Seltzer's Notebook | Saric Shows Quality Perimeter Touch

Saric Focused on Stretching Floor

There’s a good chance that if Brett Brown had read the Sixers.com write-up of Wednesday night’s game at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, he might have a bone to pick.

We’ll readily admit it – we were caught up in the excitement stirred by Joel Embiid’s pre-season debut, and his subsequently captivating performance.

Why, though, would Brown take issue with our coverage of a development as encouraging as that?

If a copy editing audit were taken, it would probably reveal that we devoted a few more words to Embiid than Dario Saric. And as happy as Brown seemed to be with Embiid’s auspicious output, the fifth-year head coach also wanted to make sure Saric, the other member of the Sixers’ 2014 draft class, got some love, too.

Brown’s point was more than valid. Saric had a terrific night.

It was no coincidence that shortly after Saric subbed in with the Sixers trailing 17-7 in the early going, the team enjoyed a reversal of fortunes, closing the first quarter on a 23-5 surge. That the Croatian started his evening 1 for 4 from the field, while missing his first 2 3-point attempts, was no matter.

At the outset of the second period, Saric flicked the switch. He banged down a pair of triples in less than 60 seconds, then two more by the 8-minute mark. Through his rebounding and ability to create deflections, the 23-year old proved to be an active, spirited presence on the opposite end of the court, too.

Saric ultimately went for 15 points in the second quarter, missing just one of his six shots. He added 2 more points in the third, before tacking on his final 7 in the fourth frame. His evening ended with a game-high 26 points, a mark he reached only four times last year.

Saric’s accuracy from the perimeter, where he went 5 for 8, seemed to be especially pleasing to Brown.

“We said, ‘You have to make threes at a higher rate,’” Brown said Wednesday, discussing the off-season challenge the Sixers issued to the 2017 Rookie of the Year finalist.

The reason Brown and the Sixers want Saric to up his 3-point efficiency is so that he evolves into an even greater floor-spacing threat. The points of emphasis assigned to the forward were to get his legs into his shot more, and increase the arc of his shot by 6 to 8 inches.

“He’s got to stretch the floor,” said Brown. “Once you stretch the floor, your world and our world changes, and he’s done that. He’s really invested time doing that.”

Indeed Saric has, particularly during the time he spent with the Sixers over the summer, and in his EuroBasket stint with the Croatian national team as well.

“I’ve been focused to work on my 3-point shot,” Saric said following the Sixers’ 133-114 victory over Brooklyn. “Sometimes, you have good days, sometimes you have bad days, sometimes it’s about if you get open shots.”

Wednesday was very much a good day. Here’s a look at Saric’s shot chart. 

In 2016-2017, Saric hit 106 threes, third-most among all rookies. His shooting percentage from 3-point territory was 31.1.

For context, find below Saric’s shot chart from last season.

“I think I’ll be fine when I fix [my range] a little bit,” Saric said Wednesday. “Today, I think I [found] myself. I start 0-2, and after that, I say don’t be scared. Just keep up the shooting form, just continue to play. That’s what I did.”

The approach certainly worked.

Check back later for additional updates to today’s Notebook.

 

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