(Editor’s Note: an earlier version of this article said tonight is an In-Season Tournament game. It is actually Tuesday’s game against Indiana that will be an In-Season Tournament contest.)
First off, best wishes to Kelly Oubre Jr. on a speedy recovery. Awful news to hear on a Saturday night for a guy who has gotten off to a tremendous start in a Sixers uniform.
Getting back to basketball, the Sixers are fresh off a victory in their opening NBA In-Season Tournament contest over Detroit on Friday night. They will continue East Group A play on Tuesday against the Indiana Pacers, but first, they get the measure of Indiana in a normal, regular season game. The Pacers have been playing good ball, overcoming Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 54 points to defeat Milwaukee on Thursday, and sitting 6-3 on the season overall.
Tyrese Haliburton has followed up his first All-Star appearance with averages of 23.6 points and 11.6 assists in the early going this season. The battle of the Tyrese’s will surely be one to watch, as the Sixers’ Maxey has also gotten off to an incandescent start with averages of 25.9, 5.3 rebounds, and 7.5 assists. On this trajectory, Mad Max will be joining Haliburton shortly with an All-Star nod under his belt. Maxey is already getting MVP Ladder recognition, wild for a 22-year-old as the no-doubt-about-it starting point guard for the first time.
The Sixers have been playing much faster under new head coach Nick Nurse, now 11th in the league in pace as of this writing. It has made for a fun viewing experience, watching guys grab and go or seeing Tyrese warp down the hardwood. Joel Embiid deserves credit for adapting his game to get up and down the floor quicker and still dominate at a high level. Indiana will be an interesting stylistic test for Philadelphia, though, as the Pacers are running as the second-fastest team. Washington is the only team playing faster, but playing poor basketball at both ends of the floor very quickly isn’t any great feat. Indiana, however, is currently eighth in the league in net rating (plus-4.5).
On this Military Appreciation Night at the Center, the feel-good Sixers will look to entertain the troops in a bid to move to 8-1 on the season and maintain pole position in the Eastern Conference. Win this one for Kelly.