You’re going to win games when you shoot 50% from three.
It wasn’t always smooth on Monday night, but the Sixers jumped all over a tired team early, built up a huge lead, then got enough stops down the stretch to halt a couple of Utah runs and win by a comfortable nine-point margin.
They beat a good pick and roll team without their best pick and roll defender, Josh Richardson, who missed a third straight game with hamstring tightness. Matisse Thybulle stepped up in his absence while Tobias Harris and Al Horford paced the starters and helped the Sixers improve to 10-0 at home.
Gotta stack those Ws early if you want the #1 or #2 seed come playoff time, and winning eight of nine dating back two weeks now is a good way to get back on track.
Matisse Thybulle, coming into his own
13 points and three steals in a career-high 26 minutes of playing time.
He really looks like he’s settling into the NBA game and understanding his role on this squad, which is rather simple – play defense, hit a couple of three pointers, and bring some energy off the bench. Matisse is doing it while playing with more control and evolving from the slightly overzealous rookie we saw earlier in the year.
Said Brett Brown:
In general, I thought he played tamer and I thought that he took the shots that he should have shot… his shots. He made some defensive plays that were timely and it’s a real benefit to see how much ground he covers. He can get his fingernails on passes. It was one of those games for him.
I think that the shots that he’s taking are in his wheelhouse and he’s becoming a responsible defensive player. There is an interesting young athlete to be grown.
Thybulle was 3-3 from three last night, with each of those shots clipped below:
That’s Robert Covington stuff there – catch and shoot three pointers, transition movement, and a deflection leading to a break out.
What’s especially nice is that he’s hitting from the corners, which is where the Sixers could really use somebody to help space the floor in a half court offense that features some overlapping and redundant skills sets (Embiid/Simmons/Horford). Matisse is shooting better from the corners than above the break this year in a small sample size of shots:
Something to keep an eye on. Growing a corner three-point shooter would really help this team.
Al Horford, finding himself
Are the Sixers using Al Horford correctly? Maybe, maybe not, but he’s a veteran and he’ll find his spots in this offense.
Last night he put up a 17/4/5 line shooting 6-12 from the floor and 3-3 from three. He did a variety of things well, from offensive rebounding to posting up inside. He knocked down a trailing three and hit another catch-and-shoot bomb during his hot start.
There’s also been more PNR and PNP looks:
I do believe, for me, some of the things I do well is off the pick-and-pop or pick-and-roll and coach is making a conscious effort of implementing that in the offense. He’s putting me in positions to play in that and attack the defense that way, so I just need to find myself and the rest of the guys. We need to continue to get comfortable with one and other and understand what we’re trying to get out of those pick-and-roll situations. We’re reading and we’re doing a good job of that.
Horford had nice moments as a stretch five last night, which helped move Rudy Gobert out of the paint and make him a little more uncomfortable on the perimeter. This isn’t dissimilar from what the Celtics did to Embiid in past years, and I strung together a few possessions for you:
Play 1: collapse and kick for a catch and shoot three
Play 2: no dice on the interior
Play 3: space him out to the perimeter, try the jump shot instead
Some good and some not so good, but the nice thing is that Brett has options with his bigs here, ways to operate with Horford as a “small” five who can do a bit more in space than Joel Embiid. You’re just hitting the toggle button here, staggering minutes, and showing two different looks to the NBA’s best defensive big.
Here’s how the matchups played out via tracking data. Horford shot 50% on four shots when guarded by Gobert, while Embiid was 2-7. You can click on this image to enlarge:
Donovan Mitchell had a fan tossed last night.
On Reddit, this guy claims it was him:
Pretty good, if true. I’ll venture over to R/NBA and see what that thread says. It feels to me like the Ben Simmons/Donovan Mitchell beef died down last year, but the fans are apparently still feeling it. They’re a little saucy.
- Mitchell had 18 points on 19 shots. Poor night for him.
- Brett Brown picked up his third technical foul in three games, this time telling the refs that they’ve had a “long night” after arguing a no-call for basket interference in the second quarter.
- Mike Scott broke his slump with a 1-2 three point night (1-4 overall), which wasn’t fantastic, but he had gone three games without hitting a three pointer.
- Furkan Korkmaz was 2-6 and should probably cede minutes to Thybulle when Richardson comes back.
- Not an amazing shooting night for James Ennis (2-10), but he grabbed five boards and ripped off two steals, hit a couple of threes.
- Utah shot 22% from three.