Sixers set franchise record for threes made in 135-120 win over Raptors

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Kelly Oubre Jr. reacts after forcing a turnover during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors, Friday, Dec. 22, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Sorely needing a win, the Philadelphia 76ers found themselves in Toronto for a matchup against the Raptors in the second half of their two-game road trip. Ahead of the game, it was reported that the Sixers would not only be down superstar Joel Embiid but also All-Star guard Tyrese Maxey.

Philadelphia came into the game having won just three of its last three. Playing without both of its stars was obviously less than ideal, but as a unit, the team stepped up, securing a double-digit win and setting a franchise record for threes made (24) in the process.

While the win was an absolute team effort, several Sixers stood out among the others. First and foremost, Kelly Oubre delivered for Philadelphia in one of his most efficient games of the season.

The best bargain in the NBA

Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (9) looks to pass during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks in New York, Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)

The signing of Kelly Oubre this offseason was one of the most impactful of the entire offseason. To land a player who has contributed to the degree that Oubre has so late in the offseason is one thing, but to sign him to just a minimum contract is unheard of.

Coming into the game averaging 14.8 points over 61 games, Oubre has stepped up and played every role the Sixers have needed him to over the course of the season. Constantly moving back and forth between a bench role and a starting spot is not easy for most NBA players, yet Oubre has done so without any noticeable impact on his game.

Kelly Oubre is unapologetically himself on and off the court, playing his signature brand of basketball that could kill your team on one night and single-handedly win you a game on another.

Tonight, Oubre was the early offensive engine for the Sixers, scoring 18 first-half points. Finishing with 32 points, Oubre was a scoring machine, scoring with relative efficiency and an impressive performance from deep, shooting 54.5 percent from deep on eleven attempts.

Simply put, the Sixers do not win this game without Kelly Oubre, and this is far from the first time that has been the case this season. He continues to prove himself the best bargain in the NBA with every game.

“The Nico Batum trade”

Philadelphia 76ers forward Nicolas Batum (40) passes as he falls out of bounds while being defended by Dallas Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber (42) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)

Similar to landing Kelly Oubre in free agency, the Sixers’ acquiring Nico Batum in the James Harden trade was a standout move this offseason. Like Oubre, Batum has served in every role asked of him and once again went outside his comfort zone against Toronto. Batum was still the calculated cerebral jack-of-all-trades he always has been, but he went beyond that, taking on a share of the scoring burden and finishing with 19 points.

While the plethora of draft picks Philadelphia received for Harden, including two firsts and a first-round swap, will eventually prove their value either in the draft or, more likely, via trade, Batum has been of immense value to Philadelphia in the present, distinguishing himself from every other asset the Sixers received.

Alongside Joel Embiid, Batum was an incredible role player and the perfect complement to the reigning MVP. Without him, he has still proven to be just as valuable, adapting to any call from head coach Nick Nurse. The Sixers will need him to continue to do so if they are to make a legitimate postseason push.

CamPayning for more minutes

Philadelphia 76ers’ Cameron Payne, right, goes up for a shot against Memphis Grizzlies’ John Konchar during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Once again, reserve guard Cam Payne proved himself ready for the moment, filling in a starter for the injured Tyrese Maxey. Putting up an impressive 24 points including six made threes, Payne stepped up as the Sixers needed him which has been a trend ever since he came over at the NBA trade deadline.

Since coming to Philadelphia from Milwaukee, Payne’s points per 100 possessions have vastly increased from 19.8 points to 25.7 points. He has consistently shown a necessary sense of urgency and has remained ready knowing the Sixers may need him to shoulder a sizable portion of the offensive burden at a moments notice.

Payne, Batum, and Oubre combined for 17 of the Sixers franchise record 24 made threes. All three came in to their Sixers’ careers with minimal expectations at best and have undoubtly smashed through their perceived ceilings this season.

As the Sixers now head home for a matchup against the Western Conference-leading Thunder, there is a chance, albeit slight, that fans may be in line to witness the return of Joel Embiid. Regardless of if Embiid is ready to go, a repeat performance by the Sixers’ role players would undoubtedly be welcome facing one of the toughest squads in the league.