Stop the presses.

The Sixers won a road game, and they did it without Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Josh Richardson. The road losing streak comes to an end at nine games.

It was fun to watch, wasn’t it? We saw a lot of the same small ball and five-out possessions we saw in Los Angeles, only this time the Sixers didn’t have to deal with Anthony Davis and LeBron James on the defensive end. They held up much better against a smaller Kings team that wasn’t able to capitalize on the Philly’s lack of interior presence.

The result was a more open game, where the Sixers were able to turn the Kings over, hammer them on the offensive glass, and ultimately muster 17 more field goals, winning the total attempts battle by a whopping 96-79 margin. They used that volume advantage to fire up 37 three pointers, hitting 17 in the process, and using their effective perimeter shooting to kill off myriad Sacramento runs.

And this guy played his best game in a long time:

Al Horford

18 points on 7-14 shooting, eight rebounds, and six assists. He was a whopping +41 and got to “ring that bell brother,” after the game.

In a lot of ways, this was the Horford we thought we’d see throughout the season. He picked out the right passes, set good screens, and just glued together the parts around him both offensively and defensively.

A lot of what Brett is doing while missing three starters is just simplifying the offense, spreading the floor with Mike Scott at the five and then playing through Horford at the elbow on a number of possessions where he’s on the floor. Here you see simple decisions from Al leading to assists:

Brett likes that elbow entry, usually in a horns set, but they’ve also been playing the high elbow on the strong side and then running those pin down screens on the weak side. It looks more like the motion offense they ran last year and the year prior.

Here’s a still frame illustrating that:

Enter the elbow with Horford, then Shake Milton can screen for Korkmaz, take a hand-off, or do any number of things. On the weak side, you’ve got the pin down screen from Mike Scott, who can free up the wing for a catch and shoot three, or cut to the basket. Elbow basketball is fun because you run a ton of different actions from it and typically play both sides of the floor because your starting point is only a foot or two off the nail.

Horford shot 2-6 from three but seemed a little more assertive on the perimeter. He also got his low block touches and looked for his short jump hook and some baseline jumpers as well. It seemed like he was playing more “within himself,” if that makes any sense.

Maybe Horford’s best stretch came around 3:30 in the fourth, where he had the dunk on the offensive end, held his feet and contested a shot at the rim on the defensive end, and then came right back down and grabbed an offensive board on the next possession. Philly came out of that three-play stretch with a 10-point lead and 2:21 on the clock as Sacramento went into a three-minute long scoreless drought.

Offensive boards

To grab 14 offensive boards while playing without Embiid and Simmons seems rather crazy, but the Sixers did great in this department last night, benefiting from some long three-pointer rebounds while also sneaking inside as well. That resulted in 13 second chance points, which essentially wiped out the points Sacramento was able to score in transition.

Brett played 10 guys last night and six of them had an offensive rebound:

Look at Mike Scott busting his ass on a number of those plays. They were hustling, tipping balls out to the perimeter, and weaseling their way into good weak side spots in anticipation. It was an offensive rebounding effort that would have made Bob Huggins proud.

Other notes

  • Tobias Harris shot 50% in a 28 point effort, and if you took his boosted over number you won a decent chunk of cash. Tobias’ best shot of the night was that tough pull-up baseline jumper to end Sacramento’s 16-2 run with about four minutes remaining in the game.
  • Shake Milton had 20 points on 8-14 shooting, a nice bounce back game after putting up a quiet 12 against the Lakers and having to deal with Avery Bradley’s defense. Shake continues to play a smart game and his head has not ballooned since having the big night against the Clippers. Sometimes guys have those break out games and then hit the floor the next time out and chuck up 30 shots, but Milton hasn’t been doing that at all. He’s been playing a grounded game.
  • 2:36 of playing time for Norvel Pelle and a DNP-CD for Kyle O’Quinn. It’s a combination of Brett loving small/pace and space basketball and not trusting either center behind Horford and Embiid..
  • Alec Burks doesn’t really do much besides shoot the basketball, but it was something this team was missing, i.e. a guy with a one-track mind for scoring. He was 6-12 with 17 points.
  • Nemanja Bjelica is shooting 43% from three this year and would look really nice as a power forward on a Brett Brown team, but doesn’t he look like one of the least athletic guys in the entire NBA? Looks more like a YMCA guy who comes in and jogs up and down the floor and just destroys you from the perimeter.

We’ve made it to Friday. Enjoy your weekend.