Key takeaways from 76ers preseason opener
Last night the 76ers kicked off their return to play with a 108-99 preseason victory over the Boston Celtics. As expected the game started off with some pretty rusty basketball. With new players and coaching staff, this was to be expected. Luckily for the Sixers, they were able to knock off the rust later in the game and give us a preview of what we could expect this season. Here are my key takeaways from last night.
Shake Milton 6th Man of the Year?
The star of last night’s victory was without a doubt Shake Milton. Throughout training camp, Doc Rivers praised Shake Milton and encouraged him to “be himself” and “play free”. Milton looked like he did when he faced off against Rivers’ Clippers last season.
Shake led the team with 19 points on 57% shooting in only 23 minutes. Milton’s shot off the dribble looked fantastic seeming like he could pull up from anywhere, at any time. He absolutely dominated the third quarter scoring 15 of his 19 points (6-9 from the floor) and hitting three 3-pointers. Hopefully, this play can continue when the regular season kicks off next week. I’m already clamoring for him to be a 6th Man of the Year candidate.
Perfect debut for Tyrese Maxey
Kentucky players are always so electric and Maxey doesn’t look to be any different. Playing in just 12 minutes Maxey had 8 points and 3 assists. His on-ball offense didn’t look like it fell off from college. Ben Simmons commented after the game that once Maxey got his nerves under control, you saw what he was capable of on the basketball court. One of the biggest highlights from yesterday was his beautiful euro step to the basket.
Pick and rolls made up all of Tyrese’s scoring possessions. Three of the four were with Tony Bradley. His explosiveness and ability to work to the basket in a variety of ways will only continue to grow but tonight was a perfect debut for the rookie.
Tobias Harris continues to be underrated
Harris is often a heavy receiver of criticism for his play often due to his large payday. Even on nights he performed well many are often quick to judge. Harris finished the night with 16 points and 9 boards shooting 7/11 from the field. With some of the reactions from Twitter, you would’ve thought he played far worse than that. Tobias has always been one to sneakily put up these productive stat lines and tonight was no exception. Doc Rivers should continue to be able to fully utilize Harris this season like he did in LA two seasons ago.
Perimeter shooting woes
This can be likely chalked up to the lack of playing experience but the starting lineup for Philadelphia finished shooting 3/13 from deep with Seth Curry, Danny Green, and Tobias Harris each only making one three. Hopefully, as time goes on and this group gains some chemistry these issues will go away. Even with the poor perimeter shooting in the first half, it’s worth noting that even the threat of a perimeter shooter seemed to open up the floor a bit for Joel Embiid, who dominated the Celtics in the first half.
Next Up: The Sixers will travel to Indiana to play the Pacers in their last preseason game on Friday, December 18th.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports