Short-Handed Sixers Handle Thunder With Ease, 117-93.
Two nights ago, the Sixers had one of their worst team games of the season in a loss to the Pelicans. Joel Embiid shot five of sixteen from the field, Seth Curry didn’t make a single shot in nine attempts, and Sixers fans had to suffer through multiple minutes of Mike Scott attempting to guard Zion Williamson unsuccessfully.
Tonight, the Sixers rolled into Oklahoma City to take on a lack-luster Thunder team. Prior to tip the Sixers announced that both Danny Green and Tobias Harris would take the night off to treat soreness. I imagine the injury designations were just there instead of straight up saying the two were taking the second night of a back-to-back off. Luckily Embiid and Simmons got back into form, and got some great help from a roleplayer thrust into the starting lineup.
This game wasn’t close. Right from the jump the Sixers sprinted out to a 6-0 lead and never trailed the entire game. The entire second half the Sixers juggled a comfortable twenty-point lead that the Thunder couldn’t erase. Ben Simmons brought the energy quick and early with a ten-point first quarter. What really stood out from Ben’s game tonight was his jump shot. Yes, two of Ben Simmons’ buckets in the first half were pull-up shots outside the block and at the elbow. With Harris and Green out, a ton of shots were left up for grabs, and it seemed like Simmons took that as an opportunity to experiment with some midrange jumpers. If he can continue to stay aggressive and not be afraid to fall back on that shot when defenders give him the space, this could seriously elevate his game.
Simmons wasn’t the only Sixer with a stellar first half. Joel Embiid hot off one of his worst games of the season got to work early against the Thunder. Matched up against his former teammate in Tony Bradley Embiid finished the first half with twenty-one points with seven of those coming from the line. With this twenty-one-point first half, Embiid now has twelve twenty-point first half games. That’s tied for best in the league alongside Luka Doncic. Embiid would go on to finish with twenty-seven points, nine boards and four blocks.
With Danny Green and Tobias Harris out, Doc Rivers started Furkan Korkmaz and Matisse Thybulle in their place. Thybulle was his usual elite defenseman, recording three steals and two blocks in his time on the court. Despite that defensive performance, it was Korkmaz who stole the show tonight. Not only did Kork score a season-high twenty points, but he also led all Sixers with a career-high five steals.
With the race for the top seed in the East still neck and neck between the Sixers and the Nets, Philly needed to take easy wins against underwhelming teams like the Thunder. After a piss-poor loss to the Pelicans the night before, where the team looked drained and out of it, the Sixers looked sharper than ever. Even with two of the five starters taking the night off, it was the Sixers two superstars and Furkan Korkmaz’s career night that propelled Philly to an easy win. The Sixers will get an off day today, before four straight games on national TV starting with the Mavericks on Monday.
Mandatory Credit: NBC Sports Philadelphia, Ky Carlin.