The Philadelphia 76ers. What a team. Sitting atop the Eastern Conference entering the game last night at a record of 15-6 the Sixers are looking like they are legitimate contenders to come out of the East this year. Joel Embiid is playing at an MVP caliber level and the team looked to carry their success from January into the new month. Last night they played against the Charlotte Hornets who were sitting at the 8th seed in the East with a 10-11 record. Both teams came into the game on a 3 game winning streak. Last time the teams met they were in Philadelphia for a back to back with the Sixers winning both contests. Sixers entered the game with their full lineup and the Hornets were without Terry Rozier, who has torched the Sixers in the past.
First quarter saw the Sixers jump out to a double digit lead with Embiid controlling the game early, almost outscoring the Hornets by himself in the quarter with 13 points, 6 rebounds. Sixers won the quarter 30-13. Sixers held them to a 23% shooting with the Hornets shooting an abysmal 5 for 22 from the field. This was probably one of, if not, the best quarter of basketball the Sixers have played as Charlotte's 13 points is the least amount of points they have let up in a quarter this season. The Second quarter saw the game become more of a back and forth contest at the start as the Sixers second unit maintained their double digit lead until the starters returned to the game. Shake Milton provided another nice spark off the bench as he helps improve his Sixth Man of the Year case. The starters pushed the lead up over 20 points with the Hornets struggling immensely to slow Embiid down. Danny Green hit a few threes, Tobias had a few buckets himself and the Sixers ended the quarter up 22 points with a score of 64-22.
Second half started slow for both teams as they combined to only score 7 points in the first three minutes of action. About halfway through the quarter the Hornets made their run and Sixers seemed to be just going through the motions at this point. Hornets started knocking down their threes and played well defensively, forcing Sixers to make some bad turnovers. Charlotte made 6 threes in a 3 minute span and the Sixers saw their 20+ point lead cut down to as little as 7 at one point. Third quarter ended with the teams exchanging buckets and the Sixers took a 13 point lead into the fourth. The Sixers maintained a double digit lead for a majority of the quarter as Tobias scored 13 of his 26 points in the fourth. Everything pointed towards the Sixers winning this game as Danny Green looked like he hit the game clinching 3 with just under 2 minutes left to put the Sixers up 11, but the Hornets didn't go away. Philly pretty much stopped playing as they made bad play after bad play as they seem to lose focus at the end. A pair of threes by LaMelo Ball and Malik Monk cut the Sixers lead to 6 with only 10 seconds left, but that would be the closet it would get. Final score was 118-111 in favor of Philadelphia. Sixers go undefeated on their 3 game road trip and look to continue their winning ways back at the Wells Fargo Center tomorrow against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Embiid 34 PTS | 11 REB | 2 STL
Harris 26 PTS | 6 REB | 4 AST
Green 16 PTS | 2 STL | 2 BLK
Simmons 15 PTS | 6 REB | 9 AST
Milton 13 PTS | 1 REB | 2 AST
Curry 00 PTS | 3 AST | 1 BLK
Sixers 12-0 with their starting lineup
I came into this game expecting the Sixers to handle the Hornets pretty easily especially with Terry Rozier being out. Another part of me though thought that the Sixers would come into this game and play down to their competition, which thankfully, they didn't, for the most part. If you have been a Sixers fan you would understand that in the past, we would struggle in games where we should win comfortably. Luckily for us, it seems like this Sixers team isn't like the ones the past couple years. I attribute this mostly to coaching. Doc Rivers may not be the best coach, but he's pretty darn good. He knows how to handle superstars and he isn't afraid to get on those guys, aka Embiid and Simmons. He is also bringing out the best in Tobias Harris, who is putting up career numbers. Tobias played for Doc in Los Angeles before he was traded to the Sixers. When Tobias was there he was playing his best basketball. Why? Because Doc Rivers and staff knew how to play to Tobias' strengths and they also played him at the 4 position instead of the 3, which is what Tobias was playing under Brett Brown. Bringing in veteran guys like Danny Green and Dwight Howard have really been a positive impact, as well as trading for Seth Curry. Seth hasn't looked that good since he missed some time due to Covid, but I feel that he'll pick it up soon. He had 0 points tonight, but he still finished +18 so he didn't hurt them when he was out there. The Sixers are heading in the right direction and if they can stay healthy I don't see many teams beating them in a 7 game series.