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De’Anthony Melton discusses back issue after return in Sixers win

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia 76ers got a bit healthier on Friday as they welcomed De’Anthony Melton back to the lineup in a 104-97 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The versatile guard had seven points in 16 minutes off the bench after missing roughly five weeks due to lumbar spine stress response.

Melton is an important piece of what the Sixers want to do. He is another option on the perimeter on the offensive end with his shooting ability and he is somebody who is going to get after it on the defensive end of the floor. He played a role in Friday’s win over the Cavs.

“Man, I think just from the time waking up I think I was just excited finally knowing I’ll be able to suit it up with my teammates, and stuff like that,” Melton said. “I felt pretty good. Got the proper stuff that I needed. Mentally I was just wanting to go out there and do whatever I can to help my team.”

There were times out there when he looked a bit winded, but considering it’s his first game back since Jan. 12, that is to be expected.

“Conditioning’s an issue, but I think he looked bouncy and springy and athletic tonight,” coach Nick Nurse said of Melton. “He guarded well and he sprung right into that first 3-ball and he got tied up a little bit playing one-on-one but again I thought he looked like he was moving really good early. I think conditioning caught up with him. It’s been about a month so he’s gonna take a couple games before he’s ready to probably play some extended minutes at top athletic ability.”

Tyrese Maxey, who is a close friend of Melton’s on the team, was very happy to see him back on the floor.

“Oh, my goodness. Yes. Yes,” Maxey said. “I was just telling him I was so happy to see him just active. Reaching and hacking and fouling and doing all the De’Anthony Melton stuff that he does and it just he looked happy. He looked excited. He looked bouncy. Looked springy and I’m glad we got him for a long haul.”

A back injury can be tricky. The Sixers want to take things slow with Melton as he moves forward and Philadelphia wants to make sure he is going to be ready for the big games and matchups in the future.

“Just physically taking hits,” Melton said of any challenges at the moment. “Taking hits and landing and stuff like that has been the biggest thing. When I first got out there, I was a little nervous just to hit somebody off rip, but once I hit somebody, I felt pretty good about how the back responded. Now it’s just pretty much mentally and staying on top of my rehab.”

The Sixers will take on the Milwaukee Bucks at home on Sunday.

Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire