Sixers top Cavs as Tyrese Maxey continues preseason dominance

Brooklyn Nets forward RaiQuan Gray, center, attempts a layup during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

The Philadelphia 76ers faced off against Donovan Mitchell and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Sixers’ second preseason game. In a game that came down to the wire, there were many bright spots, from the continued dominance from Tyrese Maxey to the heroics of Montrezl Harrell, to a consistent role for Paul Reed.

On the backs of those players and their strong performances, the Sixers downed the Cavaliers 113-112.

The next leap is here for Tyrese Maxey

There were questions throughout the offseason — asked with hopeful intent — if, after an impressive step forward in year two, Maxey would be able to take yet another leap. Judging by the first two preseason games, the odds have only grown in favor of another breakout year in year three.

In their first game, against the Brooklyn Nets, Tyrese Maxey made his presence known early and emphatically. With 20 points in just 14 minutes, the young up-and-comer quickly became the talk of the game.

That trend continued tonight against the Cavs as Maxey scored an impressive 21 points in now 15 minutes. He displayed the same type of aggression as he did against the Nets and looked near-unstoppable on the court.

If there is room — alongside Joel Embiid and James Harden — for this new form of his during the regular — and ideally postseason as well — the sky could be the limit for both Tyrese Maxey and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Montrezl Harrell’s energy is contagious

Montrezl Harrell was brought to Philadelphia in hopes that his high motor would provide a positive impact on this Sixers team. Well, two games into the preseason, and it’s clear that all is going according to plan.

Harrel’s passion is evident, and he possesses an ability to infect his teammates with the same energy, teammates like Shake Milton, who, utilizing that same energy, put on a gritty display after disappointing in the opening game against the Brooklyn Nets.

Montrezl Harrell is a flawed player, that much is self-evident, but he still serves a very important role on this Sixers team, one that cannot, and should not, be overlooked.

Paul Reed will not be forgotten

Joel Embiid made his preseason debut tonight; however Paul Reed’s minutes did not suffer. Reed was allowed time as Joel Embiid’s true backup in the first half and continued to play alongside Montrezl Harrell in the second.

Like Harrell, Reed provides this Sixers team with an infusion of energy that is much needed, one that the team had very little of last season. It’s an important role for the two bench bigs but what’s unique to Reed is his added defensive versatility.

When the Sixers first signed Montrezl Harrell, there were many concerns that we based on the assumption — a fairly reasoned one at that — that Harrell would take over Reed’s role as Embiid’s backup and that the emerging big would be relegated to a deep bench role once again.

So far this preseason, that has been anything but the case which is nothing but relieving for those who understand that this team is better when Paul Reed has an extended role. In fact, one of the surprises this preseason has been the combination of Reed and Harrell on the floor together.

Isaiah Joe-Schmoe?

While Tyrese Maxey, Montrezl Harrell, and Paul Reed were given ample opportunity to shine for the Sixers, the same could not be said about third-year wing Isaiah Joe. After seeing his time drop from 17 minutes (Joe was a +17 in that time) to an inexplicable goose egg in game two.

What was the reason behind this decision? Is his spot secure? Is it already gone? One could speculate in a circle for an eternity, but what can be said is that it would be an odd decision to make as early as the second preseason game.

Is it perhaps a case instead of splitting some of the lower-end rotation players between the two games against Cleveland? Quite possibly. Alongside Joe, Charles Bassey, Trevelin Queen, and Michael Foster also did not play.

It’s disappointing not to see Isaiah Joe get a shot in game two. However, there’s still time for the Sixers to give him (and the other players who did not get a chance tonight) an opportunity this preseason.