Before the Sixers tipped off the 2021 NBA preseason, head coach Doc Rivers made it clear that there's a high chance starters miss games. As Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Danny Green, and Seth Curry all have plenty of experience in the regular season and the playoffs, Rivers doesn't see a need for those guys to play a ton of minutes during the meaningless four-game schedule that is preseason.
When the Sixers started their four-game run off on Monday in Toronto, the starting lineup missed Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris. Embiid got the night off as the Sixers wanted him to get some rest. On the other hand, Harris was ruled out for precautionary reasons as he was battling knee soreness.
On Thursday, both guys returned to the lineup. Considering Harris is headed into year 11 in the NBA, he doesn't need a ton of minutes in the preseason to get ready for the 2021-2022 regular season. However, Doc Rivers played the veteran forward slightly longer than expected on Thursday night.
"Tobias needed the extra minutes," Rivers explained following the game. "You can see that he was kind of trying to find his way and then late in the game, I thought he finally started catching his rhythm. That's why I kept him out there a little longer."
As players like Embiid and Green checked in for less than 20 minutes, Harris led all starters outside of Shake Milton in playing time with 24 minutes on the floor. During that time, he knocked down five of his nine shots from the field and collected 14 total points, four rebounds, and four assists.
"I felt good," Harris said after the game. "Just getting back out there with the guys. Obviously, in training camp, we're going against each other day in and day out. We played them a few days ago, so we made a lot of adjustments just from that game, especially on the defensive end of how we wanted to play and our style of basketball."
Thanks to Harris and the rest of the Sixers' starters, Philly went into halftime with a notable 71-55 lead over the Raptors. After picking up another eight minutes of playing time in the third quarter, Harris got the rest of the night off as the 76ers took care of business and picked up their first preseason win with a 125-113 victory.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.