Last night’s storyline was initially that the Sixers would be without their leader Joel Embiid (Rest) as Ja Morant and a young scrappy Memphis Grizzlies team come into town. That would soon change after tip-off. Morant was sensational as advertised, finishing the night with 37 pts, 5 rebs, and 5 ast. The great night by the NBA’s potential Most Improved Player (MIP) was not enough as the Sixers held on to win in overtime 122 – 119, led by Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris. There were three key takeaways from this game that led to this Sixers victory.
Maxey & Tobias
The news of Joel Embiid (rest) being out of last night’s game was reported earlier in the day, then news of Sixers guard Furkan Korkmaz (knee) was announced right before tip-off. The Sixers looked to be without two key contributors to the team, with the number four ranked defense coming into the Well Fargo Center. Scoring would be the question, and who would it come from for the Sixers to be able to win the game.
As much conversation as there has been about Tobias Harris, he has done his best to answer it. At least for last night’s game as he finished with 31pts, 5rebs, 5ast, 2blks, and going 2/5 from three. Point guard Tyrese Maxey chipped in with his own 33pts, 3rebs, 8ast, 4blks, and going 13/23 from the field.
Tobias had it going early and often getting to his spots, attacking the basket and shooting the three with conviction ending the first half with 18pts. It continued into the second half and down the stretch of the game, scoring some late-game baskets when the team needed it from him.
Maxey continued to grow and mature in his role on the team and essentially puts the NBA on notice with another 30 point performance when the team needs him to be a scorer with Embiid being out. Tyrese Maxey went head to head and score for score with one of the NBA’s top young players in Ja Morant last night, and his team came away with the win.
He came out early, attacking often and using his speed, quickness, and athleticism to score at the rim while also setting up other teammates for open threes or lobs at the rim. The first half ended, and Maxey totaled 16pts, 3ast going 7/12 shooting 58% from the field. The Sixers’ point guard continued this great night into the second half and scored 6pts in overtime, with one of his baskets coming on a late run-out fast-break layup to seal the win for the Sixers.
The 76ers are one of the worst teams this year when it comes to rebounding, even with Joel Embiid. Being without him last night wasn’t going to make it any easier. Rebounding needed to be a point of emphasis going up against the Grizzlies, who have two very good rebounders in Jaren Jackson and Steven Adams. Andre Drummond was up to the challenge last night, getting the start with Embiid (Rest) being out. Drummond battled all night with the Grizzlies bigs finishing the night with a double-double, 16pts, 23rebs, 5ast with 10 rebounds being offensive. These rebounds were huge for the team as they created more second-chance opportunities for the Sixers to cash in.
Although Ja Morant and Desmond Bane had great scoring nights. The overall Sixers defense last night was stellar as well. The transition from man to a zone all night depending on who the Sixers had on the court. There was a buzz and energy that you saw out of the team in the game. There was noticeably audible communication, movement, and active hands tonights which led to steals and blocks. The Sixers totaled 8stls and 12blks, which shows the team’s total effort last night, knowing they would have to defend a talented Ja Morant. The transition defense was there, never really giving the Grizzlies too many chances to run and Morant putting on a show. Overall the team was well prepared on that side of the court, and it showed last night.
This was a great team win by the Philadelphia 76ers without Embiid (Rest), who have now won five games in a row. Things seem to look like they are clicking for the team from coaching on down and against a good team in the Grizzlies is noteworthy. It will be interesting to see this type of play continue when Joel is back in the lineup, as it would do well to lessen the load on the big man to have to carry the team game in and game out during the season.
Also look for Maxey to continue to stay aggressive in scoring the basketball as this team still looks to find that consistent scoring next to Embiid, and Tyrese’s skillset ability that he has can add another layer that other teams have to defend.