The 76ers’ bench, an unsung hero in big wins for Philly
In wake of the 76ers handing the Warriors just their fifth loss of the season on Saturday night, there are plenty of takeaways to look at.
While many rightly discuss Mattise Thybulle’s impact guarding Steph Curry, I’ll give love to the 76ers’ bench that quietly saved the game for Philly Saturday night. What makes it even sweeter is the fact this it isn’t the first time the rotation guys have been able to give this team a boost against a tough opponent this season.
Much of Saturday’s matchup against Golden State was back-and-forth. Heading into halftime, the Warriors only led by three. An early surge by Golden State and the starters inability to get anything going offensively quickly expanded Golden State’s lead to ten with three minutes remaining in the third.
Why tell you all of this? Because that’s when Doc Rivers gave the starters some rest, telling the 76ers bench to step up and give them a shot to win in the fourth. For the next six minutes, a lineup comprised of Shake Milton, Furkan Korkmaz, Danny Green, Georges Niang, and Andre Drummond not only stifled a great Warriors offense that began to heat up, but brought the 76ers back into the contest.
The 76ers bench even grabbed the lead a couple times in the fourth. It wasn’t just one guy in the bench rotation, but a team effort to not let the contest slip away. With a Matisse Thybulle dagger from deep with just under ten minutes in the fourth, a rotation of majority bench players went on a 20-7 run that gave Philly an 81-78 lead. In that near six minute window, Milton and Drummond each put up five, with Niang and Korkmaz each canning a triple. All while holding the Warriors to just two-of-ten shooting.
This isn’t the first time this season the 76ers bench has been able to pick up the slack with the starters struggling in big games. Back in early November, the 76ers were on the road against the Bulls in the middle of a stretch that saw Philly playing six games in eight days. The starters had struggled to get any offense going, and the Sixers bench came in and stepped up big time. That game saw Niang score 12 off the bench in expanded minutes. Korkmaz took over and dropped 25 points off the 76ers bench, shooting an insane 7-of-9 from deep, giving Philly their second win over the current second-best team in the East.
Listen, I’m not saying that the 76ers bench is the only reason Philly is going to win big games. With this current team, it is certainly more important for the starters to come up big, especially Embiid. However, there’s not enough people discussing the impact some of these 76ers role players have in big wins. Saturday night against the Warriors was another prime example of that, and I am positive it won’t be the final one once the regular season is all said and done.
Mandatory Credit: Chris Szagola.