PHILADELPHIA — Before handing Tyrese Maxey the ball and the point guard responsibilities this season, Nick Nurse warned of the possibility of growing pains.
Through the Sixers’ first 13 games with Maxey running the offense, there was growth – and very few, if any pains.
“He’s really, really good,” Nurse said. “That’s the first answer.”
“He’s really, really good.”
That established, Nurse has been around the pro game long enough not to scrawl declarations in cement before Thanksgiving. So after reminding that Maxey appeared a little uneasy in the Opening Night loss in Milwaukee, the Sixers’ coach warned of some possible remaining tests.
“That was a rough kind of deal,” he said of the opener. “And we maybe we’re not as organized as we wanted to be and things like that. So I think he’s getting there with that stuff.
“There’s still a long list of things that he’s got to be able to go ‘up’ with. And he is able to go up, in my opinion. So we’ll just keep working on them. I just think his sheer, sheer approach to everything – along with his talent – is probably why he avoided some of those growing pains.”
So where does he still need to grow, painfully or otherwise?
“There’s a couple of things that are up there,” Nurse said. “But I am going to keep them to myself right now.”
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The Sixers reported Tuesday that Kelly Oubre Jr. “continues to recover from a fractured rib,” and that he has participated in some individual workouts.
Oubre was injured in a reported hit-and-run accident in downtown Philadelphia Nov. 11 and was expected to be missing for a month. The report had Nurse encouraged that his preferred starting wing guard could return to action after being re-evaluated next week.
“I think there’s a chance,” he said. “I think we’re still at a stage where we don’t know how he is going to handle the contact part of it. That is going to determine when he plays.”
Nurse is pleased that Oubre has rejoined the team, even on a low-impact basis.
“It’s been good,” he said. “He has been in good spirits and very energetic.”
Oubre is averaging 16.2 points.
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It may have sounded odd in November, but Nurse agreed that the Tuesday game against Cleveland was of the must-win variety.
“For sure,” he said.
Such is the nature of the in-season tournament, which was born to manufacture such drama. The Sixers were 2-1 in East Group A, and needed the pool-play victory to remain in contention for the knockout round.
“If we want to stay alive, we’ll need this one,” he said. “And possibly point-differential will come into play for us.”
Since that point differential would be among the wild-card tiebreakers, Nurse even admitted he would continue to stalk points in the fourth quarter, even were the Sixers to be comfortably ahead. Even with the Sixers due to play in Minnesota Wednesday night, Nurse was plotting no back-to-back substitution-pattern hedges.
“It’s all on this one,” he said. “You know what I say: Start your ace and pray for rain.”
While that would be a sturdy coaching philosophy in any circumstance, Nurse knew it was necessary for one reason: The players are committed to winning $500,000 apiece, the prize money that will go to the tournament champions.
“I’ve said it before,” Nurse said. “Our guys are interested in this tournament and they want to keep it going. So they’re really into it, for sure.”
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The Sixers’ Dec. 1 game in Boston has been picked up by ESPN, replacing the originally scheduled Memphis-Dallas game.
Source: Berkshire mont