Looking to continue their undefeated preseason run, the Philadelphia 76ers welcomed the Cleveland Cavaliers inside Wells Fargo Arena Wednesday evening. They squeaked out a 113-112 victory and moved to 2-0 this preseason. Unlike Monday’s preseason opener, the Sixers were equipped with their full rotation, led by the 2022-23 debuts of Joel Embiid, James Harden and P.J. Tucker.
The starting unit only played the first half, but Tyrese Maxey once again cooked, scoring 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting. Tobias Harris filled up the statsheet during his 17 minutes, with nine points (4-of-5 shooting), three rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block. Montrezl Harrell scored 13 points in 16 minutes. It’s time to talk Bell Ringer. Let’s get to it.
Tyrese Maxey: 21 points, two assists, one rebound, one steal
After delighting to the tune of 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting in Monday’s 127-108 rout of the Brooklyn Nets, the third-year speedster maintained his torrid shooting. He knocked down all three of his long balls, hit a deep two, lofted in a floater and, of course, chipped in some other nifty interior scores.
He’s been quite aggressive in his return to NBA action, hunting shots whenever they’re available and doing so in an array of ways. Through 29 minutes of preseason play, he’s scored 41 points (15-of-19 shooting) on 92.8 percent true shooting. He’s certainly been Philadelphia’s preseason MVP thus far, however prestigious and relevant you deem that honor. Most importantly, he’s been good and fun.
Tobias Harris: Nine points, three rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block
Harris righted the ship with nine points on five shots following a 3-of-7 showing Monday. Namely, he drilled a corner three and buried a jumper on a mismatch against Darius Garland, two shots that figure to factor prominently into his regular-season diet. He also executed a heady weak-side rotation for a strip inside, an area he struggled with Monday.
Both of his made triples this preseason have come on different first-quarter after-timeout plays. Presumably, helping him harbor some rhythm on these instances is a priority from the team. Sidenote: Tucker notched a pair of screen assists on plays like the one below, a facet of his game that should benefit many of the Sixers’ shooters.
De’Anthony Melton: 11 points, four rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block
With the Sixers no longer missing three starters, Melton returned to the bench Wednesday and his offensive role was a little more straightforward. While he’s yet to quite deliver from deep (1-of-3 Wednesday, 2-of-10 this preseason), he hit one in transition, buried a floater and tossed out a handful of impressive passes, including a pair of skip passes. Per usual, he tallied a steal and swat during his 15-minute stint. The steal showcased his length, closing speed and dexterity, leading to a pull-up three from Harden.
Montrezl Harrell: 13 points, three rebounds, two assists, one block
Despite playing behind Embiid and Paul Reed on the depth chart Wednesday, Harrell proved to be the hero for Philadelphia. He converted the go-ahead bucket on a drive with just under 30 seconds to go. Seven of his 13 points came over the final 5.5 minutes. With soft interior touch, an incessant motor and the quickness to frequent his spots, he was the Sixers’ go-to scorer down the stretch.
He also reveled in trash talk with the Cleveland bench, adding another entertaining wrinkle to a preseason contest. Paul Reed, who played fairly well in his own right, seems to hold the edge in the rotation currently, but it’s quite plausible there are many games where Harrell sees some minutes. His finishing and rebounding can be quite valuable, as was the case in Wednesday’s second half.
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