Sixers Scrape By Brooklyn in Battle for First Place
Saturday night, the Nets and Sixers faced off at the Wells Fargo Center, with Philadelphia coming out victorious by a score of 123-117.
What once promised to be a clash of the titans, between the two top teams in the eastern conference, didn't quite turn out that way. Brooklyn sat out their pair of superstars, James Harden and Kevin Durant, and veteran big men LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin got the night off as well. So they *only* had one star to turn to. The Sixers had no one listed out, so they were expected by many to win pretty handily.
They played pretty well through three quarters and held a 22-point lead with just over 8 minutes left. But then the wheels fell off. A Furkan Korkmaz made three with 8:21 remaining in the game would be the last field goal they made for the entire game. The offense completely fell apart, and the lead was shrunk to 3 a couple of times, but they pulled it out with solid free throw shooting down the stretch
Joel Embiid had another MVP-caliber statline, and clearly was nowhere near as good as he could have been. His 39 points and 13 rebounds were the driving force behind the Sixers win. Tobias Harris had another impressive game, but appeared to be a little hobbled toward the end of the game, and sat out for most of the fourth quarter. He scored a very efficient 26 points. Ben Simmons gave the team 17 points and 9 assists and made a number of great defensive plays all night long.
Kyrie Irving was the Nets' star performer tonight and wound up with 37 points and 9 assists on 13/22 FG. The Nets were only 4/21 from three, compared to 13/28 for Philadelphia. And when you couple that with missing two extraordinary offensive talents in Durant and Harden, the game wound a lot closer than it probably should have.
With the win, the Sixers will move to 38-17 and are now perched on top of the eastern conference standings. Brooklyn will fall to 37-18 and now sit one game back of Philadelphia. Another result of this win was that the Sixers took the three-game regular-season series against the Nets, 2-1. What this means is that now the Sixers hold the tiebreaker, and that may come out to be pretty important as we draw closer to the postseason, as the two teams have been right next to each other in the standings all season long. The Sixers will look ahead to their next matchup at home against the LA Clippers on Friday.