The Philadelphia 76ers (14-11) just wrapped up a nail biter against the shorthanded Charlotte Hornets (14-13) beating them 110-106.
The Sixers make it 3 road wins in a row bringing their away record to 9-6. They are 11-4 with Embiid this season, and 50-15 in the regular season since the start of last season. I think it's fair to say this man needs some help. There were a lot of positives and negatives to take away from this game and I am here to breakdown everything that happened tonight.
Embiid started off the game hitting a few elbow jumpers which looked very smooth. The Hornets defense seemed to switch from man to man, to a 3-2 zone frequently throughout the game. Something interesting about tonight was Tobias Harris in the first quarter. Lately, he hasn't seemed confident in his shot and would tend to hesitate on open 3 point shots. In the first quarter he looked very good. He opened up the first quarter with 8 points on 2 threes and a mid range jumper. Kelly Oubre Jr. who was very hot last game found himself very cold to start off this game. Oubre finished this quarter with 5 points on 2-10 shooting. Joel Embiid was very active on the defensive end getting deflections and contesting on every shot that he could. Embiid's playmaking continues to be stellar as he finds the wide open man when he gets double, or triple teamed. The Sixers bench looked very good in the entire first half. They were able to hold leads, and play good basketball. Something the Sixers need to work on is boxing out. There were too many times in the first quarter where the Sixers looked lackadaisical on defensive rebounds and there were plenty of times where after a Hornet player shoots, they would get the ball right back. Overall a solid first quarter, Sixers just need to tweak a few things that I will get to in the end.
The Sixers bench got the start for the first half of the second quarter and went on to score 18 straight points without a starter. That's something you always love to see especially with how much this bench has struggled in certain games in the past. Andre Drummond did a fantastic job bringing energy and hitting his free throws. Drummond is shooting 81 percent from the field in the past 6 games. His bench presence has been ecstatic this year. It is a big upgrade from Dwight Howard last year. The Sixers have had some of the best ball movement in years with this team being able to run a 5 out offense. Gordon Hayward started to find his groove and never lost it. Embiid had to exit the game after picking up his third foul. Drummond entered the game and brought the energy. He got into a scuffle with Miles Bridges where they both received technical fouls. Miles Bridges athleticism killed the Sixers in this quarter. he would beat anybody off the dribble in the corner and drive in for a shot, or would give it up to someone on the 3 point line. The Sixers went on a turnover stretch coming down the end of the quarter. 5 turnovers on 8 possessions. The Hornets were also getting anything they wanted in the paint, killing the Sixers in points in the paint.
Tyrese Maxey's usage rate has gone down tremendously since Embiid's return. Doc Rivers hasn't been using him much on the offensive end and Sixers fans are very frustrated with that. There was a possession in this quarter where Maxey had ball control. He did what he wanted to do with the ball and finished at the rim, plus a foul. Seth Curry has been a blessing to this Sixers team. He was very hot in this quarter. He was getting to his spots whenever he wanted and couldn't miss. Embiid shot a ton of free throws in this quarter as the Hornets fouled him on consecutive possessions.
The Sixers bench started this quarter holding the lead and playing solid defense. Matisse Thybulle seemed frustrated on the offensive end because he couldn't seem to finish at the rim, or hit a jump shot. Tobias Harris showed his confidence in 2 possessions in this quarter and willed the Sixers back into the game, as he tied it up with a floater. Late game turnovers were killing the Sixers. They had every opportunity to pull away at the end of the game, but the Hornets would capitalize on every mistake they made down the stretch. Embiid led all scorers with 32 points on 8-17 shooting, and hitting 15-19 free throws. Seth Curry ended the game with 23 points on 8-14 shooting.
My Takeaways from tonights game:
All in all, this game shouldn't have been close at all. The Sixers are going against a beaten down Hornets team without their star player, Lamelo Ball and important role players. Some of the decisions that Doc Rivers make for this offense is really questionable sometimes. He continues to play Matisse Thybulle late in games when he is an offensive liability. Isaiah Joe, a good shooter who he has proven himself this season is just sitting on the bench collecting dust. The way he uses Tyrese Maxey on the offensive end is mind blowing. Maxey deserves to get more touches and time with the ball setting up the offense. Maxey has proven himself time and time again that he can contribute to this offense. Joel Embiid shouldn't have to bail this whole team out every single game, this Sixers team should be good enough to blowout a roster like the Hornets. In my opinion, it is time for Daryl Morey to explore trading options with Tobias Harris and Matisse Thybulle. I don't believe that this team we have now is capable enough to win a championship. Making certain moves will put us as championship contenders.
Tune in tomorrow night as the Philadelphia 76ers host the Utah Jazz at 7:00 PM EST.