Short-Handed Sixers Stop the Bleeding with Double-Digit Road Win Over Nuggets

Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers are back in the win column.

Thus ends the five-game losing streak that threatened to pull “Phila” back down to .500, after a hot start in which they went 8-2 and topped the Eastern Conference. With Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, and Isaiah Joe entering COVID protocols, the prolonged absence of Ben Simmons, and the injury to Danny Green, they just didn’t have enough oomph to keep the high level of play going.

So what changed on Thursday night in Denver? What worked well?

A few things:

  1. They shot the ball well. 50.6% in this game, back in the range they were shooting when they got out to the 8-2 start.
  2. Seth Curry found his groove. 20 points in this game on 8-18 shooting. It was his first 20 point game since November 4th.
  3. Tyrese Maxey continues to roll. 22 points on 9-15 shooting. He is the Sixers’ third-leading scorer with 17.8 PPG.
  4. Charles Bassey provided some great minutes off the bench. The rookie second-round draft pick was a +20 in 19 minutes, shot 5-7 from the floor, blocked three shots, and grabbed seven rebounds.
  5. A good defensive effort combined with sad Nugget shooting. Denver finished just 32-89 from the floor, a miserable 36%. They were 18-52 on field goals deemed “uncontested,” which amounts to 34.6%. They couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. They couldn’t throw the damn ball in the ocean from the Atlantic City boardwalk.
  6. Just nine turnovers. They protected the ball.
  7. Michael Malone blew a gasket, got himself tossed from the game, and Denver never regrouped.

Just an eight-man rotation for Doc Rivers on Thursday night. Joe got some garbage minutes off the bench but it was a trio of Bassey, Shake Milton, and the recently-ice cold Furkan Korkmaz who got the job done spelling the starting unit of Maxey, Curry, Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond, and Georges Niang.

Let’s focus a bit on Bassey, since we haven’t seen much of him this year:

That’s some fantastic rolling and rebounding. Great job attacking the offensive glass and knowing when to roll hard off those screens. The second bucket, with that assertive roll and Euro step off the catch? You see his teammates come flying off the bench to cheer for him. That’s great stuff from a first-year player.

I’ll give you some defensive clips, too:

On the first sequence there, he appears to get away with one. Ball looks to have hit the backboard before he got a hand on it.

But the second and third clips show pretty good pick and roll defense. He gets a clean block in sequence two, then the third play he’s dropping and swipes Will Barton before ending the play with another block. That’s good commitment to finish off the possession.

It’s been a little rough watching the Sixers without Embiid, and whatever other starter(s) is/are currently out for the game. But the nice thing is that it looks like they’ve drafted and developed well. Maxey, Bassey, Thybulle, etc. Shake Milton looks like himself again. Bassey showed some flashes last night. And the Drummond and Niang signings were great budget deals.

They just need to get healthy, get assets back for Ben Simmons, and start stacking wins ahead of the playoffs.