3 things to watch in Sixers’ first preseason bout with Cavs

Tyrese Maxey, Sixers, Darius Garland, Cavs (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Tyrese Maxey, Sixers, Darius Garland, Cavs (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Sixers play host to Donovan Mitchell and the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night. It will mark Mitchell’s first game in wine and gold. The two teams will face off again in a few days time on Oct. 10 in Cleveland.

For Philadelphia fans still riding the high from Monday’s win over Brooklyn, there’s plenty to look forward to in this game: starting with the potential preseason debuts of Joel Embiid, James Harden, P.J. Tucker, and Danuel House Jr. All were absent from the Nets game.

Beyond the simple pleasures of seeing Philadelphia’s star players on the court, here’s what the fanbase should keep an eye out for.

Sixers-Cavs what to watch: Who guards Cleveland’s guards?

Small, twitchy guards who can mix it up off the dribble have long plagued Philadelphia’s defense. In this game, the Sixers will face two such foes in Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland — both of whom are equally deadly with the ball in hand. Mitchell can explode to the rim with remarkable power and grace. Meanwhile, Garland is an expert pick-and-roll guard with the poise and cleverness needed to surgically disarm even the best defenses.

Who guards them?

The obvious answers are: P.J. Tucker on Mitchell and Tyrese Maxey on Garland. James Harden will probably be tucked away on Isaac Okoro in the corner while Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid handle the frontcourt. Unfortunately, those aren’t exactly favorable matchups for Philly.

Tucker is an elite competitor who can handle perimeter switches, but asking him to guard Mitchell full-time (in the preseason, no less) will not yield positive results. Maxey is capable of chasing Garland around screens and sticking with him off the bounce, but he’s no defensive stopper.

This is the kind of matchup where De’Anthony Melton might play more than Tucker out of necessity. He’s much better equipped to wreak havoc on the likes of Donovan Mitchell, and he provides comparable value to Tucker offensively. Don’t be surprised to see a healthy dose of Matisse Thybulle too.