76ers Preseason Tips Off at Toronto
With training camp in the rearview mirror, the 2021-22 76ers are set to begin their preseason slate, tipping off Monday in Toronto.
The Sixers and Raptors will meet twice this week, as the Raptors will travel to South Philadelphia for another preseason matchup on Thursday.
At the team’s final training camp practice Sunday at The Training Complex, Doc Rivers reflected on Joel Embiid’s strong showing at camp - on the court and in the locker room.
“It’s everything - what he’s saying, what he’s doing,” Rivers said of the 2020-21 MVP-finalist’s leadership. “You’ve got to do both, you can’t do one and not the other. He’s done everything. He’s missed very few reps… That’s leadership.”
Younger players like Tyrese Maxey, who has played alongside Embiid in the starting unit during camp, have shown vocal appreciation for that leadership.
“When your franchise guys like Tobias (Harris) and Joel have great spirit and great energy… that’s really good,” Maxey said after Saturday’s practice. “When your top guys do it, it trickles all the way down.”
Embiid has also been in Maxey’s ear, helping the second-year Sixer as he takes on more distribution and creation responsibility within the unit.
“My main thing for [Tyrese], he has to be a point guard,” Embiid said. “He’s a really good scorer, but he has to be a point guard. He has to get guys in their spots. He has to do the little stuff that point guards do.”
Embiid’s elite presence on both ends of the floor has been backed up by developing chemistry across the roster.
“They like to laugh, have fun, and they’re still locked in and taking everything seriously.”
The early returns from that group have been strong.
“The [second group] was phenomenal,” Rivers said following Thursday’s run. “They dominated… Shake, Furk, Matisse, Drummond, and Georges - that group is having a hell of a camp.”
Thybulle feels it too:
“The ball’s been flying around. The energy that we’ve been playing with on both ends of the court has been unreal.”
New faces and returners together, Monday’s matchup marks the first competitive run for the 2021-22 Sixers, and the first time the team has played at Toronto since Jan. 22, 2020.
Monday’s matchup tips at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Monday’s game will mark the Raptors’ first competitive play without Kyle Lowry, whose nine-year tenure with Toronto came to a close this summer as Lowry joined the Miami Heat.
Returning Raptor and All-Star Pascal Siakam led Toronto in scoring (21.4 ppg) and rebounding (7.2 rpg) in the 2020-21 season, while Fred VanVleet led the way in assists (6.3 apg) and steals (1.7 spg).
The Raptors finished last season at 27-45, finishing 12th in the Eastern Conference after playing their season in Tampa due to COVID-19.
Siakam did not play in the Raptors’ open practice (shoulder rehab) Saturday.
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