Sixers summer league

3 observations after Sixers build big lead, lose steam in summer league defeat

The Sixers have one game left in Las Vegas.

Jaden Springer
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The Sixers' large second-half lead evaporated Friday in Las Vegas.

The Clippers came back for a 102-91 win, dropping the Sixers to 1-3 in the Vegas summer league.

Jaden Springer was the Sixers' top scorer with 15 points on 4-for-11 shooting. He also had five rebounds, five steals and three blocks.

Here are observations on the Sixers’ loss to L.A.:

Lots of zone reps 

On his first touch, Springer went right at Xavier Moon and converted an and-one layup. After posting 49 points over the Sixers’ first two games in Las Vegas, he was aggressive early as a jump shooter and driver. 

Throughout summer league, Springer has made quite a few play-saving defensive recoveries — erasing transition layups, recognizing half-court breakdowns and rotating over to solve them, etc. He recorded two blocks and two steals in his opening stint. 

Springer and the Sixers played zone defense for much of the first half. They’ve unsurprisingly appeared to grow a bit more comfortable with zone as summer league has progressed. The Sixers still made some mistakes like leaving shooters open for corner three-pointers, but they mostly seemed to understand positional responsibilities and how to handle different situations on the fly. 

When the Sixers turned back to zone in the third quarter, Springer had the highlight of the day. He punished a floated pass and stormed ahead for a slam. 

Full-court pressure has featured at times, too. Javonte Smart (13 points, four assists) got a sneaky steal in the backcourt late in the second quarter, then set Terquavion Smith up for a three. In his first year as Sixers head coach, we presume Nick Nurse will want to mold an adaptable, versatile, attacking team. The summer Sixers have done a solid job of embracing that style.

Rough shooting game for rookie guards 

The Clippers also varied their defense often. They used zone, blitzed ball screens, and applied full-court pressure.

That meant the Sixers needed to make quick decisions and force Los Angeles to scramble. Smith was good in that area, playing unselfishly and finding release valves when pressed. He had five assists and just one turnover, though Smith was quiet as a scorer with seven points on 2-for-9 shooting. 

Fellow undrafted rookie Ricky Council IV also had a subpar shooting day. Council did make 6 of 8 free throws, but he went 2 for 9 from the floor. In all likelihood, Council will need to shoot through some lean performances this season in the G League as he reworks his form.

Council swished a three from the wing with 52.9 seconds left to cut the Clippers’ lead to 94-90, but the Sixers couldn’t overtake L.A. 

A lack of second-half steam 

Filip Petrusev and Azuolas Tubelis each sat out a second consecutive game. 

Greg Brown III started again and had 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Makur Maker (six points, six rebounds) backed up Brown and was one of four men to come off the Sixers’ bench.

While the Sixers built a 21-point advantage in the third quarter, they ran out of gas. On the second game of a summer league back-to-back, it wasn’t shocking that the team lost a bit of juice and jumpers began to thud off the front rim. Meanwhile, No. 30 overall pick Kobe Brown was dominant all game long for the Clippers, notching 35 points on 13-for-19 shooting, eight rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks. 

The Sixers will have a final chance at a summer league victory on Sunday. They'll play the Pelicans at 3:30 p.m. ET.

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