In search of their sixth straight victory, Joel Embiid and the Sixers turned their attention to the shorthanded San Antonio Spurs led by Dejounte Murray. The Spurs came into the game in 10th place in the West with a record of 15-22 and are several years away from being a legitimate contender making this a great chance to continue to win streak.
The Sixers continue to get healthier as Matisse Thybulle was able to clear health and safety protocols and be available for this matchup. Tyrese Maxey, Paul Reed, and Jaden Springer remain in protocols while the back pain that began in the previous game held Isaiah Joe out of this matchup. Danny Green was questionable leading up to the game but was able to play on a minutes limit and had a calf sleeve on the injured leg.
Despite the praise from Greg Popovich leading up to the game, Joel Embiid was able to get it going early on. The Sixers played through Embiid in the halfcourt, allowing him to set up passing an attack when he saw appropriate. Embiid used his physicality to the free-throw time 9 times in the first quarter and picked up two fouls on Spurs starting center Jakob Poeltl in the first 1:58 of game time. Embiid ended the first quarter with 11 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds.
Tobias Harris fully snapped out of his cold streak and got going right away in this matchup. The Sixers made sure to get Tobi involved early and often. With the boos from the previous home game still fresh in his mind, Tobias Harris scored 14 first-half points on 7-8 shooting. He also continued to help captain the second unit and served as the primary ball-handler with Tyrese Maxey still away from the team.
The sole bright spot of Tyrese Maxey being out has been the opportunity it has provided to others, and Charlie Brown Jr made sure to capitalize on this. The Delaware Blue Coats forward was given a hardship contract and was subbed in during the first quarter. Brown played five minutes, notching two steals and scoring his first career NBA bucked, which erupted the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center.
The first half was just about as perfect as possible from the Sixers’ perspective, and they held the lead for all 24 minutes. They took a 39-19 lead after the first quarter and then a 71-53 lead at the half. The 71 point performance marks the most points the Sixers have scored in a single half all season. This effort put them in a perfect spot to coast to a win against the shorthanded Spurs.
In the early minutes of the second half, it was clear that the Spurs simply couldn’t keep up with this Sixers team. Dejounte Murray did his best to keep the Spurs in the game, ending with 27 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds, but it simply wasn’t enough to keep his team afloat. Murray has been a name connected to the Sixers in the looming Ben Simmons deal, and he did his best to give his audition tonight.
It was an efficient performance from the Sixers, who shot 51.7% (45-87) from the field tonight. While it didn’t hurt them in tonight’s matchup, the Sixers neglected shots from behind the arc too much tonight as they only attempted 23 three-pointers. The Sixers did dominate on the boards and outrebounded the Spurs 49-39 in the matchup.
Seth Curry continued to flash the areas of his game outside of his shooting. Curry ended with 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists and knocked down three three-pointers for the team. The trio of Embiid, Harris, and Curry combined for 77 points in the matchup and helped the Sixers cruise to the blowout victory. Many of the Sixers’ young players were able to get some run toward the end of the game, and Aaron Henry was also able to notch his first career NBA bucket.
While some might brush off this win against an undermanned Spurs team, every win is an important one. The Sixers have struggled a great deal in the past at playing down to their competition, and this recent change is incredibly refreshing. Taking care of business against the team they should beat is a massive improvement, and this has been seen during the recent win streak. The Sixers held the lead for all 48 minutes tonight, which is an impressive feat regardless of who the opponent is.
The other main takeaway (as is often the case) is simply the greatness of Joel Embiid. It feels as if every time you think you can’t be more amazed by him, he finds another way to raise the bar. Embiid ended tonight’s game with 31 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists in his 32 minutes of play. The winning streak has now reached six games, and the Sixers continue to their climb up the standings. This should be a reminder that as long as Joel Embiid is a member of the Sixers, there will always be hope that a championship will come to Philly.