Five More Takeaways From The Sixers’ Game 2 Domination of the Wizards.
1.) Confident Ben Simmons is Unstoppable for the Sixers
With NBA casuals, the national media, and some questionable Philly media figures calling Ben out for his game one performance, Simmons put on a show nobody could criticize in game two. Wednesday night saw the return of confident Simmons on the offensive side of the ball. With two minutes in the first quarter left, Simmons came out of the game with 12 points on 6-7 shooting from the field. Those buckets included a nice hook shot from six feet out, and Simmons taking advantage of his size on the block in the half court.
After that stellar first Simmons got back to his style of offensive production racking up assists. By the time the fourth quarter started up, Simmons was sitting just one board and two assists short of a playoff triple-double. He’d end the night with 22 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists purely because the Sixers were blowing out the Wizards so bad the starters didn’t need to touch the hardwood in the final quarter. Regardless, Simmons has now strung together two great performances in the post-season. I called him the “X-Factor” for this team’s playoff success, and even if it is against a bad Wizards team, Simmons has been very impressive in that role so far.
2.) Tobias Harris Continues to Fly Under the Radar.
After nobody was talking about about his playoff career high 37 points in game one, Tobias Harris went out and had another stellar shooting night for Philly on Wednesday. While it certainly wasn’t anywhere close to his totals from Sunday, Harris notched 19 points and 9 boards while shooting 69 percent on 13 shots from the field. With Simmons getting his and Joel not dealing with foul trouble, there just wasn’t enough ball to go around for Harris to replicate his game one totals.
Regardless, it is very promising to see that whenever the Sixers need to get a bucket, Harris is proving he’s a guy they can consistently go to in the playoffs. Tobi continues to fall back onto his lethal mid-range, whether it is coming off ball screens or taking advantage of his isolation matchups. Going forward this post-season there will be games where Joel or either of our shooters struggles to score, but knowing we can lean on Harris for an easy bucket will be crucial against fiercer competition.
3.) Matisse Thybulle’s Defense is Other-Worldly.
Thybulle is very well-known by both Philly and now the national media for his defensive ability. We’ve been preaching it throughout the regular season, but his production has gotten purely ridiculous so far in the post-season. In just 20 minutes on the court, ‘Tise recorded four steals and five blocks. For context, he’s the first player in NBA history to record that many blocks and steals in such limited minutes.
Whenever Doc feels the squad needs a defensive boost, Matisse has come in and caused problems for Westbrook and Beal. Get used to watching Thybulle more not only this post-season, but future years as he’s just one decent three-point jump shot away from becoming the next Danny Green.
4.) The Bench Depth on This Squad is Deeper Than Ever Before.
Can you remember the last time you saw the Sixers play their entire active roster in a playoff game? Well it happened on Wednesday. Yes not all of the guys who got minutes were playing meaningful minutes, but there is no denying how deep this team is and it showed in game two. Doc has the luxury of a ton of great rotation guys who can throw so many different looks at opposing teams. Recently his rotations on second unit guys is to put the veterans Hill and Howard out there and fill the other three spots based on what the team needs with the starters out. Howard anchors the young guys while grabbing a ton of boards (he had eleven in game two) while Hill orchestrates the offense.
Game one saw the young bench guys struggle offensively, but wasn’t the case for game two. After a shaky game one Furkan Korkmaz showed off in limited minutes with 13 points while only taking one three. I expect that every game there will be a guy to step up offensively from the bench, because that’s just how deep this squad is.
5.) Maxey Balls Out, Shake Struggles Again.
Many Sixers fans have been calling for Maxey minutes, and this game the young rook showed out again in the blowout. Ten points in just 14 minutes of action ain’t bad, and that was ten more points than Shake had in the same time on the court. Maxey gives the Sixers another look on offense that most teams aren’t expecting. Philly relies heavily on their size and playing inside out through Joel.
When Doc puts Maxey in defenses aren’t ready for his quickness and great ability to cut to the basket for tough layups. Philly fans know what we can get out of Shake, when he’s hot he can take over offensively with a unique ability to score on all three levels in the half court. Problem is he hasn’t gotten hot in either of the Sixers first two playoff games. While I certainly don’t think we should judge Milton harshly off of two games, I do think Maxey deserves more playoff minutes.
Mandatory Credit: NBCS Philadelphia, Philadelphia 76ers, Tim Nwachukwu.