The Sixers’ opener next Wednesday against the Pelicans is creeping closer and closer.
Before that, they’ve got one final preseason game Friday night, a matchup with the Pistons. Here are the essentials:
- When: 7 p.m. ET
- Where: Little Caesars Arena
- Live stream: NBA League Pass
And here are three storylines to watch:
The true Maxey
Of the Sixers present at training camp, Tyrese Maxey might have attracted the largest chunk of attention.
Ben Simmons’ holdout, Maxey’s insertion into the first unit and head coach Doc Rivers’ comments about the difficulties of learning to be a point guard all contributed to a bright spotlight on the Kentucky product. After Thursday’s practice, Maxey admitted he didn’t like how he initially approached the game.
“I think the first couple days of training camp, I got away from being Tyrese Maxey,” he said. “And I told (skills development coach Spencer Rivers) after the first preseason game in Toronto, I’ll never let myself do that again. No matter what the situation is, I can’t get away from being Tyrese Maxey. That’s what helps the team win. As far as balancing, I feel like I’ve been doing a pretty decent job, and only getting better and better.”
Maxey, who missed the Sixers’ win Monday over the Nets with a left adductor injury, will play in Detroit.
Meanwhile, Simmons is listed as out (reconditioning), per a team official. The 25-year-old has gone through individual workouts but wasn't cleared to participate in full-team activities due to the NBA's COVID-19 protocols until Friday.
Another extended look at Drummond
Joel Embiid and Danny Green will rest against the Pistons. The Sixers evidently have no concerns about the two veterans’ preparedness for the regular season.
Embiid’s night off means Andre Drummond should play plenty in the city where he began his NBA career and made two All-Star Games. He’s been a high-impact preseason player so far, averaging 15.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.7 turnovers and 1.7 blocks. In 66 minutes, Drummond has taken 21 free throws and made 13.
Already, it’s been apparent that Drummond is more adept than Dwight Howard as a passer. Despite him not being an outside shooting threat, the Sixers’ offense has options when Drummond’s got the ball at the top of the key, provided the players around him cut actively.
Expect a healthy number of minutes for Paul Reed, too. Reed and Drummond each have 10 offensive rebounds this preseason, easily tied for first on the Sixers.
Not exactly the real thing yet
With Green sitting, 31-year-old Seth Curry will be the oldest Sixer available.
He knows there are few things less meaningful than whether the Sixers finish 3-1 or 2-2 in preseason play.
“It’s not real basketball, to be honest,” Curry said Wednesday. “Take more away from practices and stuff we do getting better every day on the practice floor. But preseason-wise, I wouldn’t take too much from it positively or negatively. Obviously some of the young guys who haven’t gotten as much run, them getting some confidence and figuring out who they’re going to be as players. But as a team, it’s not real basketball, so I don’t take much from it.”
A good, honest reminder as the Sixers wait to see what’s next with Simmons and ready themselves for games that show up in the standings.
Matisse Thybulle (right shoulder soreness), Tobias Harris (right knee soreness), Shake Milton (right ankle sprain) and Grant Riller (left knee meniscus tear) are out. Detroit will also be missing a slew of players, including No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham (right ankle sprain).