The Sixers’ second preseason performance was much better than their first, as they comfortably dealt with the Raptors for a 125-113 win. The bench performed well, eight players scored in double figures as minutes/touches were widely distributed, and the team shot an encouraging amount of threes, finishing the game 18-of-37 from deep.
On Monday, the Sixers are facing the Nets in what will be a very shorthanded affair. Seth Curry (rest), Tobias Harris (ankle soreness), Shake Milton (sprained ankle, which he suffered during Sunday’s practice), Grant Riller (recovering from surgery for a torn meniscus in his left knee), Matisse Thybulle (shoulder soreness), and Ben Simmons (not with the team, obviously) are all listed as out.
For the Nets, Kyrie Irving (not with the team) and Devontae Cacok (groin soreness) are both out.
A lot of recent discussion surrounding the Nets has understandably focused on Irving, who continues to refuse to have the COVID-19 vaccine. Until/if he makes the (right) decision to be vaccinated, he won’t be able to play in Nets home games due to New York City’s vaccine regulations. However this is resolved, or whether the Nets simply make the best of it and only have Irving for home games, it’s a crazy situation for a top contender to be in. Especially if the playoffs roll around and they still find themselves missing one of their three stars for half their games.
Anyway, from a basketball standpoint, the depleted Sixers will just have to deal with the still formidable duo of James Harden and Kevin Durant on Monday night. This will also be a chance to get a look at some of the Nets’ new signings, as they brought in some valuable role players this offseason.
Patty Mills, fresh off leading Australia’s men’s basketball team to their first ever Olympic medal in Tokyo, is Brooklyn’s top addition of the summer. He’s shot 38.8 percent from three for his career and gives them another marksman who can dart around, shoot off movement, hit the occasional pull-up, and add some extra ball-handling to their already incredible offense. Paul Millsap provides yet another option in their deep, versatile frontcourt rotation. If the Nets want to downsize a little and have a touch more three-point shooting and agility at the 5, Millsap is another big that lets them do so. Jevon Carter can add some high-energy guard defense when necessary, and James Johnson gives the Nets yet another slightly more switchy 4/small-ball 5 that they can turn to when need be.
Beyond the fact that this is only a preseason game, the Sixers missing so many players means there’ll be even fewer notable takeaways. Nevertheless, the play of new arrivals Andre Drummond and Georges Niang will be one of the main things to keep an eye on. Drummond had another solid game in the second matchup against the Raptors with 10 points and 7 rebounds, while Niang showed off more of his quick-trigger shooting skillset with 16 points and 4-of-7 shooting from three.
As the Sixers are so short on ball-handling for this matchup without Milton and Curry, even more responsibility will be on the shoulders of Tyrese Maxey. In the second game against Toronto, Maxey tallied 14 points (6-of-9 shooting, including a step-back three) and 5 assists to only 1 turnover. He looked more comfortable running the team and did a great job leading the second unit, especially a lineup featuring Curry, Furkan Korkmaz, Niang and Drummond. Keep an eye out for similar units against the Nets, especially the new frontcourt duo of Niang and Drummond.
Philly’s bench was clicking far better against the Raptors last Thursday, so it will be interesting to see how they gel moving forward and how well Maxey adjusts to more playmaking duties. Hopefully for the Sixers, he can keep settling into his larger role, and continue the impressive development he showed over the last couple of months of his rookie season.
When: 8:00 pm ET, October 11, 2021
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, ESPN2
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic