With an 8-8 away record, the Indiana Pacers aren’t exactly the leagues’ most intimidating team. However, in an instance where the Sixers are looking to gear-down as the All-Star run-in begins, this game was always going to be the perfect opportunity to try and get the bench going. That’s exactly what happened in the 130-114 win.
Doc Rivers opted to try and keep his starters well-rested, with none of the typical starting five playing over 30 minutes. That didn’t stop Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons from having some serious fun on the court. The chemistry was contagious, the passing was strong, and the two combined for 42 points in 55 minutes.
Tobias Harris was absent entirely due to a knee contusion, opening up a big opportunity for Mike Scott, who has had a tough start to the 2021 season, battling lower-body injury setbacks. It’s one he and the rest of the group ultimately made the most of.
Scott played in 25 minutes on the night, going a perfect 4-4 from the field (three of which came beyond the arc) for a combined 11 points along with 4 rebounds and 4 steals. It was encouraging to see Scott continue his return to playing with a sense of confidence and it very much set the tone for the rest of the bench.
With Isaiah Joe sent to the Blue Coats, Furkan Korkmaz saw the Lions’ share of bench minutes behind Scott and put up 19 points, 2 assists, and 2 blocks. This matched his career-high just 3 games after he established it in the win over Toronto. Korkmaz went 6-13 from three-point range but this would’ve been even more clinical had it not been for some late ‘yolo’ attempts in a bid to set a new career-high with the game out of reach.
Shake Milton was the other colossal Sixers standout of the night, leading the team in points (26) and looking as dangerous as he has all season long. Is it a coincidence that Milton exploded just as he did on this date one year ago against the Clippers where he racked up 39 points? Maybe March Madness will hit the NBA after all!
Overall, the bench combined for 67 total points, which is outstanding given how inconsistent the production has been this season. Even Terrance Ferguson logged his first points as a Sixer, adding a little glint of wholesomeness in the fourth quarter.
The Pacers have now lost three consecutive games when facing the Sixers in Philadelphia and this may have been the most impressive win yet. Rivers allowed his bench players to shoulder the load and with some athletic dunks from Dwight Howard only spurring on the young group, the result was a performance that should help both Doc Rivers and Daryl Morey sleep at night knowing that while bench scoring is still a primary need ahead of the trade deadline, the current roster is more than capable of holding the fort.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire