We now live in a world where the Sixers go on the road and just clobber lesser teams on the second night of a back-to-back.
And when I say “clobber,” I mean total obliteration. They come out with their foot on the gas and never let up, to the point where you look up at the clock, see two minutes remaining in the third quarter, and say to yourself, “alright, it’s time to get Furkan Korkmaz in the game.”
My wife had box tickets to the Flyers/Rangers game last night, so we went down to the Wells Fargo Center and I watched the Sixers on the small TV in the suite. I was that guy. I was the guy ignoring the Flyers and watching another team play instead. Anthony has the Flyers covered anyway, so it’s all good.
But every 15 or 20 minutes, my wife would lean over and ask, “how are the Sixers doing?”
“Oh hey babe, they’re up by 12.”
How are the Sixers doing?
“Hey, they’re winning by 20.”
How are the Sixers doing?
“Lemme see.. I think they’re up like 30 or 32 right now.”
They were cruising, just having fun out there.
It’s really crazy to witness, and for some weird reason last night, I felt like we experienced a Sixer turning point, but not necessarily because they were playing really well and dunking all over the place. It was more about seeing just how shitty Orlando was (and Memphis, too), and understanding that the Sixers were the Magic and Grizzlies not long ago. It’s one thing to take this team’s quality at face value, to see it in a vacuum, but you realize how much upside and potential they really have when you compare them to the dregs of the National Basketball Association.
In a way, it was like seeing the 2018 Sixers play the 2015 Sixers last night. You know what I mean? It was like the ghost of Sixers present vs. the ghost of Sixers past, and that on-court juxtaposition of excellence vs. atrocity made the contrast so easy to recognize.
If I have to pick a play that sums up how absurd this game was, it’s Joel Embiid grabbing an offensive rebound, dribbling out to the three-point line, then giving us a Steph Curry:
Embiid just went Steph Curry and ran off the tv screen before the ball got to the rim lol pic.twitter.com/tEERmciAka
— Ballbonic Plague™ (@World_Wide_Wob) March 23, 2018
All night long it was easy play after easy play, as the Magic defended the paint like a matador performing for a crowd of 20,000 in Zaragoza.
GET OUT THE WAY pic.twitter.com/JYx06YKlXs
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) March 22, 2018
Brett Brown’s team improves to 41-30, resulting in a magic number of one with 11 games yet to play. They’ve got Minnesota at home on Saturday before hosting Denver on Monday and New York on Wednesday. Fans get to spend the rest of the regular season watching an enjoyable seeding shuffle before the playoffs start. It’s a nice change after five years of slop, where the spring focus was on ping pong balls instead of basketballs.
Thing is, since the Sixers killed the Magic last night, there’s really not much to actually break down about the game, so just some quick notes and bullet points:
15 points on 5-12 shooting, 3-7 from downtown.
He’s shooting much better in the month of March, hitting at 48.2% from the field and 44.2% from three. In February, he slumped to marks of 34.5 and 29.4, respectively. It was 38% and 34% in January, so he’s really turned it around in the last 8 to 12 games. He doesn’t need to score 15 a game for the Sixers to be successful, but when he’s hitting, it takes some of the stress off the rest of the starters.
It certainly helps your back-to-back approach when you can throw Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli on the court for 20 minutes each.
Ersan went for 18 last night while Marco added 15, and Brown was able to keep his entire starting unit under 30 minutes for the second straight game.
Remember how Joel Embiid missed a chunk of games after playing 49 minutes in the triple overtime loss to OKC? Well, they only needed 20 from last night and 20 on Wednesday in a pair of easy wins. Now you’ve got him in good shape for three straight home games before you have to fly to Atlanta next Thursday.
16 last night, 14 on Wednesday.
Yea, they’re having fun and throwing some “playmaker” type passes in lopsided games, but there were some moments in each win where they got a bit loose on the offensive end and Brett called some timeouts to reel it in.
For what it’s worth, they did get the season average down to 16.9, which is still worst in the NBA but better than being in the 17-18 range, which is where they’ve lived for much of the season. If Embiid and Simmons cut their numbers by just 1 turnover per game, they would move all the way up to 22nd in the league. It’s not great, but it’s serviceable.
I like his game.
Even going back to the very first action at the Palestra in the fall, I just felt like he had this… it’s not aggressiveness I don’t think, but there’s an air of assertiveness to his game. He shows confidence taking shots and throwing nutmeg passes:
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) March 23, 2018
Defensively, he’s got a long way to go, and Brett Brown will drill him into becoming better with his feet on that end of the floor. He could use some bulk on that slender frame, too. It would be nice for the Sixers to continue to get him some run if they’re blowing out crappy teams in April.
Most importantly, the Sixers don’t seem to be playing down to the level of their competition anymore. I don’t know how much that has to do with the team’s growth compared to how much dead-in-the-water teams simply don’t care anymore, but whatever the case, it’s only a positive for your team, your town, your 76ers.