Playing at home, where they’re undefeated, the Sixers took care of the Clippers 122-113. Closing out the game against a good Clippers team was huge for them after their loss to the Raptors earlier in the week. There was quite a bit to be happy about in the game too.
1) Markelle Fultz is looking better with each game out.
Fultz finished with 12 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists on 50% shooting tonight. He made some good plays and looked aggressive in the second half. He was moving better and while still not getting passes when he’s open on the outside, he did well driving to the basket tonight.
2)Joel Embiid is working towards an MVP
Embiid ended the night with 43 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. He was much more aggressive in the first half and the Clippers could do nothing to stop him. For the season, Embiid is averaging close to 29 points and 12 rebounds a game to go with just over 2 blocks and 4 assists. It’s amazing to watch him play at the level he does, knowing that he’s only played a few years of organized basketball when he’s not been injured. He missed a couple of three pointers in the fourth quarter but still finished 3-8 from beyond the arc. When Boban Marjanovic started to put a body on Embiid, he initially started to shy away from the post, choosing to shoot from the outside, but as the game was winding down and it was still close, Embiid went to work and really did some damage to the 7’3” Marjanovic. If Embiid continues to play at the level he’s been playing at to start the season, the MVP is something that could really wind up in his hands at the end of the year.
3) Ben Simmons shoots… sort of
Simmons came out and took two jump shots in the first couple of minutes of the game, making one, and it looked like the talk that Bret Brown had with him had paid off as Simmons was moving well and looked to be aggressive. But, as the game went on, Simmons showed quite a bit of hesitation. Even when moving in to the box and being given the ball with some momentum, Simmons stopped his dribble and passed outside. For a guy his size and with his skillset, he should be much more aggressive and scoring more than the 12 points per game that he’s scoring now. I’m not sure if it’s him not being confident in his shooting from the floor or the foul line, or if he’s just not aggressive and always looking to make a pass. Either way, Simmons has to figure it out if the Sixers are going to take the next step this year and get deeper in to the playoffs.
4) Dario Saric needs a long rest
For as much as people love the “homie”, he’s not been producing this year and has looked tired and flat on the floor. Five points on 1-8 shooting is not what you expect or what you want from your starting power forward. All of his shots are coming up short and even on layups, like tonight, he’s hitting the front of the rim. There’s no spring in him and he looks like he’s playing on dead legs. The amount of international basketball he plays in the offseason is hurting him as a player as well as his team this year. He needs a rest and with Wilson Chandler, hopefully, coming back soon, maybe Brett Brown can sit Saric for a couple of games and get him back to normal instead of waiting until the All-Star break as he’s done the past couple of years. The Sixers need Saric and right now he’s just not there for them.
5) Landry Shamet is starting to show why he was a first round pick
When Shamet came out of college this past year there was no question that he could shoot. He was 44% in college from three-point range and started slowly this season, as could be expected. But, after working and spending time with JJ Redick, it looks like he may have turned a corner. Even in the Toronto game he showed that he’s willing to take some shots but, tonight they started falling. Shamet went 5-8 from the field but was 3-6 from downtown. He’s coming of the screens in the same manner that Reddick does and is getting his shot off quickly. If he continues to grow, the Sixers will be looking good and would have found anoter very good three-point shooter. While you may think that thirteen points isn’t a great amount, he only played 23 minutes and when he was on the floor, he was active and moving well within the offense. Shamet is a shooter and each game he’s getting more confident in taking the shots at the NBA level.
6) JJ Redick is continuing to do his thing.
Redick was not great from the floor as he shot 4-12 but included in that was 3-6 from beyond the arc as well as 7-8 from the free throw line. The one free throw he missed he looked like he was going to lose his mind when it bounced away. Another 18-point night for Redick who continues to fire away and is shooting over 41% on the season from outside the three-point line. Hopefully, with some rest and not having to play loads of minutes, Redick will be shooting the lights out deep in to the playoffs for the Sixers because if they’re going to get there a huge part of it will be how he plays.
7) Robert Covington seems to be getting back to normal
RoCo had 10 points on the night, which might not seem like a great night, but he also had seven rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots while only missing one shot. He finished 2-2 from beyond the arc and 4-5 overall. He was all over the court and moving well tonight with lots of energy. He needs to build off this performance and keep playing at this level if the Sixers are going to keep winning.
Overall, with the exception of the majority of the third quarter which saw the Sixers squander a fifteen-point halftime lead only to regain it by the end of the quarter, the Sixers played themselves a very good game. Seeing Fultz contributing has to be a good thing for the fans that have been waiting for him to break out since being drafted #1 overall in 2017. Still, putting up the line he did tonight in only 21 minutes was something positive for the Philly fans and his teammates to see. This was easily one of the Sixers better games they’ve played this season and hopefully they can continue to build off this performance and keep racking up wins against quality opponents.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports