Tyrese Maxey stars, Ben Simmons looks like Ben Simmons as Sixers top Nets in preseason opener

Welcome back to NBA basketball … sort of.

The Sixers began their preseason slate with a 127-108 win over Ben Simmons and the Brooklyn Nets. Joel Embiid, James Harden and P.J. Tucker sat out, while the Nets were missing Seth Curry and T.J. Warren.

Brooklyn rolled out what is likely to be its regular-season starting lineup, while Doc Rivers used an intriguing defensive-minded unit.

Here are a few observations from the night:

First quarter

  • You expected a lot of deflections with the starting lineup the Sixers threw out there — and they did not disappoint. Newcomer De’Anthony Melton got a deflection on the first possession. A few plays later, he fell on the floor going all out attempting to pick off a pass for Irving. It feels like Melton is going to be a fan favorite in no time.
  • Tyrese Maxey, still quite good. He hit two threes off the bounce and and then made a pretty runner.
  • Encouraging to see Matisse Thybulle knock down a three. Zero hesitation as the ball swung to him on the wing. He said on media day he simplified his mechanics and you could see that on his first look of the preseason. He picked off a Simmons’ pass on the next possession but then fumbled the “pick-six” opportunity.
  • Speaking of threes, Tobias Harris canned one off a screen. That is VERY encouraging. Harris adapted well to his role once Harden arrived, but his ability to potentially run off screens and make shots would add another dimension to Harris’ offensive package. He took two more quick trigger threes that were a little off.
  • It look likes the Nets want to use Simmons in a Draymond Green-type role. It makes a lot of sense. Simmons’ took one jumper and it was ugly. He also missed two free throws. But if he stays within himself, there’s a role next to Durant and Irving that suits him very well. Really, Simmons looked like Simmons — lots of good stuff with obvious limitations.
  • Maxey with a great pick-and-roll read and an assist to Reed. He had another assist to Melton for a three on the break off a steal. Then he hit a midrange jumper off a two-man game with Reed. Maxey looked like the best player on the floor.
  • Georges Niang and Isaiah Joe came right in and made threes. Sixers can’t miss (7 for 11). Can’t expect those percentages to stay, but you have to like the the team hunting them so aggressively.
  • Maxey was excellent with a game-high 14 points and three assists. Melton and Thybulle with a pair of steals each. The Sixers shot a blistering 8 of 14 from deep for the quarter. Again, that’s an unsustainable pace, but that’s the way this team needs to play around Embiid and Harden. Sixers took a 42-26 lead into the second — and were a lot of fun to watch. Simmons with a very Simmons stat line: six points, five assists, four rebounds, two turnovers, 0 for 2 from the line.

Second quarter

  • No shortage of energy from Montrezl Harrell. The veteran big had a couple difficult defensive possessions that ended with a foul, but his juice on the offensive glass is going to be a big asset. Still has great touch around the rim and should provide decent scoring punch off the bench.
  • Nice little finish from Melton going coast-to-coast. It’s nice to see players that can do a little bit of everything out there.
  • Sixers getting spread thin by the Nets’ offense. It’s hard to defend a lineup with KD and Irving. It feels like Brooklyn picked up their intensity a bit while the Sixers took their foot off the gas. It’s preseason. It’s also basketball. Teams go on runs.
  • Another really nice steal from Melton and a great look ahead to Maxey for a pretty finish. That duo looks like it could be a lot of fun.
  • Paul Reed is just pure chaos. I can’t even describe some of these moments.
  • The Nets came storming back in the second quarter, but hey, give this Sixers group credit. They stood toe-to-toe with Brooklyn’s best and managed to cling to a 65-62 lead going into the locker room. Maxey with a game-high 20 points, including going 2 of 4 from three and 6 of 6 from the line. Despite shooting 2 of 10 from the field, Melton had three steals and was fun to watch. Tobias Harris added nine points, four rebounds and four assists.

Third quarter

  • No Maxey, Harris or Melton to start the second half. No Simmons, Durant or Irving for the Nets.
  • Good chaos from Reed to start the second half. Getting his hands on everything. Markieff Morris did not seem prepared for this energy level.
  • Isaiah Joe continued to be the best preseason shooter in NBA history. He’s 3 of 5 on the night. He’s shown a little something off the bounce with a couple nice looks. It’s going to be an uphill battle for Joe to earn minutes, but he’s looked good.
  • Julian Champagnie, one of the Sixers’ two two-way players, getting a look here. No Trevelin Queen yet.
  • Jaden Springer sighting.
  • Furkan Korkmaz with a couple nice finishes running the pick-and-roll with Harrell. Also nails a three. It’s been Korkmaz and Joe running the offense, which is interesting.
  • These Sixers will not lack for energy, that is for damn sure. Harrell has been a mixed bag, but he’s played the first preseason game like it’s Game 7. He fouled out in less than 12 minutes — which is borderline impressive.
  • Now, Charles Bassey and Charlie Brown Jr. getting a look.
  • Springer forces a turnover and then gets a nice and-one finish on the other end. The 20-year-old got good reviews during camp. The flashes are there.
  • Korkmaz probably a little too good to be playing here. He beat up the Nets’ reserves and put the Sixers back up 101-86 heading into the fourth. Korkmaz with 15 points and four assists.

Fourth quarter

  • It felt like Champagnie didn’t hit a single shot during summer league. He’s hit a pair of threes on two attempts already. He doesn’t even look like the same player. Encouraging stuff from the undrafted rookie.
  • Queen checks in. A couple nice players from the G League MVP. Strong pick-and-roll read leading to a Bassey slam and then a nifty drive and finish.
  • Springer has been mighty active on both ends. Tried to catch a body but Edmond Sumner committed a hard (but clean) foul on a dunk attempt.
  • Unfortunate moment as Queen lands hard and hit the back of his head on the floor. He was forced to leave the game. Hate to see that, especially for a guy on a non-guaranteed contract fighting to make the team.
  • Champagnie with a nice look to Exhibit 10 signee Michael Foster Jr. followed by another three. Seriously, not even recognizable from summer league.

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