Brett Brown kept his rotation relatively tight for most of the Sixers' preseason opener against Melbourne United at the Wells Fargo Center.
The starting five of Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid each played over 20 minutes. Two reserves - JJ Redick and Mike Muscala - also reached the 20-minute mark.
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It likely would have been a third if Wilson Chandler didn't suffer a left hamstring strain. While the decision to hold Chandler out for the remainder of the game wasn't a shock, the player who replaced him in the rotation was a bit of a surprise.
"I decided to go with Jerryd (Bayless) and Jerryd has been practicing well," Brown said after the Sixers' 104-84 win (see observations). "If I'm true to my word where I say the gym will tell me and the gym will sort of be our compass for a while, and Jerryd deserved to play. He's had a good training camp."
Bayless has had a rough time since signing a three-year, $27 million deal with the Sixers prior to the 2016-17 season. He played just three games in that first year because of a wrist injury. He had an opportunity early last season in his return but eventually fell out of the rotation. The same was expected this season until Chandler went down.
Bayless posted four points and three rebounds in 13:48 of action on Friday. We'll see if Brown continues to call his number with Chandler sidelined.
What about Wilson?
Speaking of Chandler, the veteran forward's status moving forward wasn't immediately known. However, it's an injury that doesn't sit well with Brown.
"I never like a hamstring injury," Brown said. "I don't know how severe the hamstring injury is as I speak to you all. We'll learn more later. I just know from lots of experiences with hamstrings it's something that personally I worry about on first glance."
Let's get physical
The Sixers and Melbourne United had plenty of connections among the two teams (see story), but that didn't prevent anyone from getting after it on the floor. There was physical play shown from both sides right from the opening tip.
"It was a good matchup physicality-wise," Simmons said. "You're always going to get that from an Australian team, the physical side. I think that's just the way we play. I love it. It's a good test to us and the way we play and the way we handle ourselves, so they definitely brought that."
"They play hard," Embiid said. "They made shots and they play together. I had fun playing against them."
Practice makes perfect
Simmons was looking to add to his highlight reel with a pass off the backboard to himself early in the first quarter. Too bad for him, a Melbourne United defender got in the way and Simmons was forced to dish to Fultz for a layup (see video).
Despite the breakdown, don't expect Simmons to completely give up on the Tracy McGrady signature dunk attempt in the future.
"Of course," Simmons responded when asked if he would try the play during a regular-season game. "That's why you practice now."