After wrapping up a week-long training camp at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, the Philadelphia 76ers put their hard offseason work to the test in the first of four preseason matchups on Monday night.
For their first matchup of the preseason, the Sixers paid a visit to the Barclays Center to face their Atlantic Division rival, the Brooklyn Nets.
Despite being shorthanded from the jump, the Sixers' starting unit got off to a stellar start. While they lost track of a big lead in the second half, the reserves and roster bubble prospects managed to once again expand Philly's lead, helping the Sixers secure a dominant 127-108 win over the Nets.
Here are a few observations from the matchup.
Embiid, Harden, and Tucker Take the Night Off
Before Monday night's game, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers hinted that several starters would get the night off. You could easily predict that Joel Embiid and James Harden would be among those who will rest, as the two All-Stars don't have much to prove in the preseason.
As expected, Harden and Embiid got the night off. Joining the two stars was the seasoned veteran PJ Tucker. The fact that Tucker got the night off was disappointing, considering Monday would've served as his first game in a Sixers uniform.
However, Tucker's absence wasn't surprising. The veteran forward is 37 years old and is coming off an Eastern Conference Finals run with the Miami Heat just one year after making a championship run with the Milwaukee Bucks.
At this point, Tucker has plenty of miles on him, and it's not worth it for the Sixers to trot him out on the court to see him play without two of the team's key starters in the preseason.
Paul Reed Starts Over Montrezl Harrell
Paul Reed getting the start over Montrezl Harrell raised some eyebrows. As Harrell was the consensus favorite to win the backup center position over Reed the moment he signed with the Sixers, seeing Reed get the nod over the former Sixth Man of the Year caused some to question whether Reed's beating out Harrell for the spot to back Embiid up or not.
Doc Rivers' short history as Philadelphia's head coach indicates that's unlikely the case. Typically, Rivers likes to keep the backup center in the same role with or without Joel Embiid in the lineup. In the past, with Dwight Howard and Andre Drummond on the roster, Rivers would roll with the third-string center in the starting lineup, keeping the bench the same.
Montrezl Harrell likely won't see many starting opportunities for the Sixers in 2022-2023. Back when the veteran center played for Rivers on the Los Angeles Clippers, Harrell started just ten games over the span of three seasons.
Reed's start in Brooklyn was a good opportunity to remind Rivers he is reliable and should be called upon when needed without hesitance, but it doesn't necessarily indicate the third-year hybrid center is currently winning the primary minutes behind Embiid.
Tyrese Maxey Remains Fearless From Three
Nobody actually believed Tyrese Maxey's second-year emergence — especially as a shooter from beyond the arc — was nothing more than a fluke last season. Just in case you did, Maxey looked to silence any critics during his opening minutes on the floor on Monday.
Maxey's first two baskets were threes that he shot without any hesitance. After checking out from his first shift, Maxey finished with 14 points after draining 80 percent of his shots and knocking down all but one of his three threes.
In a game that featured All-Stars such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons, Maxey was the best player on the floor during the first half. While Durant, Irving, and the Nets woke up after a rather uninspiring start and challenged Maxey's dominance, the third-year guard looks even more improved after a stellar second season in the NBA. He finished his 2022 preseason debut with 20 points in 13 minutes.
Matisse Thybulle’s Offensive Showing
A burning topic of the Sixers’ offseason has been the offensive development of Matisse Thybulle. At this point, the entire NBA knows that Thybulle is impressive on the defensive side of the ball, but his offensive development through three years hasn’t earned him that same respect.
Thybulle worked hard on his offense this offseason, and his teammates seemed genuinely excited for him after seeing the development first-hand at training camp this offseason.
Monday’s game offered Thybulle an opportunity to show everybody else what they’ve been missing, but he would probably like that offensive performance back. While Thybulle was less hesitant about letting threes fly on Monday, he drained just one of his three shots from deep. Those three points would be his only offensive contribution in 19 minutes on the floor.
Once again, Thybulle had a stellar defensive outing as he collected three steals and one rebound but going 25 percent from the field while turning the ball over twice isn’t an inspiring performance on the offensive end.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.