The Sixers completely dismantled the Utah Jazz last night
The Philadelphia 76ers ended the first half of the 2020-21 NBA season last night against the Utah Jazz. They defeated the number one seed in the Western Conference 131-123. The Sixers now head into the All-Star break sitting atop of the Eastern Conference with a record 24-12 and a half game lead on the Brooklyn Nets. The NBA-leading Jazz controlled most of the game last night, but found themselves heading to overtime after Joel Embiid hit a game-tying three pointer with 6.5 seconds left in regulation.
In overtime, Tobias Harris, who missed the last few games due to an ankle injury, scored four straight baskets for the Sixers to put them in front the remainder of the game. With 57 seconds left in the game, Joel Embiid drew a foul inside on Jazz center / fraud Rudy Gobert. Donovan Mitchell was assessed with a technical after showing his displeasure with the refs about the call. In classic Embiid fashion, he signaled to the refs to give Mitchell a tech for his childish behavior on the court. The refs responded by doing just that.
On the next possession, Mitchell missed two shots, the first of which, Gobert rebounded to keep possession for the Jazz. Mitchell, with zero court awareness, kept pleading his case to the officials, seemingly unaware that Gobert pulled in his missed shot, and was assessed another technical. Mitchell was then ejected from the game and stormed off the court, knocking over a water cooler in a fit of rage as headed into the locker room.
Embiid finished the game with 40 points, 19 rebounds, four assists, a steal, and two blocks. It was his fifth 40-point game of the season, which leads the entire NBA. Tobias Harris, doing most of his work in overtime, finished the game with 22 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block. Ben Simmons, who has been playing the best basketball of his career over the last 30+ days, finished with 17 points, four rebounds, and six assists. Seth Curry (14), Dwight Howard (12), and Shake Milton (12) all finished in double figures.
After the game, we witnessed a monumental breakdown from the Utah Jazz. Donovan Mitchell’s post game was something that you would typically not see from a leader on a first place team in the NBA.
“Now, I’m never ever one to blame a ref, to blame an official — I can say I could have done more — but this is getting out of hand. There have been games like this that we’ve won; there have been games like this that we’ve lost. But this whole refereeing stuff. … We’re nice, we don’t complain, like, we don’t get frustrated, we fight through things, and the fact that we continually get … screwed, in a way, by this. You know?”
“We won this game, in my personal opinion. You know?” Mitchell continued. “But like I said, I’m going to give them credit. They won. Whatever. Cool. But it’s been a consistent thing, and the question is, ‘Can we do it? Can we sustain it? Are we for real No. 1? And, yeah, the hell we are. And it’s getting f—ing ridiculous that this is what is happening.”
The Jazz, who let the game slip away, committed seven more fouls than the Sixers and got dominated from the foul line. The Sixers shot 27 for 35 from the free throw line while the Jazz shot just 14 for 19. Two time Defensive Player of the Year winner Rudy Gobert wasn’t happy either.
“Our guys are not able to get calls everybody else in the f—ing league gets,” Gobert said. “We know we are the Utah Jazz, and maybe some people don’t want to see us go as far as we can go, but it’s disappointing.”
“I think it’s disrespectful, to be honest, to the game of basketball and to our team, and hopefully, they’re going to watch the game when they get home,” Gobert added. “Hopefully, they feel ashamed when they watch the game.”
Rudy Gobert suggested that the Utah Jazz do not get the same type of treatment from the officials due to the fact they are a “small market team” which is just as ridiculous as it sounds. There is no doubt that NBA officiating struggles at times, but that was certainly not the reason that the Jazz lost in embarrassing fashion last night.
Instead of focusing on the officials, consider this:
- Donovan Mitchell shot 12-34 from the floor.
- Donovan Mitchell is now 2-6 against Ben Simmons
- Donovan Mitchell is shooting 69-195 (35.4%) when guarded by Ben Simmons
- 2x DPOY Rudy Gobert allowed Joel Embiid to score 40 points and pull in 19 rebounds.
- Donovan Mitchell lost his temper and was ejected from the game in overtime.
- Donovan Mitchell finished the game shooting 0-10 (0.0%) from the floor.
The Utah Jazz can blame officiating all they want, but the fact of the matter is that the Sixers won the game last night and dismantled the Jazz both physically and mentally. This isn’t the first time either. With his two technicals last night, Donovan Mitchell now has three career technicals, thanks to Joel Embiid and the Sixers. Of course, we all remember his “campaign” against Ben Simmons when they were both rookies.
The Utah Jazz head into the All-Star break still atop of the Western Conference. Mitchell and Gobert can blast officiating all they want, but the fact of the matter is that the Sixers are an elite team that beat them physically and mentally last night. For the Sixers, last night was a statement win. They enter the break with a half-game lead on the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference and have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons playing the best basketball of their careers. After the game, a confident Embiid addressed the media and the reports that he is “scared” to play games against “elite” centers.
Of course, those reports are created for the sole purpose of clicks and driving a “spicy” narrative surrounding the Sixers. The typically reliable Keith Pompey knew exactly what he was doing when he wrote that report a few weeks back. Luckily for the Sixers and fans alike, those types of narratives that once could be considered credible, no longer can be. The first half the Sixers season squashed any concerns about Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris. Twitter accounts and media outlets that say otherwise should be held accountable. The blogs and podcasts that said the Sixers are “no better than a 6th or 7th seed” should be too.
The playoffs are a given. The Sixers will return from the All-Star break looking to keep pace with the Brooklyn Nets. Even if they don’t hold on to the top seed moving forward, the Sixers have unquestionably put themselves on track for home-court advantage early in the playoffs. There will likely be some roster moves before the trade deadline to sure-up an inconsistent bench, but the days of bringing in star players or significantly shaking up the lineup are over. When healthy, the Sixers are undeniably one, if not the best team in the NBA.
- 24-12 overall.
- 23-7 with Embiid playing.
- 19-4 with Simmons, Embiid, and Harris playing.
- 16-3 with their starting five playing.
Joel Embiid is the MVP-frontrunner and an All-Star, Ben Simmons is the Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner and an All-Star. Tobias Harris has progressed into the third star on the Sixers. and Doc Rivers will be coaching in the NBA All-Star game. The Sixers are arguably the best team in the NBA and the best has yet to come. After the break, fans will be able to return to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia in limited capacity.
The Sixers exceeded all expectations during the first half of the season. Dismantling the Utah Jazz was just icing on the cake.
Mandatory Credit: The Philadelphia Inquirer