The Philadelphia 76ers made a pit stop in New York before finally returning home after spending a week in Charleston, South Carolina, for training camp.
The Sixers did a solid job of taking care of business in their first preseason battle without several key players on the floor. After a dominant first-quarter showing, the Sixers picked up a 20-point lead over the Nets.
Brooklyn battled back and made it a competitive game before halftime, but the Sixers’ reserves managed to take the Nets out with a 127-108 victory. After getting Tuesday off from practice and games, the Sixers are set to return to the court on Wednesday night to host the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Here are a few key players to keep an eye on during Wednesday night’s matchup.
The big question going into Wednesday’s game against Cleveland is will James Harden play or not? He’s not battling an injury and was a full participant throughout training camp. Considering he’s a ten-time All-Star, preseason is for Harden to get back into game shape rather than fighting for a spot in the rotation.
If Harden plays, it will be interesting to see him in his first full action since he focused a lot on his conditioning this offseason. Last year, Harden’s hamstring issues caused him to look like he was missing a step with his explosiveness.
Perhaps, Harden and the Sixers will give fans a sneak peek into what’s to come this year against an improved Cleveland Cavaliers backcourt on Wednesday.
Monday night’s matchup against Brooklyn featured two key debuts as De’Anthony Melton and Montrezl Harrell took the court for the Sixers for the first time. On Wednesday, Tucker could make it another as he’s healthy and likely available to play against Cleveland.
Similar to Harden, Tucker doesn’t have much to prove to the Sixers in the team’s second preseason game. He’s a seasoned veteran and an NBA champion that picked up a notable three-year contract in the opening minutes of free agency a few months back.
Considering he was Philadelphia’s top free agency acquisition, everybody wants to see the Sixers’ new enforcer in action. Since Philly has four of their five starters returning from last season, Tucker is expected to be the only new face in the starting lineup. Wednesday could offer fans the first look at the slightly tweaked lineup if Harden, Tucker, and Joel Embiid play along with Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris, who played on Monday.
Aside from Tyrese Maxey, who was the best player on the floor on Monday night, Furkan Korkmaz had the most impressive showing for the 76ers. Coming off of a year where he shot below 30 percent from beyond the arc and nearly played himself out of the rotation, Korkmaz might’ve given the Sixers buyer’s remorse after they agreed to a three-year deal with him last summer.
The Turkish sharpshooter is battling back with a chip on his shoulder as he’s on a mission to show his front office and coaching staff that they need to utilize him in the rotation this season.
In Brooklyn, Korkmaz took the floor for 18 minutes. During that time, he drained 50 percent of his shots from the floor and beyond the arc, totaling 15 points. He also had four assists, two rebounds, and one steal on defense.
The Sixers have witnessed Korkmaz have explosive performances over the years, especially early last season. Unfortunately, the explosive production doesn’t come around too often. Korkmaz needs to show consistency to win his spot in the rotation back this year. Wednesday night offers another opportunity to showcase his ability to bounce back.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.