While the drama continues with their All-Star point guard off the court, the Sixers may have a star in the making playing point guard right now.
Unfortunately, Tyrese Maxey’s brilliance wasn’t enough as they dropped their third straight, 115-109, to the Toronto Raptors Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Tobias Harris and Seth Curry both returned to the lineup. Joel Embiid, Matisse Thybulle and Isaiah Joe remain in the league’s health and safety protocols. Ben Simmons remains out for personal remains. And now his agent Rich Paul has officially weighed in on the situation.
The Sixers begin a six-game road trip in Indiana on Saturday against the Pacers.
Here are a few observations from the game tonight.
- Well, Harris certainly didn’t ease into things. On his first touch, Harris got the ball on a dribble handoff from Andre Drummond and made a strong drive to his right for a basket. Welcome back, Tobias. Really, Harris’ gravity alone helped the offense a ton. He also did an excellent job guarding OG Anunoby.
- Fred VanVleet is such an impactful player. He was really the only player on Toronto that going offensively, scoring 15 points and dishing out four assists. Tyrese Maxey actually played solid defense, but VanVleet made difficult shots.
- Really impressive run as the bench unit started trickling in. Tyrese Maxey had a few strong drives to the basket, finishing and finding shooters. After a tough night against the Bucks, it was good to see Furkan Korkmaz his a pair of early threes. The ball was moving against a team that plays tough defense.
- What a run for Paul Reed, who came in as the backup five and made an immediate impact. He had three steals and a block in first four minutes of action. The Raptors feature a plethora of long and athletic players. Bball Paul helped combat that.
- Harris already up to six assists. He’s almost played a defacto point guard role. As a team, the Sixers are up to 12 assists on 15 made baskets. Strong ball movement has been a big reason for the Sixers’ early success. Harris’ presence didn’t change that.
- What an outstanding end to an outstanding half from Maxey and Harris. Maxey buried a three and finished a strong drive. Harris added a couple more baskets. Maxey had 14 points and three assists. Harris had 10 points, seven assists and four rebounds. The only blemish for Harris: four turnovers. That’s likely a result of rust. Sixers took a 57-52 lead into the locker room.
- The Raptors started the second half with full-court pressure. It seemed to throw the Sixers off a bit. After a couple strong defensive possessions of their own, the Sixers settled in. Drummond had a pair of excellent blocks at the rim and Seth Curry started to get going.
- Offensive rebounds are still a sore spot for the Sixers. Toronto is up 10 for the game already.
- The Raptors went zone and that also threw the Sixers off. Give Nick Nurse credit — the Sixers seemed like the more talented team Thursday, but his mix of defensive coverages and his team’s grit overcame that. The Sixers have been in control for most of the game, but find themselves down 78-73 late in the third.
- Just a bad quarter from the Sixers, as they were outscore 29-21. They looked like they’d never seen a zone before and just got flat outworked. They’re still within in striking distance, trailing 81-78 thanks to a late Georges Niang three.
- The Sixers’ offense looks putrid. Again, the Raptors just have way more juice. This is unlike the team we watched scratch and claw against two playoff teams earlier this week. The Raptors opened up a double-digit lead, 90-80, early in the fourth. Chris Boucher continues to be a Sixers killer in his young career.
- A nice spurt here from Shake Milton, who scored seven straight for the Sixers. It’s now a 94-91 deficit as the Sixers have stepped up their defense a bit. Rivers also opted to go small with Niang and Harris playing the four and five alongside Maxey, Milton and Korkmaz.
- Maxey was outstanding down the stretch, but as a team, the Sixers continued to be outworked and made sloppy plays on both ends. Costly turnovers, offensive rebounds and poor rotations on defense.
- Maxey is trying to will this team to a win. A pair of baskets — including an and-one — tied the game at 107. He’s up to 33 points. A Drummond put-back and now the Sixers take the lead 109-107 with under two minutes left.
- Wow, what an unbelievable block at the rim by Drummond on Precious Achiuwa. It was ruled a foul on the floor, but was successfully challenged by Rivers and forced a jump ball. Unfortunately, the Raptors won the tip and Gary Trent Jr. buried a corner three to put the Raptors back in front, 110-109.
- Empty possession for the Sixers as the ball ends up in Drummond’s hands at the end of the shot clock. VanVleet nailed a corner three on the other end and that might do it. It’s 113-109 Toronto with 23.9 second left.
- The Sixers couldn’t find a way to pull this one out. Too many mistakes down the stretch. Maxey finished with 33 points, his second straight 30-point performance. Harris had 19 pointS, but on just 7-of-18 shooting.