Nice win for the Sixers, their first on the road and certainly the best W of the season.

They’ve now played each of the other top five Eastern Conference teams on the road, and while this only improves them to 1-3 against those squads, they’re off the mark, so to speak, with a bit of momentum now going into a weekend of winnable games against Charlotte and Memphis.

What changed last night?

  • turnovers – just 16 on the evening, back down to their season average after a 27-turnover game on Sunday
  • personal fouls – committed just 17, the second lowest number on the year
  • blocks – 8 total, second highest number on the year
  • steals – 8 total, their third highest number on the year
  • 91.3 defensive rating – 2nd best number of the year

That’s pretty much the story.

It was a low-scoring, grinder of a game and the Sixers limited Indiana to 39% field goal shooting and a 26% three-point mark. Philly got out in transition to the tune of 19 points and got some nice contributions from non-star players as they snapped an eight-game losing skid at Bankers Life Fieldhouse dating back to the 2012-2013 season.

Dario Saric

It always works out this way, doesn’t it?

You take the time to write a story called “Dario Saric’s Slow Start is Killing the Sixers,” then he goes out and has his best game of the year.

Dario went for 18 points and 7 rebounds, shooting 46% on the night and hitting four of his six three point attempts while also turning the ball over just once.

This three-pointer stood out to me the most:

I love how he steps into that, and it’s the reason Brett Brown installed the “four point line” on the practice floors at the Sixers’ Camden facility.

The idea of the four point line is that Brown prefers having his guys a few feet off the arc, because if you move your starting point back instead of “hugging” the line, you can step forward into your shot, which Dario does with a lot of confidence in that clip.

This is what it would look like if you drew the line on the Pacers’ floor:

Good starting point, catch, step, three pointer. Dario had been front-rimming a lot of his shots this season, but he definitely got his legs into this one.

His 18 points and 7 rebounds both eclipse last year’s season averages, when he went for 14.6 and 6.7 overall. He was the third-best scorer on the team behind JJ Redick and Joel Embiid, and he really is a key to their success, even if he’s not considered to be one of the stars on the squad. Defensively, Dario is still a liability with his limited athleticism and inability to switch with the efficiency of the rest of the starting unit, but his shooting and rebounding is a part of what made the Sixers successful last year.

Rookie contribution

An 0-7 three-point shooting night for JJ Redick would normally be a killer, but he somehow managed to get to the line a bunch of times and hit a couple of two-pointers to chip in 10 points on the evening.

Leading the bench contribution was rookie Landry Shamet, who poured in 12 points on 4-8 shooting and went 3-6 from downtown.

I like his game. I really do. He just moves very well without the ball and does a lot of things that Redick does, specifically in the way he curls off of screens and works with bigs in the dribble hand-off game.

So let me show you a clip of a shot that he actually misses, just because I like the technique and the assertiveness in the half court:

Miss, but no worries.

That’s bread and butter DHO coming out of the Sixers’ base motion offense. They get Redick involved in those hand-offs a bunch of times in every game, and Shamet similarly works it pretty well coming around Embiid as a the hand-off guy and screen setter.

When I go over to practice in Camden, Redick and Shamet are usually the two guys who remain on the floor the longest, just shooting shots and working with coaches. Apparently they’ve been spending a bunch of time together and you can see Redick’s influence starting to rub off on Landry, because he’s shown a lot of confidence to seek his shot and do it within the framework of the Sixers’ offense.

Ben and Markelle

Here’s their combined shot chart.

They went 10 for 16 inside the paint and 0-3 outside the paint:

Markelle hit that jumper around the elbow.

Again you see redundancy in their shooting, with neither player willing to consistently attempt anything outside of eight feet. Ben, however, had a really nice game pushing the ball in transition, and Markelle came up with four steals, two that led to easy breakout dunks, another giving them a three point attempt in transition, and the fourth providing another offensive possession after swiping an Indiana rebound from Myles Turner.

Ben had 16, 10, and 8 with just one turnover, so this was a really nice bounce-back for him after Sunday’s clunker in Brooklyn. We still have very little to work with, however, in the department of “can Ben and Markelle play together successfully?”

Other notes:

  • they have some trouble on those entry passes to Ben Simmons when Markelle Fultz is standing in the strong-side corner
  • Wilson Chandler played 15:22 last night and got his first bucket on a bullish drive into the lane while guarded by Bojan Bogdanovic. He had two points on 1-3 shooting and added 5 rebounds.
  • Amir Johnson isn’t giving the Sixers much off the bench. Two turnovers, two points, two fouls, two rebounds last night.
  • Robert Covington finished +18 on the night and hit some big second half shots, particular the pair of late third-quarter three pointers that extended the lead to eight points
  • 20 and 10 for Joel last night on 7-16 shooting and a 5-6 foul line mark. He did have 5 turnovers and probably could have done a better job passing out of the double team and working against mismatches, but definitely better than his performance from Sunday.
  • I’m a big fan of any set play where JJ Redick is the screener