Sixers

Outside of a relentless rookie, Sixers focused on rest and recovery

Sixers

The first-place Sixers practiced Monday. Sunday was supposed to be a day off, though Tyrese Maxey did not follow that directive. 

Maxey, who played a team-high 35 minutes and scored 22 points in the Sixers’ win over the Pistons, has built a reputation for having an insatiable work ethic. 

“He’s very coachable,” head coach Doc Rivers said. “He really is. He listens. There’s nobody that works more. If you saw the minutes that he has on the practice floor, he’s so far ahead of everyone else. It’s unbelievable. He puts a lot of time in with my son Spencer (Rivers, a Sixers skills development coach) and then some with (assistant coach Sam Cassell), as well. It’s just amazing. 

“Even yesterday when we had a black day, which means no one comes in, I know that he worked out because unfortunately, he’s working out with my son. And so I know that he did go in anyway, which is fine. We don’t care if you go in. But he was the only one. That’s just who he is. He works at it; he wants to be good. And he’s showing that.”

As for Monday’s practice, Rivers said Joel Embiid, Shake Milton and Matisse Thybulle did not participate. Embiid was listed as questionable on Monday night's injury report with a non-COVID illness. Thybulle (left hand soreness) and Furkan Korkmaz (right ankle sprain) won't play Tuesday against the Pacers. 

 

Instead of practices, the Sixers have almost exclusively used shootarounds to review X’s and O’s. The pandemic-affected schedule has been stuffed with games and the team’s approach has changed out of necessity. 

“This year, honestly, it’s pretty ridiculous when you look at the amount of games,” Tobias Harris said. “When you do get a practice time, it’s dedicated to rest. It’s more individual instruction, whereas a normal season, you have those two-day breaks. Those are frequent during the regular season. Now, if you get a two-day break … like yesterday, it felt like a vacation for me. I was like man, I get to chill out, not have to worry, get my mind ready for the game. 

“The schedule has been really compacted and that does affect practice time and what you’re able to do, but I don’t think (it would be) beneficial if today we came in here and were going live and full-throttle knowing our upcoming schedule. These are more like rest and chill days, and mental recovery days, really.”

The Sixers will have ample time to practice, recover, game plan and anything else they’d like soon enough. The team’s “magic number” to clinch the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed is at one after the Bucks' loss Monday night to the Spurs. 

There will be nearly a week in between the Sixers’ regular-season finale Sunday against Orlando and the first day of the NBA playoffs. They’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the drama of the NBA’s play-in tournament while waiting to learn their first-round opponent. 

Resting players who need it in the final few regular-season games would be nice, but it’s not a pressing concern. 

“We wouldn’t just do nothing,” Rivers said. “We would probably do some practicing or do something. Guys are rhythmic; that’s how they play basketball. But we’re going to have a week off regardless. We still have a week of practice. That’s off, if you know what I’m saying. There’s no games no matter what we do. So we have to just try to figure out how to use that time wisely.”