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Joel Embiid makes preseason debut, Maxey, Melton shine in win vs. Hawks

There was obvious rust with Joel Embiid, but the backcourt of Tyrese Maxey and De’Anthony Melton shined in a win over the Hawks.

Atlanta Hawks v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Time for the real thing.

The Sixers wrapped up the preseason with a 120-106 win over the Atlanta Hawks Friday night. In his preseason debut, Joel Embiid put up 21 points on 3-of-12 shooting, five rebounds and one assist in 33 minutes of action.

Tyrese Maxey dished out 12 assists in his first game with Embiid this year, and put up 15 points to go along with it. De’Anthony Melton was the game’s high man, putting up 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting.

Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.

First Quarter

  • Even with Embiid’s return to the lineup, the Sixers’ emphasis early was to play fast paced and control the tempo as they have all preseason. The offense to start the game was Maxey and Embiid’s two-man action at the break and taking the first shot from there. Embiid was understandably rusty in the first, shooting 0-of-4 in his first 12 minutes of action.
  • They continued to swarm the perimeter as they have all preseason as well, generating five steals in the first, but their interior defense also looked understandably rusty. Six of the Hawks’ nine field goals in the first came in the paint as they took advantage of the Sixers rotating.
  • With that being said, Maxey blocked a Dejounte Murray layup, easily one of the most impressive plays he’s made on that end of the floor, even if it is the preseason. He also made this behind-the-back pass after one of his three steals in the quarter, though Philly trailed by one after the first.

Second Quarter

  • The good version of Kelly Oubre Jr. has been on display so far, but his first shift tonight showed what the bad side can look like. He shot 1-of-3 and turned it over once in seven minutes while Atlanta’s lead ballooned to double digits. Hopefully the Sixers won’t be running too many lineups where Oubre and Patrick Beverley are the primary scoring options.
  • Another Sixer who had a rough go of things early was Furkan Korkmaz. Korkmaz, in his first minutes of action this preseason, came up short on the only three he took in the first half. He cut front door for a layup, but that was blocked so hard by Jalen Johnson it was initially ruled a foul until it was reviewed and overturned.
  • Jaden Springer didn’t play much in the first half, only five minutes, but he continues to make the most of what he’s given. After deflecting a pass which lead to a steal, he knocked two triples from the wing. He’s now made seven of his eight three-point attempts this preseason. That was about the lone positive for Philly in the second as they went into the break down 12.

Third Quarter

  • The second half begun with a renewed focus to get Embiid going, and while that didn’t quite happen, it did open things up for guys in the corners. Melton caught fire in the third, scoring 14 of the team’s first 19 points of the period to tie the game. Melton finished shooting 6-of-10 from beyond the arc.
  • Tobias Harris also got into a rhythm after a rough start to the game. Most of his touches were isolations in the first half and he wasn’t able to do well freelancing, shooting 2-of-6 from the field. The third saw him take more of those role player duties, spotting up in the corner and cutting to the basket. He was 3-of-4 in the third.
  • With about three minutes left in the third, Nick Nurse subbed Paul Reed onto the floor with Embiid still in the game, giving us our first look at a double big lineup with the two. While the results weren’t great, they worked some decent possessions on offense. Embiid working around the perimeter gave Reed a chance to work his way into the dunker spot. He got two easy looks there tonight (although he made the lob from Maxey harder than it needed to be). Philly trailed by four heading into the fourth.

Fourth Quarter

  • Embiid never got it going on offense, he spent most of the second half getting to his comfort spots but his shots weren’t falling. In typical Embiid fashion, he got those points back at the free throw line. He finished 14-of-15 from the charity stripe.
  • The Sixers showed a tremendous amount of hustle and effort the final quarter of the final preseason game. A couple of threes from Maxey stopped the Hawks’ run and started one for Philly. Reed kept possessions alive on the offensive glass and Oubre had a much more controlled second half.
  • It’s worth noting that the only Exhibit-10/two-way that saw the floor tonight was Javonte Smart. This isn’t super surprising, as he’s looked like the most NBA-ready guy out of that group right now. Mo Bamba also did not see the floor tonight either.
  • That’ll do it for the preseason. The Sixers will open the regular season next Thursday night in Milwaukee. They’ll take on Giannis Antetekoumnpo, Damian Lillard and the Bucks at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT.

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