The Philadelphia 76ers didn’t anticipate having their entire roster on the court for Monday’s preseason matchup against the Brooklyn Nets. Although the home team trotted out their star trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons, the Sixers did the opposite.
Joel Embiid and James Harden got a rest night and remained on the bench in street clothes. Philadelphia’s top free agency acquisition PJ Tucker was in the same boat. With those three projected starters out of the mix for the night, the 76ers rolled with a starting five of Paul Reed, Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, De’Anthony Melton, and Tyrese Maxey.
Going into the preseason matchup, Tobias Harris sent a message to his teammates, claiming that they could send a message to their Atlantic Division rivals and the rest of the league in early October with a statement performance, whether it’s meaningless to the standings or not.
Philadelphia’s third-year guard Tyrese Maxey really took that pep talk to heart.
“[I was] Just trying to help us win and try to push the pace and set the tone,” said Maxey after the game, according to Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire. “Tobias (Harris) said something about how this game will set the tone for the year, and I was with him on that. We tried to go out there and send a message.”
Maxey indeed sent a message. Coming off of an impressive sophomore effort in the NBA after being in and out of the rotation during his rookie season, Maxey was on a mission to prove that last year was not a fluke.
Although Maxey appeared on the floor for just 13 minutes on Monday, he significantly impacted the game. Getting up eight shots from the field, Maxey knocked down all but two of his attempts. He was aggressive off the rip from three as he knocked down two deep shots within the first few minutes of the matchup.
From the free throw line, Maxey was perfect as he hit on all six of his shots. With two shifts in the first half, Maxey went into halftime with a game-high of 20 points. The Sixers clearly saw enough as the third-year guard took the rest of the night off.
No Embiid or Harden? No problem for Maxey and the Sixers. While it was just a preseason battle in Brooklyn on Monday, the 76ers defeated the Nets 127-108. Maxey, Harris, and the rest of the temporary starting lineup did a solid job setting the tone early for the reserves, who closed it out.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.