P.J. Tucker Shines in Small-Ball Center Role During Preseason Victory

PJ Tucker, Sixers

Getty P.J. Tucker #17 of the Philadelphia 76ers poses at 76ers Training Complex on September 26, 2022 in Camden, New Jersey.

The start of the NBA season is now a week away and teams continue to experiment with their rosters and rotations. This continues to be the case with the Philadelphia 76ers with P.J. Tucker getting a chance to play the small-ball center role during the team’s most recent 113-97 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the preseason. Joel Embiid (rest) and Montrezl Harrell (right intercostal strain) both missed the matchup which paved the way for Doc Rivers to try this new-look lineup.

This was not a huge surprise as Rivers eluded to trying the lineup to the media earlier this week. Tucker has experience playing center which started during his time with the Houston Rockets alongside James Harden.

Tucker’s Performance Against the Cavs

During his 21 minutes of play, Tucker ended with six points, two rebounds, and an assist. He also shot one for two on three-point attempts. As is typically the case with the veteran, it was the little things he did that go beyond the stat sheet are so impactful. Despite being vastly undersized, Tucker battled with Jarrett Allen on the boards and made some valuable defensive plays. The 6’5″ scrappy veteran also caught the attention of Rivers and his teammates because of his strong play.

As the head coach put it when speaking to the media after the victory, “I thought he played great, especially with making the play after the play. He had just so much energy,” per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Rivers also pointed to the matchup issues that it brought to the Cavaliers and will continue to bring to opposing teams saying, “And for a five to chase him around all night, by the end of the night you are exhausted because he doesn’t stand under the basket. He’s running corners to corners.”

The scrappy play and impressive energy that Tucker brought played a valuable role in the Sixers’ success in this preseason matchup and the team will expect this to continue to be the case moving forward.

Other Offseason Additions Making Impact

Tucker was not the only offseason addition to make his presence felt. De’Anthony Melton had his most complete performance as a member of the Sixers thus far. He finished with seven points, six rebounds, and five assists during his 21 minutes of play. Melton also served as the glue for the small-ball lineup and made use of his 6’9″ wingspan and versatility.

Free-agent signing Danuel House also had an impressive performance in the win. He shot a perfect 4-4 from the field and 2-2 from beyond the three-point arc. In addition to the 10 points he scored, House also added two rebounds and two steals in his 14 minutes of play. The energy he played with made a major impact on the team’s success and he looks to be an improved two-way option for the Sixers.

House opened up more on his role with the team following the game. As reported by Keith Pompey, Hosue stated- “My role is just to be energy, My role is to be the guy to make stuff happen, make plays happen, make a shot, knock down a shot, get a rebound, pass the ball, set the play up, run the play up, set the screen, whatever the team needs pretty much.”

The Sixers now have just one remaining preseason game before the regular season is set to begin. The strong play from the new additions is paving the way for an exciting season. While there is still plenty of work to be done, this growth in versatility on the roster has been a positive change and the effects of it are already being put on display.

Read More