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Maxey, Joe close out preseason on high notes despite loss to Pistons

The Sixers dropped their preseason finale, but the 2020 draft picks look ready to be big factors this season.

Philadelphia 76ers v Detroit Pistons Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

Friday night’s game very much felt like the final one of the preseason with both teams missing a bunch of regulars.

The Pistons wound up beating the Sixers, 112-108, at Little Caesars Arena. It doesn’t matter, but the Sixers finish their preseason 2-2.

The Sixers were without Joel Embiid (rest), Ben Simmons (return to competition reconditioning), Tobias Harris (right knee soreness), Danny Green (rest), Shake Milton (right ankle sprain), Matisse Thybulle (right shoulder soreness), and Grant Riller (left knee surgery). No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham and Villanova product Saddiq Bey were among several Pistons that were out.

Andre Drummond had a bit of a revenge game in his old stomping grounds while Tyrese Maxey and Isaiah Joe looked very ready for the regular season.

Here are a few takeaways from the night.

Drummond’s homecoming

I don’t mean to speak ill of another fan base, but it seems like poor form for the Pistons fans in attendance to boo Drummond. It didn’t seem like there was any animosity when he left. The team traded him in a salary dump. I don’t get it.

Drummond seemed to thrive through the jeering as he turned in another solid preseason performance. He scored on a nice post move on his first touch. On his second basket, you saw the potential connection between Drummond and Maxey.

This could be a fun pick-and-roll pairing if/when they get minutes together.

The veteran big man did pick up a couple early fouls that landed him on the bench — and a third one late in the half — but it was really the first time we’ve seen Drummond get himself in foul trouble.

Another thing Drummond has shown during the preseason is a little bit of his skill. He’s not Embiid, but Drummond is OK handling the basketball for a big and does show strong passing instincts.

He’s been good for a couple of these backdoor passes every game.

With all due respect to Dwight Howard, these are things that simply aren’t a part of his game.

Drummond finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and a steal in 21 minutes.

Maxey looks ready

After missing Monday’s game with a left adductor strain, Maxey didn’t miss a beat in his return.

His ability to use ball screens and blow by defenders with his elite speed were on display.

Maxey played confident and free Friday night. He was 2 of 6 from three, but the attempts were encouraging. One make was off the dribble after a defender wasn’t quick enough to contest Maxey coming off a screen. Maxey also launched a transition three off the dribble to attempt to get a 2-for-1 at the end of the half. He missed the three, but was able to finish the half with a lightning fast drive to the rim just before the buzzer.

Maxey had 16 points, five rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes. Whether he’s the starting point guard or coming off the bench, Maxey should be a huge factor this season.

Not your average Joe

Isaiah Joe has to be in the rotation — no matter who is in the lineup.

The second-year guard continues to shoot the ball well and defend while showing off a more advanced game off the bounce.

For the second straight game he made an impressive floater while going to his left. Joe’s basketball IQ is really standing out as well. He typically always makes the right decision offensively and while he’s improved off the dribble, he still stays within himself and doesn’t try do too much.

He was 4 of 8 from three, including one he buried from freaking Ann Arbor in the third quarter. He finishes the preseason 16 of 27 from beyond, a ludicrous 59.2 percent.

I like the little bit of chemistry Joe and Georges Niang showed. Both players make quick, smart decisions and have ridiculously quick triggers on their three-point shots.

Joe had 14 points, three assists and three rebounds.

Other notes

  • Former Sixer Jerami Grant is so good. He finished second in Most Improved Player voting last season as his offensive game continues to progress. He was the best player on the floor for most of the night, finishing with a game-high 24 points.
  • We haven’t seen much of rookie Charles Bassey, but he had a solid stint late in the game. On one sequence, he buried a corner three and then came away with an impressive block on the other end. Expect Bassey to spend a lot of time in Delaware, but the second-rounder is intriguing.

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