressive: Tobias Harris and stalwart big man Joel Embiid played the same roles as usual on offense, and both put up fairly pedestrian numbers in their limited minutes. Al Horford also looked slow and out of sync in his minutes at backup center, and the team suffered its typical third-quarter collapse. The team’s flashes of brilliance early on — and 26-point halftime lead while the team’s real lineups shared the floor — leave lots of reasons for optimism once the real season restart begins.

BEN SIMMONS. A. <strong>22 mins | 9 pts | 7 reb | 9 ast | 3 stl | 0 blk | 1 TO | 4-9 FG | 1-2 3PT| 0-0 FT | 2 PF | +9 </strong><p>Simmons seemed comfortable in his new role at point forward, racking up four assists in his first five minutes of action. While he struggled scoring at the rim, Simmons’s athleticism on defense and in transition was obvious — he’s clearly recovered from the nerve impingement that held him out of the team’s last eight games. Simmons also knocked down one of his two corner threes, and shot the ball with confidence he’s never shown in a Sixers uniform before.</p>. PF. Philadelphia 76ers

B-. <strong>12 mins | 10 pts | 6 reb | 1 ast | 0 stl | 0 blk | 2 TO | 3-10 FG | 2-4 3PT| 2-2 FT | 3 PF | +12 </strong><p>Embiid settled for jumpers more than usual and didn’t knock many of them down; once the games actually count in the standings, he’ll probably be more willing to play physical and take contact in the post. Defensively, he controlled the game despite a lack of flashy plays or blocks — while Embiid was on the court, the Grizzlies barely even ventured into the paint.</p>. C. Philadelphia 76ers. JOEL EMBIID

B. <strong>17 mins | 6 pts | 1 reb | 3 ast | 0 stl | 0 blk | 1 TO | 2-4 FG | 1-3 3PT| 1-2 FT | 1 PF | +6</strong><p>In his first action starting at point guard alongside Embiid and Simmons, Milton looked confident and capable as a facilitator. Milton knocked down an open three, generated a few good looks for Embiid in their two-man game, and helped the team cruise to its huge first-quarter lead. Milton won’t be replicating his monster 39-point Clippers game in his new role anytime soon, but his fit as a starter is encouraging — and late in the game, he still got a few isolation opportunities while playing with the bench unit.</p>. PG. Philadelphia 76ers. SHAKE MILTON

TOBIAS HARRIS. B. <strong>22 mins | 15 pts | 10 reb | 2 ast | 1 stl | 1 blk | 4 TO | 6-11 FG | 0-1 3PT| 3-4 FT | 0 PF | +9</strong><p>Harris looked capable as an off-the-dribble wing scorer and, despite a pair of ugly air-balls early in the game, had an efficient game as the team’s leading scorer. He also put together a few impressive highlights on fastbreaks early in the game, including a breakaway dunk and impressive alley-oop finish from Simmons.</p>. SF. Philadelphia 76ers

A-. <strong>9 mins | 9 pts | 3 reb | 0 ast | 0 stl | 2 blk | 0 TO | 4-4 FG | 1-1 3PT| 0-0 FT | 1 PF | -1     </strong><p>Norvel Pelle barely saw the court, but the few minutes he did play were full of his typical explosiveness on both ends. Pelle anchored the team defensively and protected the paint better than Horford, adding a few highlight blocks along the way, and his energetic offense helped quell a late Grizzlies push. Pelle also canned the first three-pointer of his career on a frantic corner three as the shot clock expired.</p>. C. Philadelphia 76ers. NORVEL PELLE

Rookie YouTuber and defensive stud Matisse Thybulle left his mark on the game, picking up a steal in his first defensive possession and throwing down a two-hand poster dunk early in the second quarter.

Josh Richardson, despite not seeing many of his minutes alongside Joel Embiid — which became a staple in the team’s offense before the season suspension — added six points on 2-for-4 shooting from the field.

Glenn Robinson knocked down a three and finished a nasty reverse dunk in his first few minutes of play, but didn’t do much else in his 14 minutes of play.

The Grizzlies, buoyed by their impressive 3-point shooting in the second half, nearly pulled off a comeback in the last few minutes of the game, cutting the Sixers lead to five with under a minute left. Most of the Sixers’ collapse, though, can be attributed to Memphis leaving in their starting lineup in the fourth quarter while Philly gave heavy minutes to bench players like Raul Neto, Kyle O’Quinn, and Marial Shayok (who, incidentially, knocked down two late free throws to clinch the game).

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The Philadelphia 76ers will play their next scrimmage on NBA TV against the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday, July 26 at 12:00 PM E.T.