Sixers, Cavs preseason preview: What you need to know

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LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 27: Cleveland Cavaliers Guard Darius Garland (10) makes a pass during a NBA game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Clippers on October 27, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia 76ers are heading to Cleveland to play the Cavaliers for the second time this preseason, this time at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. The previous game saw the Sixers take a 113-112 win at home, sealed by a late bucket by newcomer Montrezl Harrell.

Leading the Sixers’ last game was third-year guard and potential future All-Star Tyrese Maxey, who led all scorers with 21 points. After Maxey, four Sixers scored in double digits: Embiid, Melton, Milton, and Harrell. We also got to see a preview of the Cavaliers’ new backcourt.

First-time All-Star Darius Garland and newcomer Donovan Mitchell combined for 28 points. D-Mitch alone had 16 points (in only 19 minutes). While the Sixers won last game, Philadelphia will be without Joel Embiid this game. That being said, here are the three things to watch this game.

The Big Men

With Joel Embiid out, the Sixers will get another look at their young players behind Embiid. Paul Reed and Charles Bassey have been fighting for playing time since last season, and these preseason games give them each a good chance to show why their spot should be more secured here in Philadelphia.

Reed is coming into his third season with the Sixers, and after his GLeague MVP and solid play during last season’s playoffs, the expectations are higher for Reed than ever before. For Bassey, the bar is lower.

Bassey was the 53rd overall pick last year, and while he has been good in the games he’s played, he doesn’t hold the same weight that Reed does. In the Sixers’ first preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets, Joel Embiid sat as well, paving the way for Paul Reed to get the start.

Doc may decide to go that route again or decide to give Bassey the start to see if he can procure himself a roster spot for the start of the season. No matter who starts, both will play a decent amount of minutes, barring injuries or foul trouble.

The Looming Consolidation

The Sixers had three players going into the last game who were all fighting for one roster spot: Isaiah Joe, Charles Bassey, and Trevelin Queen. After Queen’s release by the team, it appeared to be down to either Joe or Bassey.

Both Isaiah Joe and Charles Bassey got a decent amount of playing time in the Sixers’ first preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets. Joe, the three-point specialist, played 17 minutes in the win, scoring nine points. All of his points were exclusively from beyond the arc as well, shooting 3/6. Bassey was a great rebounded in his 14 minutes played (four points, nine rebounds).

However, neither Joe nor Bassey played at all in the team’s previous win against the Cavaliers, something that was shocking for a team trying to see what they had out of their lesser-known players. Look for Joe and Bassey to get significant playing time as the Sixers try to figure out what to do with their roster.

The Beard and The Franchise

If both Harden and Maxey play, then the Sixers will get a look at what life would look like when Joel has to miss games. Maxey has been on another level this preseason, putting up 20+ points in both preseason games while never playing more than 15 minutes.

Harden, on the other hand, didn’t play in the first game and had a slow start in his Cavs appearance. If Harden can get started early and quickly, then the Sixers may just have one of the best backcourts in the league, along with the best center in the league.

Hopefully, James Harden will be able to play with more freedom as well, showing off his athleticism and health.