The Sixers started the new year back in the win column, as they took this one 119-113 from the Clippers to improve to 24-14 on the season. Joel Embiid led the team with 28 points and 19 rebounds, and Ben Simmons added 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists to bring the team to 2-2 on their current road trip. Here are some key observations/moments from game that appeared to be Sixers blowout until the very end.
Ben Simmons took a jumper
One wrinkle from this game was Ben Simmons’ jumper attempt late in the 1st quarter. Most of the jump shots that Simmons has taken in his career have been fadeaways, but he shot this one straight up. While he did not convert the shot, this could huge for Simmons moving forward. Slowly adding this to his repertoire will help Sixers spacing greatly and help to rid of the offensive stagnation that plagues them at times. It will be interesting to see if Simmons starts to take more shots like these as the season goes on.
Not sure we've ever seen a shot like this from Simmons with that much time on the shot clock. pic.twitter.com/vlR8ueAbK3
— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) January 2, 2019
First-half vs second-half Sixers
The Sixers lead the NBA with an average of over 29 points in the first quarter every game, but the energy and effectiveness always seems to wane as the game goes on, especially in the second-half. The same held true on Tuesday, as the Sixers built an 18-point lead in the first half and were threatened at points in the second-half during Clippers runs. While Brett Brown’s squad did enough to pull out the win, it became a 4-point game late in the fourth-quarter. This is a significant issue, and it stems from the Sixers not being able to get a bucket when they need to stop a run from the opposing team. With Jimmy Butler ejected following a scuffle with Avery Bradley mid-way through the fourth quarter, the Sixers relied on late buckets from Joel Embiid to stay ahead late. While they snuck away with a win, the Sixers need this trend to change as they fight for seeding in a top-heavy Eastern Conference.
Jonah Bolden providing energy from the bench
Fans have been calling for increased minutes from Jonah Bolden off the bench, and Tuesday night he showed why. Bolden provided energy on both ends of the floor, adding 9 points and 6 rebounds while playing solid defense during his 15 minutes. The Sixers have gotten little positive contribution from its bench throughout much of the season, and the energy from Bolden may be exactly what they need while they look for other players to add from off the roster. Bolden’s highlight came on a put back dunk after one of his 5 offensive rebounds of the night.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) January 2, 2019
Moment between Simmons and Embiid
Early in the second half, a moment occurred between Sixers young stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons that drew some concern. Both Simmons and Embiid went up for a defensive rebound, and as Embiid grabbed it Simmons accidentally elbowed Embiid in the face. Embiid responded as he walked towards the bench in pain, yelling explicitly about Simmons:
jojo was HEATED at ben pic.twitter.com/HBL3iBCxOL
— Drew Corrigan (@Dcorrigan50) January 2, 2019
Get ready, Sixers fans. This is going to be talked about for the next week (at least), especially with many suggesting a rift building between Embiid and Simmons (no evidence for this). I don’t really know what to think about this, but it probably has more to do with Embiid not wanting to re-break his face than a rift between him and Simmons. The two have entirely different personalities, but both are incredibly competitive and part of a great culture locker room led by Brett Brown. This will be an interesting story to follow moving forward, but was more indicative of a fired up Embiid in the moment than a growing rift between the Sixers stars.
Up next, the Sixers travel to Phoenix tomorrow for a 9:00 game against the Suns
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports