In what has been a strange season for the Sixers, Jan. 9 may have been the single strangest day. After a positive COVID test, the team spent the entire previous day in a New York hotel quarantining and getting tested. They made it back to Philly in the early morning hours, giving them little time to turn around and play a home matinee against Denver.
The Sixers were comically shorthanded. Playing against the full-strength Nuggets, the Sixers had all of seven healthy players dressed for the game. Dakota Mathias, a two-way player who hasn’t been on the team for a few months, started and played 41 minutes. Rookie guard Tyrese Maxey took advantage of the freedom, taking 33 shots and scoring 39 points.
The Sixers lost the game by 12, which was expected. While the players and coaches would grumble in the following days and weeks that they were forced to play the game, there was some Process-level appreciation for how the skeleton crew had competed in an impossible spot. Again, there was an appreciation for it being the single strangest day of the strangest regular season.
One of the highlights of that unusual day was the other two-way player, Paul Reed. He finished with six points, seven rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal while finishing a team-high plus-13 in 26 minutes. In the first quarter, Reed corralled a missed Danny Green 3-pointer and promptly knocked in a hook shot over Nikola Jokic. And Matt Cord, the Sixers’ longtime, creative public address announcer broke out a new one: BBALL PAUL!