Four days in and we are halfway through the scrimmage schedule. Over the remaining three days, teams will do their best to find their feet and rhythm in preparation for the seeding games.
Let's start with Day 5. Here's a quick preview of the biggest storylines of each of the 10 teams taking the floor on Sunday:
All times IST
76ers vs Thunder - 9:30 PM (Sunday, Jul. 26th)
Philadelphia 76ers: Everything looked great for the 76ers in their first scrimmage game - a 90-83 win against the Grizzlies. All their key players played well in their respective roles in limited minutes - Ben Simmons finished with a 9-7-9 stat line in 23 minutes and hit a 3, Joel Embiid finished with 10 points and six rebounds in 13 minutes, Tobias Harris had an efficient 15 points (6-11 FGs) in 23 minutes while Al Horford played well as a member of the bench, that combined for 44 points.
More of the same against a more competitive team in the OKC Thunder will be a great tune-up for this healthy squad that will be looking to turn things up and have a deep playoff run.
🎥 @BenSimmons25 delivered.- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) July 25, 2020
9 PTS | 7 REB | 9 AST | 1-2 3PT pic.twitter.com/4vBIhC6Er3
Oklahoma City Thunder: These are just scrimmage games, so we can't read a lot into it but the Thunder certainly had a lot of positives from their 98-84 win against the Celtics. Although Andre Roberson made his comeback in that game, it's unknown what his role will be in the season restart, after missing 900+ days of basketball.
Their depth still looks thin but if their short rotation can find their rhythm through these scrimmages and seeding games, maybe that's not as much of a concern in the postseason.
"A lot of emotions" - @FlyDre21- OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) July 25, 2020
Hear from Andre Roberson after the game. pic.twitter.com/kj7sKaUKIC
Suns vs Celtics - 11 PM (Sunday, Jul. 26th)
Phoenix Suns: The season restart in Orlando is all about game reps for the young rebuilding squad in the Suns, whether that's scrimmages or seeding games. Their hopes of making the 2020 postseason are slim, but this stint could help them grow and develop under head coach Monty Williams. With nothing to lose, there's a possibility of an upset in every game they play. Coming off a win against the Jazz, they would like to repeat that.
"The edge and the competitive nature that was evident tonight is something that we have to hold onto."- Phoenix Suns (@Suns) July 24, 2020
- Coach pic.twitter.com/T08leiJlRS
Boston Celtics: Every game is much-needed game reps for the Celtics to help their key players re-ignit their on-court chemistry. With a relatively thin bench, the team needs all its rotation players to find their rhythm, but with Kemba Walker's availability still uncertain for this game, that still an issue.
Pacers vs Mavericks - 1:30 AM (Monday, Jul. 27th)
Indiana Pacers: Coming off a close 91-88 win against the Trail Blazers, the Pacers suffered a huge blow with the news of Domantas Sabonis' foot injury. If and when he is to return from the injury is yet to be determined, but that coupled with Victor Oladipo's uncertainty puts the Pacers in a quandary. They still have talented players, but in a top-heavy Eastern Conference, can they compete in the first round let alone moving past that?
Dallas Mavericks: Luka Doncic and the Mavericks looked in great shape in their first game against the Lakers, a 108-104 comeback win. Seth Curry scored 23 on 8-of-8 shooting, Doncic finished with 14-5-6 in 23 minutes, Porzingis looked good, and their bench led by Boban Majanovic tallied 52 points.
The seeding games will be crucial for the Mavs, who can still sneak into the top 4 of the Western Conference.
Seth Curry couldn't miss 🔥- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 24, 2020
He went 6/6 from three to start his first bubble scrimmage. pic.twitter.com/mwhMUxpHlL
Trail Blazers vs. Raptors - 3:30 AM (Monday, Jul. 27th)
Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers might have lost their first scrimmage but the biggest talking point coming out of that game was how good their frontcourt players Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins were, both of whom are returning from injuries. Now, with a healthy squad, the Trail Blazers could be the team to watch in these seeding games and there's no tune-up like the one against the defending champs.
"I feel in great shape and everything. I was just excited for the game, hard breathing, running up and down, just to see the flow of the game was as nice as you can get." - @bosnianbeast27- Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) July 24, 2020
And we, to you, in addition, feel, the same feelings, that you are, as well. 😍 pic.twitter.com/fkrJW2Ku5p
Toronto Raptors: The reigning champions were arguably the worst-hit team by injuries during the regular season and yet, they had the third-best record in the league. Now, in the Orlando bubble, everybody is healthy. So, what's the ceiling for this team? Only time will tell, but till then the champs come to each game to compete, no matter the opponent or circumstances.
Rockets vs Grizzlies - 5:30 AM (Monday, Jul. 27th)
Houston Rockets: The hiatus provided the Rockets much-needed time to recuperate. In their first game, parts of their team came to play while the others were still finding their footing - much like every team in the bubble. James Harden finished with 24 points and 10 assists in 25 minutes and Danuel House Jr. scored 18 on 7-of-11 shooting, while the likes of Russell Westbrook and Eric Gordon were still finding their shooting touch. The remaining couple of scrimmage games are critical for this team to find their rhythm, so, expect another up-and-down feel-out game against the Grizzlies.
🎥 @JHarden13 addressed the media after our first scrimmage game in Orlando. pic.twitter.com/YJLkmeaQOt- Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) July 25, 2020
Memphis Grizzlies: In their first game, experienced players in Jonas Valanciusnas (20 points, 8-13 FGs) and Kyle Anderson (14 points, 5-7 FGs) were the only ones to score efficiently. Meanwhile, the young superstar duo in Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. combined for 20 points on 7-of-24 shooting. That's fine, it's just one game and it was a scrimmage but the Grizzlies need to find their feet and do so quickly in order to win enough seeding games to hold onto the West's eighth spot.
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