Sixers looking to bounce back tonight vs the Thunder
After last night’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, the Philadelphia 76ers are back at it again tonight in Oklahoma City against the Thunder. The Sixers had a chance to win last night’s game at the buzzer after outscoring the Grizzlies 28-18 in the fourth quarter but comeback fell short and they lost 106-104 to the Grizzlies.
The Thunder are 6-6 on the year and coming off a 127-125 victory against the Chicago Bulls in which Chicago blew a 22-point lead. In the 4th quarter, the Thunder were down 10 points with 1:56 left in regulation. They ended up winning the game in overtime.
The second leg of a back-to-back for the Sixers without Joel Embiid never sounds good. They are now playing a Thunder team that has three of their six wins on the season when they are down in a game by 20 or more points. The Thunder are scrappy and resilient and the Sixers will need to take care of the ball and control the pace of game in order to split their weekend road trip.
The 76ers turned the ball over 22 times vs the Grizzlies last night in what turned out to be yet another sloppy game without Joel Embiid. The Thunder earned 33 points after forcing 24 turnovers against the Chicago Bulls in their 127-125 overtime victory on Friday. OKC’s Lu Dort had a career-high six steals to go along with 21 points. As well as Shake Milton played offensively last night, he committed seven turnovers. Simmons and Harris added a combined 12 turnovers. The Sixers will not win games without Embiid when they are turning over the ball at such a high rate.
Ben Simmons Shooting
Anytime that Ben Simmons doesn’t put up big time scoring numbers, the media and social media will have a field day criticizing his play. Simmons has been brutal offensively over the past few weeks but at the very least, last night we saw Ben Simmons attempt two three-pointers and knock down a beautiful mid-range jumper. Although the offensive isn’t quite there yet for Simmons, it’s important that he continues to work through it and take shoot the open shots. Even though Simmons only scored 11 points last night, he was an assist away from his 31st triple double of his career. Simmons had 16 rebounds and 9 assists.
Free Throws (Dwight Howard)
It’s always the small details that will lose you basketball games. If the Sixers limited their turnovers and Dwight Howard knocked down a few more free throws, the Sixers could have left Memphis last night with a victory. Howard was 2-7 on the night from the foul line. Although he put up 8 points, grabbed 18 rebounds, and blocked three shots, without Joel Embiid, the Sixers need Howard to contribute from the foul line. It’s tough to ask a big man like Howard to do so and his misses seem more glaring given the fact that Embiid is tremendous from the line, but Howard cannot allow missed free throws be the reason the Sixers lose basketball games. Tonight, the Thunder will be without Al Horford so the Sixers will have a good chance at controlling the paint.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort
SGA is coming off a career-high game vs the Bulls in which he scored 33-points, mounting the fourth quarter comeback for the Thunder. He can score multiple ways and is a crafty finisher around the rim. SGA also had 10 assists in the game. Slowing down SGA will certainly make the Sixers chances of winning tonight much easier.
When he’s at this best, Lu Dort has proved to be deadly along the perimeter for the Thunder. On Friday, Dort shot 4-11 from three point range. His willingness to shoot the long ball should be something that the Sixers should identify early on tonight and limit Dort’s ability to get in a groove offensively.
The Thunder are a team that tend to fall behind early. This year they have three of their six wins coming back from 20-point deficits. The Sixers need to limit turnovers and control the pace throughout the game in order to split their weekend road trip. I think they get it done tonight and clean up their turnover issues. Shake Milton and Tyrese Maxey continue their strong play, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris take control of the team without Joel Embiid and the Sixers win (spread is currently Sixers -2.5).
Mandatory Credit: The Philadelphia Inquirer