The Philadelphia 76ers paid a visit to the Detroit Pistons on Friday to finally finish up the preseason schedule and they did so while being very shorthanded. The Sixers had Joel Embiid and Danny Green out to rest while Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, and Shake Milton all sat out of the meaningless game to nurse injuries.
The Sixers got off to a solid start, but they eventually faded in a 112-108 loss to the Pistons in the Motor City. Philadelphia did get solid performances out of Andre Drummond who finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, and three assists and Tyrese Maxey added 16 points and five rebounds filling in for Ben Simmons.
Isaiah Joe continued his strong preseason by going for 14 points off the bench and Paul Reed had 15 points and seven rebounds. Seth Curry did add seven in limited minutes.
Here are the three observations from the preseason finale:
It appears that the passing aspect of Drummond’s game has been very underrated. There were a few times where the backup big man was able to initiate some offense from the top of the key making quick, crisp passes to backdoor cutters either for layups or to set up the next play. There were also a few times where he was tasked to bringing the ball up the floor so that was interesting to see.
Obviously, Drummond will not be bringing the ball up the floor, but off the bench, he can be a bit of a hub on offense and be somebody others can play off of for the second unit. He can be a guy who can set the tone and give the Sixers another option as a skilled big man on offense.
Obviously, Maxey will use his speed at any moment to quickly burst to the basket when he has an opportunity to. In this one, he was mixing speeds in order to get easy baskets. He was able to use a hesitation off the dribble to create space in the paint and he also stepped back and was showing off that improved 3-point shot that he is continuing to work on. This was the perfect preseason finale performance for the young guard as he takes on more responsibility.
Considering what is going on with the Simmons situation, there is still going to be a lot of pressure on Maxey to have to step up and get the job done. This preseason offered a mixed bag as he is still going to have to learn how to balance being a scorer and a playmaker, but he has the work ethic to do so.
As Philadelphia continues to find more playmakers on the roster, the fact that Joe is beginning to step up and take on more responsibility in that respect is a good thing to see. There was one possession where he drew a double team and he then found Georges Niang for an open look as he is continuing to take steps in that area of his game. Again, it will be tough to keep him out of the rotation on opening night.
This was an impressive preseason for Joe as he was able to show that he has some qualities that will help the Sixers in the long run. The challenge now for him is to be able to do this in games that matter. Preseason basketball is not exactly real basketball as guys are not going at full speed and it is really just a tune-up for the real games. Joe will now have to keep this up for his future.