Some Orlando D12 action tonight for the Sixers.
Despite being without both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons tonight, the Sixers were not fazed in the slightest against an energetic Chicago Bulls team. Paced by the likes of Dwight Howard, Tobias Harris, and even Tony Bradley (who made the start in place of JoJo), the Sixers cruised to a rather comfortable 22 point win over the Bulls.
Due to a COVID-19 exposure that the duo experience over the NBA’s All-Star break, Embiid and Simmons were ruled out for tonight’s Eastern Conference matchup. Normally, something like this would cause Philly to absolutely crumble come game time, as they historically almost always lose when both Embiid and Simmons are out.
However, tonight was a completely different story, as the team’s lesser utilized reserves really stepped up and delivered when called upon.
Making the start in place of Embiid and Simmons, both Tony Bradley and Matisse Thybulle were perfect from the field. The duo combined for 27 points on 12-12 shooting, with Thybulle chipping in a career-high five steals along with some excellent defense on Bulls All-Star Zach LaVine.
Tobias Harris was his usual self in the starting lineup, as he poured in a game-high 24 points on 8-15 shooting, and the partnership of Furkan Korkmaz and Shake Milton combined for an additional 26 points off the bench. Milton also grabbed eight rebounds while Korkmaz recorded four assists and three steals.
However, despite the collectively great performance that was put in by pretty much everyone on the Sixers roster tonight, it was Dwight Howard who really ended up stealing the show.
Staying put in his typical bench role, Howard stacked up 18 points and 12 rebounds in just 24 minutes of action. He was constantly disruptive on defense and always seemed to find a way to get his hands on any loose balls or offensive rebounds. There were points during the game where the Sixers were legitimately running their offense through Dwight, throwing up lobs to the veteran center to which he ferociously dunked – it all gave me flashes of prime D12 from his Orlando Magic days.
All in all, tonight was a fantastic “feel good” win for Doc Rivers and the Sixers. Like previously stated, this team normally folds when one of Simmons or Embiid is forced to rest, never mind them both sitting out. Seeing the squad rally around role-players like Bradley, Thybulle, and Howard is a very good sign, and ultimately speaking, keeps them atop the Eastern Conference for at least one more day.
The Sixers are back in action tomorrow night against the Washington Wizards at 8:00 PM ET.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire