It may only be preseason, but the Sixers are back and the vibes are good. With two wins under their belt so far and plenty of promising play from the team’s top talent and new additions, our first look at the 2022-23 Sixers has been encouraging.
After four rest days, they’re back in action on Monday with a rematch against the Cavaliers, following Wednesday’s 113-112 win.
Tyrese Maxey has been the standout star of the Sixers’ preseason so far. Through two games, he’s already tallied 41 total points on near perfect 15-of-19 shooting in just 29 minutes, all while shooting lights out off the dribble.
You always take a small preseason sample with a pinch of salt, but Maxey couldn’t have done much more in the last two games. Based on all we know about the young star, from his rapid growth already last season to his relentless work ethic that should have helped him improve yet again this offseason, he absolutely looks primed to make another leap in 2022-23.
How Maxey continues to impress will be one of the highlights of the Sixers’ games all year long, and that includes the preseason. With Evan Mobley currently day to day for the Cavs with a sprained ankle, it’s the backcourt battle between Maxey, James Harden and De’Anthony Melton vs. Darius Garland and his new star running mate Donovan Mitchell that’s the main matchup to follow during this week’s games.
Mitchell, in his limited minutes, turned in a speedy scoring display on Wednesday, racking up a team-high 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting including three triples. Melton has already been flashing his high-level defensive skills, from his lateral quickness covering drives to his agility and length when hanging to his assignments around screens. How he competes against Cleveland’s lead guards will be interesting to focus on if they match up much on Monday.
P.J. Tucker and Montrezl Harrell have been showing fans that they’re strong fits in Philly, too. As they took to the floor against the Cavs on Wednesday, Tucker was scoreless but showed off his valuable physicality, highlighted by a sequence of two straight offensive rebounds. Meanwhile, Harrell played hard all game, showcasing his quality finishing, post-up strength, and dribble hand-off play with 13 points in 16 minutes, and even came up with a huge bucket to close the game.
We’ve already seen some good examples of how the Sixers can click with their top five. It’s clearly just the beginning of a new year, but Harden looking more spry attacking off the dribble with the burst to get deep into the paint and beat opponents downhill was an encouraging start. When he’s collapsing defenses, Joel Embiid has more room to operate, Tucker is attacking the glass and screening (or just spotting up efficiently in the corner), and Maxey is around to score by any means necessary, the starting unit can be a nightmare to stop.
Ideal Sixers possession here. Harden draws 2 defenders, leaving Embiid open. Garland rotates off Maxey and onto Embiid. Harden lofts a skip pass to Maxey and Tucker lights up the helping LeVert with a rugged pin-in screen.— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) October 6, 2022
This is the outline of how their offense can be elite. pic.twitter.com/wWgaeDS3pz
Along with getting a better idea of what the new members of the team have to offer, the play of the team’s stars, the new starting lineup chemistry, and improved bench play provides plenty of intrigue for the preseason.
Let’s see if the Sixers can keep things rolling along smoothly and pick up another win on the road in Cleveland.
Update, 12:26 p.m.: Joel Embiid did not make the trip to Cleveland and will not play Monday night. He is healthy and it’s part of the team’s plan, per Keith Pompey of The Inquirer.
When: 7:00 pm ET, Monday, October 10
Where: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Cleveland, OH
Watch: NBA TV
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic