The Philadelphia 76ers pulled off another convincing win on Saturday night, beating the Indiana Pacers on the road 141-121. This win brings the Sixers’ record to 48-22, including a league-best eight-game win streak. Though they still sit at third place in the East, they hold the same number of losses as the second-seeded Boston Celtics, who currently have two more wins than them.
For his ninth game in a row, MVP-leader Joel Embiid put up over 30 points – a franchise record, with only Allen Iverson and Wilt Chamberlain as the only Sixers to have put up an eight-game 30+ point streak. He put up a final stat line of 30 PTS/7 REB/7 AST/2 BLK in just 30 minutes of play. Despite an early eight-point deficit, the big man’s unreal level of efficiency on both ends of the court led the team to make a quick comeback and ultimately allowed him to once again sit out the fourth quarter.
But Embiid wasn’t the only one who stepped up in a major way for this game. With both James Harden and P.J. Tucker out for the Sixers due to injury management, De’Anthony Melton and Danuel House Jr. stepped in as starters alongside Tyrese Maxey. Melton and Maxey did a nice job taking over Harden’s ball-movement responsibilities, with 5 and 7 assists, respectively.
House was a solid replacement for Tucker’s signature hawkish on-ball defense, though he contributed little offensively, a single made three-pointer in 19 minutes. But the rest of the team more than made up for this. Maxey tied Embiid in points at 31, while Tobias Harris seemingly broke out of his recent offensive woes, contributing a whopping 24 points, including 4-6 from three. Georges Niang and Paul Reed contributed 10 points apiece, while Jalen McDaniels and Shake Milton had seven and nine, respectively.
While much of the game – especially the first half – seemed to mimic the defenseless shootout of the last Sixers-Pacers game, Embiid and Melton managed to pick up a bit of transition defense as the game went on. Melton had a whopping six steals, and with Pacers guard Tyrese Halliburton out, Embiid had the flexibility to focus on rim protection. While the Pacers focused primarily on limiting Embiid, this quickly became a losing strategy.
Embiid has grown so much as a passer, meaning when he wasn’t taking a step-back jumper over a defender’s head, he was kicking out to a wide-open Harris, Maxey, or Niang for a three-point shot. The 29-year-old continues to play some of the best two-way basketball of his career, and with playoffs right around the corner, the team will look to continue building on their current momentum.
With back-to-back road games on the road behind them, the Sixers will head home to face the Chicago Bulls on Monday night at 7pm.