Ahead of their next game Friday night, the 76ers (20-13) upgraded Tyrese Maxey to “probable” for the meeting with the New Orleans Pelicans (22-12). Maxey has been out of the lineup for more than a month since suffering a fracture in his left foot during the Nov. 18 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
“I'm just happy, honestly,” Maxey said. “Just happy and blessed. Going through injury is hard. Really just kept trying to encourage myself and encourage my teammates. It's a blessing.”
In addition to Maxey’s status, the Thursday evening injury report included the following Pelicans players: Brandon Ingram (out - left great toe contusion), Herbert Jones (questionable - return to competition reconditioning), E.J. Liddell (right knee ACL injury recovery), and Larry Nance Jr. (doubtful - neck spasm).
Nance Jr. departed the previous game early, while Jones returned to practice Thursday after missing the last two games due to health and safety protocols.
New Orleans is currently tied for the best record in the Western Conference at 22-12.
Zion Williamson, the No. 1 overall pick by the Pelicans in the 2019 NBA Draft, enters the matchup coming off a career-high 43 points in Wednesday’s 119-118 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Williamson took control of the game down the stretch by scoring the last 14 points for his team to prevail on home court. Minnesota led 110-105 with 3:26 to play.
The nailbiter presented a unique opportunity for 76ers Head Coach Doc Rivers.
"I got to see the Pelicans play last night,” Rivers said. “I was sitting in the stands... I haven't been in the crowd in a long time. The fans were great. We had a lot of fun back-and-forth with them. It was great… They were fun because my son Austin was playing [for the Timberwolves]."
"That's never happened in my entire career, where on the road somewhere, your son is playing and hasn't left yet,” Rivers added. “And they stayed overnight, so you get to go to dinner with him and a couple guys. That was absolutely terrific."
After a 116-111 loss to the Washington Wizards on Tuesday, the Sixers begin the front end of a road back-to-back that will send them to Oklahoma City for a New Year’s Eve contest on Saturday night. This pair of games will conclude their four-game road trip.
Friday will mark the first of two meetings between the Sixers and Pelicans, with the second game set to tip off the new year this coming Monday in South Philadelphia.
The former is an 8:30 p.m. ET start in New Orleans.
When We Last Saw Them…
Quote to Note:
More from Tyrese Maxey:
"You've got to lean on your teammates. They're the ones who have been out there for what – a month and a half without you? They have rhythm going. You don't try to go in and force anything. You just try to go with the flow and you try to help your team win games. That's all I want to come in and do, and bring good energy, bring good spirit, and do whatever they need me to do."
Follow Along Friday (8:30 p.m. ET):
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
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