Philadelphia 76ers Gameday Report presented by NJM: Regular Season opens in Milwaukee

76ers Face Bucks in Milwaukee for 2023-24 Season Opener | Gameday Report 1/82

The 2023-24 Philadelphia 76ers begin the regular season on Thursday in Milwaukee against Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, and the Bucks.

The Sixers are led by new head coach Nick Nurse, 2019 NBA Champion and 2020 NBA Coach of the Year.

"This is year six for me as a head coach,” Nurse said Wednesday. “So I'm thankful. I am. I'm honored to have this position – one of 30 – in this city and this team. I’m fired up for it.”

"Coach Nick is a really good leader,” said new 76er Kelly Oubre Jr. “He articulates what he wants from us and makes it really simple for us to execute. I'm excited to continue to learn to elevate my game through him. He is who he is for a reason – he's a great."

Lillard – a seven-time All-Star in Portland who averaged a career-high 32.2 points per game last season – joins Antetokounmpo (31.1 PPG) in Milwaukee following a Sept. 27 blockbuster trade that included Jrue Holiday’s departure. Antetokounmpo signed a multi-year contract extension on Monday.

Milwaukee also has a new head coach in rookie boss Adrian Griffin. Former coach Mike Budenholzer was fired after a first-round playoff upset at the hands of the eighth-seeded Miami Heat. Griffin was an assistant coach under Nurse with the Toronto Raptors for the past five seasons.

The Sixers and Bucks split their four meetings last season, 2-2.

“We always have an A, B, C to start with,” Nurse said of his team’s preparation. “But we’ll see where Plan A goes and be ready for a couple adjustments if those things aren’t working out right. Sometimes before you get to B, you switch matchups. There’s a lot of things that go into it, and I think we’re just trying to get there and get prepared for all of that.”

Tobias Harris echoed one of his new coach’s mantras this week: 

“The mindset is 'Expect to Win' every single time we get on the floor.”

The 76ers ended the 2022-23 regular season with the third-best record in the NBA at 54-28 (.659), the team's best record since 2000-01 (56-26). Among the new additions to the roster are Oubre, Patrick Beverley, and Mo Bamba. Oubre posted a career-high 20.3 points per game with Charlotte last season and Beverley is an NBA veteran of nearly 600 career games. Bamba joins the Sixers as one of only 15 NBA players with at least 2,000 points, 365 blocks, and 100 steals over the past five seasons.

Philadelphia is expected to wear their white Association Edition uniforms, with Milwaukee in their green Icon Edition uniforms.

Thursday’s game is a 7:30 p.m. ET start in Milwaukee.

Preseason Overview:

Joel Embiid

  • In his lone game of the preseason on Friday against Atlanta, the reigning NBA MVP scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half, with 14 coming from the free-throw line.
  • Embiid is an 82% free-throw shooter for his career and ranked second in the NBA last season with 661 free throws made.
  • Embiid ranked second in free throws attempted (771), one behind Antetokounmpo, who went 498-for-772 (.645).

Tyrese Maxey

  • Maxey closed out the preseason with 15 points and a game-high 12 assists against the Hawks.
  • He averaged 16.0 points, 5.5 assists, and 1.8 steals in the four games.

De’Anthony Melton

  • Melton, a second-year 76er, led the team in scoring in the preseason with 18.0 points per game on 44% shooting from 3-point range (11-25 3fg).
  • He shot 6-for-10 from deep en route to a game-high 29 points in Friday’s preseason finale.

Jaden Springer

  • The 21-year-old Springer averaged 10.3 points on 66.7% shooting (including 7-for-8 from beyond the arc), 3.8 rebounds, and 1.3 steals across four exhibition contests.

Quote to Note:

76ers Head Coach Nick Nurse on playing without fear:

“I think that, mostly, it looks like that you're ready to take in-rhythm shots, if you want to talk about the offensive end. You know what that rhythm feels like and you're ready to pull the trigger. That's the first thing. And then on the other end, that you just will not back down from your matchup. No matter how great, how big, how strong, how athletic – how whatever they are – you're going to get in there and fight. Because everybody ends up on everybody this day in the NBA.”

@Sixers Social:

Follow Along Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET):

Watch: TNT

Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic

Up Next:

The Sixers head to Canada to take on Nurse’s former team in the Toronto Raptors on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET. That game is the front end of a back-to-back, with the Sixers turning around to welcome the Portland Trail Blazers in the home opener on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET.