Doc Rivers is tempering expectations for preseason Sixers starters

Doc Rivers, James Harden


Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers and James Harden #1 clash in the second half of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Miami Heat.

The Philadelphia 76ers’ five-month basketball-free drought is finally over as on-court activity has resumed. The team will now take the next step towards the start of the season by taking on the Brooklyn Nets in the first game of preseason. The matchup is scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. EST and will take place in Brooklyn. NBA coaches tend to have different ways of thinking about how to use their players on preseason opportunities like this, and Doc Rivers recently shared some insight into his thought process.

Speaking to reporters after practice Sunday morning, Rivers was asked if the suspected starters will play in the matchup. Clearly making recovery a higher priority, the veteran coach responded that –

“Not many of them, but maybe a few. It’s still not really decided, honestly. At least three will be seated,” Doc Rivers said per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Will James Harden play?

The biggest question most Sixers fans are looking for an answer to is which version of James Harden will fit this year. This pre-season match would be the first opportunity to see the 33-year-old live. This would also be Harden’s first return to Brooklyn after the midseason trade that landed him in Philadelphia.

the previous 2017-18 MVP also downplayed the importance of the matchup to him when speaking to the media. He pointed out that this is just a preseason game and he didn’t expect a huge reaction from Brooklyn fans. In the two seasons he spent with the Nets, Harden only played 80 games. It’s worth noting that Ben Simmons is expected to make his debut for Brooklyn in the preseason match.

Expectations of the Sixers

While this will be a game that the top players don’t think carries much weight, it’s still a valuable opportunity for the less-proven members of the Sixers to show what they can do. That Sixers squad currently 17 players and the team needs to be reduced to 15 before the start of the regular season.

Given the first opportunity against an opponent, the Sixers members at the bottom of the roster are sure to put in their best performance. This is especially true for players like Jaden Springer, Furkan Korkmaz, Trevelin Queen, Isaiah Joe and Charles Bassey. Those last three names in particular seem to need a strong performance to ensure they make the cut.

Regardless of who folds, this game will focus much more on quality of play than results. Several members of the Sixers have spoken out in training camp about the growing pain of learning to play together, and this is a valuable opportunity to see how it fares against an opposing team.

This will be the first of four preseason matchups the Sixers will play. After Monday night’s matchup, they return home on Wednesday for a preseason matchup against the Clevland Cavaliers. There are still around two weeks until the start of the official NBA season. The Nets matchup will be the first look at several new members of the Sixers on the court, but the team is clearly not putting much stock in it. Doc Rivers is tempering expectations for preseason Sixers starters

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