Sixers takeaways: 3 positives from the start of the season

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Philadelphia 76ers head coach Nick Nurse reacts to a call during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

The Philadelphia 76ers lost their season opener to the Milwaukee Bucks in a down-to-the-wire game that ended 118-117. In a game that the Sixers trailed by double-digit points, they were able to stay in the game following a strong second half in which they outscored the Bucks 63 to 55. Despite the loss to a talented Milwaukee Bucks team, there were many bright spots to start the season.

Tyrese Maxey: Playmaker

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey stands on the court after hitting a 3-point shot against the Boston Celtics during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The Sixers were led by fourth-year guard Tyrese Maxey who had an outstanding game. He finished the game with a team-high 31 points on 10 for 22 shooting. In Maxey’s first game in a new role, he was able to lead the entire team in scoring and continuously find ways to be successful. However, just as valuable as his scoring was his playmaking.

Maxey led the Sixers in assists, dishing out 8 while never once turning the ball over. This is the next step for Tyrese to become a truly elite player as a point guard. With a lot of concern circulating about how the Sixers would handle the absence of assist leader James Harden, Maxey was incredible for Philadelphia and could feasibly play himself into both the All-Star Game and the Most Improved Player conversation this season.

Kelly Oubre Jr.’s HOT Start

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Kelly Oubre Jr. asses between Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bobby Portis during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Interest was low in Kelly Oubre Jr. around the league, despite coming off of a high-scoring season for the Charlotte Hornets last year. So low, in fact, that the Sixers were able to scoop Oubre Jr. up for the league minimum. Now, 29 other teams are sure to regret not picking up the athletic scoring forward.

Oubre led the bench for Philadelphia against the Bucks, scoring 27 points in 32 minutes, going 5/6 from three and 9/11 from the field. While the electric scorer is still finding his rhythm and building chemistry, his 76ers career is off to a great start. If Oubre Jr. continues to come off the bench, we could be looking at a potential Sixth Man of the Year candidate.

Aggressive Tobias Harris is Here

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris (12) gestures after making a 3-point shot during the second half of Game 4 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets Saturday, April 22, 2023, in New York. The 76ers won 96-88. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Tobias Harris deals with a ton of criticism from Sixers fans, more tied to his monstrous contract rather than his on-court play. Tobias has had his role expand and constantly contract during his tenure in Philadelphia. He’s been a second option, a third option, and a fourth option multiple times, thanks to the constantly changing roster. However, Tobias, last night, was finally free to play like a true third option.

The long-time Sixers forward dropped 20 points on a highly efficient 8/9 shooting night. This is a great sign for the Sixers’ season. For the team to make any noise come playoff time, Tobias needs to step up and be that high-efficiency scorer that Philadelphia has been waiting for him to become. His ability to create his own shot and play within his role is something that Philadelphia always needs.

Looking Forward

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Philadelphia 76ers head coach Nick Nurse reacts to a call during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

The Sixers were full of positives and negatives in the close loss. Turnovers, free throw shooting, and concentration were all points of struggle for Philadelphia at different points in the game. Yet, the Sixers still showed a level of resilience that is refreshing to see. While many don’t expect a lot from Philadelphia this year, it is clear that the Sixers themselves are not willing to give up and may be one of the strongest-willed teams in the league.

New Head Coach Nick Nurse impressed in his debut. Jaden Springer showed flashes of brilliance. Players stepped up and fought back down big, and that culture is a direct result of both the leaders on the court, as well as the coaching staff.