The summer league Sixers are unbeaten no longer.
They fell to their first defeat Saturday night, a 100-80 loss to the Celtics.
Tyrese Maxey left summer league to host a youth basketball camp in his hometown of Garland, Texas, after totaling 52 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists over the Sixers’ first two games. Without their best player, the Sixers turned in by far their worst performance.
The 2-1 Sixers will be back in action Sunday night to play the Timberwolves. Here are three observations on their loss to Boston:
A new point guard rotation
Frank Mason III, who’d been sidelined by a groin strain, took Maxey’s place in the starting lineup. He scored nine points in 23 minutes.
Though Mason’s forte at the G League level has been scoring, he didn’t chuck up shots the way other players might have been tempted to in their first appearance of summer league. The oldest player on the Sixers’ roster in Las Vegas at 27 years old, Mason looked the part, deferring to younger prospects early on before shifting to attack mode.
Daishen Nix received extended backup point guard time in Maxey’s absence. He was a mixed bag in the first quarter, committing a turnover late in the shot clock but following that up with two good trips, dropping off a nice pass to Braxton Key and converting a driving layup. The 19-year-old is an intriguing player. We imagine he’ll again spend all or most of next season in the G League after playing last year for G League Ignite.
“Daishen’s a really young point guard," Sixers assistant and summer league head coach Brian Adams said via Zoom. “Obviously he played on the Ignite team, so he has a lot of potential. He’s shown some real flashes of why he was one of those few that were targeted to be a part of that first Ignite team. He’s got a real good feel for passing and he’s got good size at the point guard position. For us, it’s about him taking care of the ball a little more, being a little more aggressive, and we’ve got to continue to build him on the defensive end.”
Isaiah Joe (15 points, four assists, four turnovers) continued to handle the ball well more than he did last season. He's a work in progress in that area, but this experience should serve him well. Putting up three-point shots is never an issue for Joe, who went 5 for 13 from long range.
Jaden Springer (six points on 3-for-11 shooting) mostly worked off the ball but had a couple strong second-quarter moments as a driver, Euro stepping his way to a basket and swooping in for a reverse layup after a decisive burst to the rim.
As the Sixers knew when they drafted him, Springer is a developmental player. In all likelihood, he’ll do a lot of learning as a rookie in practices and from the bench.
Tale of two ends for Petrušev
Filip Petrušev’s Adriatic League success as a scorer hasn’t carried over to Las Vegas.
He had a difficult offensive evening, failing to finish a handful of looks near the hoop and shooting 1 for 7 from the floor. Whether it’s the challenges that come with facing NBA athletes, the fast pace of the game, nerves or some other factor, Petrušev hasn’t been very productive.
The second-round pick has showcased decent defensive instincts and fundamentals, though. Petrušev denied a Bruno Fernando dunk attempt in the second quarter.
Later in the period, he stood his ground to draw a charge on Fernando. Petrušev has competed hard defensively despite likely not meeting his expectations on the other side of the floor. That’s an approach he’ll need in order to earn NBA minutes one day.
It’s an obvious observation, but the Sixers seemed aimless without Maxey running the show. Boston’s strong summer league roster, highlighted by double-figure scorers Carsen Edwards, Aaron Nesmith and Romeo Langford, had a lot to do with the blowout, too.
“Tyrese is a big part of this team but just like any NBA game, sometimes you’ve got to play without great players and you’ve got to learn how to use what you have," Joe said. “Today was a test of that. So I think we’ve just got to keep getting better with what we’ve got. We have the pieces, we have the coaching staff, we have the layout. We’ve just got to put it together.”
Even if he wasn’t flawless as a facilitator, Maxey made his teammates better in his two outings. If that quality is evident when the NBA season begins, it would be an excellent development for the Sixers.
Paul Reed kept gobbling up rebounds, accumulating a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards, but his efforts weren’t nearly enough to overcome Maxey's absence and keep the Sixers perfect.
As is characteristic of Reed, he was still drenched in sweat and sprinting around the court after the game was out of hand.
“Overall, I think Paul’s been great. … He cares so much," Adams said. “I think he’ll find his way. He’s shown signs that he will, for sure.”