76ers Get Spark Heading Into All Star Game

76ers Get Spark Heading Into All Star Game

phildelphia 76ers first half

Last week, the Philadelphia 76ers dropped a home game to Cleveland, before closing out their four-game home stretch with victories over the Pacers and Jazz. It wasn’t the clean sweep down the stretch we might have hoped for, but it was great to beat the top team in the NBA just before the break.

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How it happened

Last Saturday, the Sixers hosted the Cavs, coming into the game with a little momentum, following a ten-game slide. The Cavs were suddenly getting a lot more from their young team, and their recent form continued against the Sixers. Darius Garland and Collin Sexton combined for 53 points and five steals, outlasting the Sixers in overtime.

Despite Embiid and Simmons combining for 66 points on just 39 shot attempts, no other Sixers player had more than three field goals. Cleveland led by as many as 13, but the Sixers were able to close the lead in the third quarter and down the stretch, ultimately forcing overtime.

The Sixers struggled in the paint (-20), with turnovers (-2), and in rebounding (-4). Even though the Sixers were a little better in shooting, the Sixers really needed a third guy to step it up. It was a worrisome result (especially considering the defensive backcourt), but the loss may have sparked the Sixers in the best way.

A big win against Indiana

On Monday, the Sixers blew the doors off the Indiana Pacers. The best way to describe their victory was that it was a complete effort. Offensively and defensively, the Sixers were active and efficient with both the first team and the second team.

Don’t get me wrong, the first team got the Sixers the lead on most runs. However, Shake Milton (26 points) and Furkan Korkmaz (19 points) kept the lead flowing when the first team was off the court. The big difference here was the shooting. The Sixers shot 57% from the field and 43% from deep. With how solid Philadelphia’s defense and shot contesting was through three quarters, the Sixers were able to cruise into the fourth quarter, up 28. The win was a glimpse of what the best version of the Sixers are. You want them to have a free-flowing offense not too dependent or taxing on the guys like Embiid and Simmons.

Ending the 1st half on a strong note

Following the Monday blowout, the Sixers hosted the “best” team in the NBA on Wednesday. It was a poorly officiated game, to say the least. Donovan Mitchell ended up being tossed in overtime, but the big story was Tobias Harris scoring 11 in OT to carry the Sixers to victory.

For the game, the numbers were solid for Philadelphia. They only had 11 turnovers and forced 16. Both teams had 57 rebounds, but the Jazz was much better from three (48% to 32%). The difference was shooting from the floor and scoring in the paint.

The Sixers shot 52% from the floor (to 44% from the Jazz), but the Sixers were +20 in scoring differential in the paint. Donovan Mitchell may have stuffed the stat sheet with an impressive 33 points, but it’s worth noting he went just 12-34 from the field. The Sixers just played smarter offensively. Despite the sub-par effort from deep, the Sixers cashed in on shots in the paint.

Once again, the Sixers used their size, athleticism, and prowess in the paint to carry them in the game. It was the right strategy and shows this may be the more obvious choice going forward.

All-Star Weekend Picks

The All-Star break is finally upon us, and the Sixers are sitting atop the East. Joel Embiid is creeping closer to being the odds-on MVP, and the Sixers appear to be putting together a dynamic, but viable team identity. Now, let’s take a look at some fun bets for the All-Star break.

Steph Curry +200 to win ASG Three-Point contest

Look, he has a video earlier this year of him making 100 straight threes in practice. He’s also the best three-point shooter of all-time. He may not be in serious consideration for the MVP or a title this season, so this may be the next best thing he has going for him. It seems obvious, but it also seems like a pretty amazing bet.

Chris Paul +250 to win skills challenge

Chris Paul is highly competitive. He’s getting up there in age, but the skills challenge will bring out the best attributes of this man’s game. I expect Paul to show up and show out here.

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