Who would have thought that a Philadelphia 76ers game without Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and Nico Batum would be one of the most entertaining of the young NBA season? Somehow, against all odds, that ended up being the case as the incredibly shorthanded Sixers put up an incredible fight against the Celtics in Boston on Friday night.
The Pat Bev game
For Philadelphia, it truly was a team effort that kept them in the game against the top team in the East, but the charge was led by a man simply known as Pat Bev. The Sixers were in serious need of a leader without their stars on the court and, being the tenacious alpha that he’s always been, Pat Bev answered the call.
Leading the Sixers in scoring with 26 points on the night, Beverley tied his career-high in scoring while also adding eight rebounds and seven assists to the effort. While the Sixers ultimately ended up coming up short, it certainly wasn’t for a lack of trying by the grizzled veteran.
Harris’ second-half struggles
Tobias Harris started off the game on solid footing, playing quickly in transition and physically around the rim. Come the second half, the issues that have plagued Harris all season reared their ugly head. Thoughtless turnovers, lackadaisical play, and possibly above all, a failure to close golden opportunities.
Harris has continued to struggle around the rim when he has company in the vicinity. He was blocked by Al Horford twice on a single possession tonight and was also caught trying to grift a foul in transition instead of finishing.
Perhaps even more egregious than all of that, though, was his lack of assertion in a game that sorely needed him. While Harris cannot be expected to live up to his contract that has been discussed ad nauseam, he remains one of the leaders of this Sixers team, and more is deservedly expected of him than what was seen in this game.
Welcome to the dog house
There is no room for moral victories in this game. However, there are things that can occur over the course of the game that give teams hope for another day. Tonight, that source of hope came in the form of the Sixers’ toughness and the resiliency they showed.
Despite coming into the game severely shorthanded, including missing their two stars, the Sixers still understood that they had a game ahead of them. Many this offseason focused on what the team lost in James Harden, but what the team gained has been among the greatest differences in the team this season.
The additions of Patrick Beverley, Robert Covington, and Marcus Morris Sr., along with the continued growth of fierce competitors De’Anthony Melton and Paul Reed, have given this team an identity of toughness and grit.
As many like to put it, the Sixers are a team full of dogs.
In years past, there have been fair questions raised around the physical and mental toughness of the Philadelphia 76ers. While the Sixers still have plenty of questions to answer around their talent, there’s no doubting that this team is far more ready for the fight than they’ve been in years past.