Another monster game out of the best big man in basketball is what happened last night in Phoenix. Joel lead the way with 42 points and 18 rebounds. He now leads the league with the most 40 point and 10 rebound games this season with 4. Embiid wasn’t the only 76er that was able to have a big night offensively. Simmons and Redick had terrific nights scoring as well when it mattered most. This is all great considering the team almost blew a 30 point lead in the second half. Let’s take a look at how it all went down.
In a night without Jimmy Butler, Wilson Chandler, and Amir Johnson the team would need a big time performance out of their big time players. Along side the 42 from Embiid, Simmons and Redick pitched in 29 pts and 27 pts of their own. The bench played below average in the win, only giving 20 points. They were outscored by Phoenix bench 53-20. The biggest story of the game was the second half. At one point with 4:08 to go in the 3rd quarter, the 76ers lead 97-67…… 97 to 67 and won the game by 5 points. For the rest of the quarter the suns went on a 20 to 7 run to make it a game.
Basketball is a game of runs and how you handle the runs. The Suns would take another run at the win late in the 4th. Lead by Devin Booker, the Suns got within 3 points with 6 seconds left. J.J. would go on to hit 2 clutch free throws and close out the game. A win like this is something the 76ers needed. Going on a road trip, missing one of your top players, and key role players, and playing a very young and dangerous Phoenix team is the definition of a trap game.
Additionally, this is where not having a consistent bench hurt last night. I love T.J. McConnell, but he can’t be playing 28 mins a night. Hopefully Fultz can figure it out and be able to provide another scorer off the bench, I believe he can with some time away from basketball. Missing a dynamic 2 way player in Butler hurts from being able to lead, score, and defend during these types of games. If Butler plays I see Philly winning by 15 at least.
Inside the Numbers
Diving into the numbers is always great to analyze after a game. The team shot well throughout the game. 54.1% from the field and 45.8% from deep is going to help you win in this league. In a shooters league, this is the type of shooting percentage you need to have night in and night out. Turnovers continue to be a problem for this team. 17 turnovers is how you lose games. Plain and simple. If you want to be considered an elite threat of a team, they are going to have to cut down on the turnovers.
The free throw line still seems to haunt Ben Simmons. 15-23 for 65% is simply leaving just points on the board. Joel and J.J. Shot great from the stripe (89% and 80%), and it was nice to see Korkmaz play solid with a +20 rating. Demetrius Jackson on the other hand was -16, but didn’t miss a shot all night. Nothing like shooting 100% for the night.
Additionally, they are scoring 114 ppg, which is one of the highest averages in the league. The only down side is that they are giving up 112 ppg which is also one of the highest averages in the league. Cleaning up the turnovers and defense before the all star break should be the main focus by coach Brown.
Where They Stand Now
Transitioning to the standings, the 76ers sit at second in the Atlantic Standings at 25-14 on the year. 3 games back of Toronto isn’t a terrible place to be. In the Eastern Conference standings, they are currently the 4 seed behind Indiana, Toronto, and Milwaukee. What’s interesting is that they are the 7th best team in the entire league right now. Getting Jimmy Butler back will be big for this team, as well as getting a fully healthy roster is going to be key for the rest of the 1st half of the season.
A 2 game win streak and going 3-1 on a west coast road trip is promising especially with a young team like this.
Looking ahead to the next up coming games, on Saturday the Mavs come to down and will have their hands full with Luka Doncic. I see Joel winning his match up with Deandre Jordan as the 76ers will roll to a 117-105 win to continue the new year wining streak.
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports