The Sixers faced off against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday evening without their three stars and still managed to win 113-103.
Joel Embiid was out due to a planned rest day, and Tobias Harris was pulled after warmups and declared out due to health and safety protocols. The Sixers played as a team and moved the ball very well, ending up with 34 assists on 43 made shots. They worked hard on offense and defense for this win against a healthy Blazers squad. Seth Curry (23 pts, 6 rebs, 5 assts) and Georges Niang (21 pts, 5 rebs, 5 assts). Norman Powell led his team, scoring 23 points. Take a look at five observations from tonight’s game:
Andre Drummond Replacing Embiid
The Andre Drummond Experience was on display as he replaced Embiid in the starting lineup. He helped the Sixers try to control the boards with 11 rebs at halftime and ended with 15 overall. He showcased some of his playmaking skills, racking up 7 assists.
He did have some frustrating moments of turnovers and missing bunnies around the rim but ultimately had a good game. Drummond ended the game with 14 pts, 15 rebs, 7 assts, and 5 steals, which is a stat line no Sixer has had since Charles Barkley.
The team defense was outstanding against the Blazers in the absence of Joel Embiid. The Sixers wound up with 11 steals and did their best to try to keep Portland’s backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in check. They struggled with keeping the Trailblazers off the offense glass, and that helped keep Portland in the game going into the fourth quarter but turned up their defense in the final 5 minutes.
Shake Milton Returning to Form
Since Shake Milton has returned from injury, he has made his presence felt in the second unit. He has shown improvement as a passer, making a few pocket passes we haven’t seen in seasons before. Milton ended up with 10 points and helped to keep the second unit steady. Milton is still feeling his way back into the flow of the game but look for him to start being more aggressive as the season progresses.
Seth Curry Continues to Cook
Seth Curry continued his good start to the season. He created offense for the home team through pick and rolls and down screens. There were also a few moments late in the fourth where he was able to get some buckets in Isolation. He also had some great passes, which led to 5 assists.
Curry seemed ready to take on a bigger load of the offense after his playoff run last season, and it is showing now. Curry should be at the top of the list for Most Improved Player of the Year early on.
Georges Niang is a Major Upgrade
Georges Niang is once again showing he is an upgrade from Mike Scott coming off the bench. He seems like he does the little things to make up for his lack of athleticism. Niang had some good passes driving to the hoop, attacking closeouts against the Trailblazer.
His volume and confidence creates much-needed spacing for driving lanes. His energy was infectious, and this is now officially dubbed the Georges Niang Game.
The 76ers will face off Wednesday evening against the upstart Chicago Bulls in Philly. Joel Embiid should be returning from rest, and hopefully, we get good news about Tobias Harris’ absence.