After the diagnosis came that Joel Embiid would miss two weeks, there was a sigh of relief. Quickly, it was replaced with the sudden realization that the rest of his Sixers teammates would have to tread water awaiting his return for at least two weeks. Embiid was having a dominant MVP campaign before his knee hyperextended into another dimension. And he was so dominant, at times as fans we were counting down the minutes until he checked back into the game when Doc Rivers headed to his bench unit.
So, as you can imagine, the Sunday homecoming against the Spurs needed to be a tone setter for the new Sixers less Embiid. What followed was an ass kicking of a lifetime that ended with the San Antonio being dealt their worst lost in franchise history.
Here are three key takeaways from the San Antonio Onslaught:
Steph/Danny Shoot the Lights Out
Look, somebody not named Tobias Harris has to score while Joel Embiid is out. We’ve relied on Jojo’s ability to score on pretty much every efficient paint touch he gets. Without that going for us, we move to other avenues. Embiid being out of the lineup creates a lot of space to maneuver. The wings have lanes to run and fire, and they did so effectively on Sunday night. Danny Green went 4/7 on 3P FG’s (I had over Danny Green over 2.5 three’s made and it cashed within 4 minutes of gameplay. Is this how Philly Godfather always feels?) and he finished with 16. Seth Curry finished with 21 points (9/16 shooting) in what was one of his best games of the year. Seemingly he hit every pull up jumper he took and was great coming off screens. It’s nice to see guys not just standing around, they are direct with their movements on offense. The wings were so great I’m not sure there was a Danny Green Moment of the Game Award Handed to Danny Green (Cc: Michael Levin).
The bench unit has gone from a hopeless cast of characters looking like they were thrust into a game of Jumangi to an absolute buzz saw on offense. This unit used to rely on strongly contested Shake Milton shots late in the shot clock after dribbling aimlessly for 17 seconds. Now, Furkan Korkmaz and Dwight Howard are running a perfectly orchestrated two man game. And for Korkmaz, his confidence may have never been higher than it is right now. You could tell by his slick yet innocent grin after a late three on Friday against the Wizards. He was 4 of 4 on three point attempts against San Antonio and was in double figures for the third straight contest. The confidence is oozing for him, and that whole unit.
Ben Simmons Critics
It would be easy to touch on Tobias Harris who finished with a game high 23 points. He is their best scorer without Embiid and should have been an All-Star. But once again, we have to acknowledge Ben Simmons and his value to his team as internet critics try to diminish it. Ben would have likely had a triple- double if the starters didn’t sit the whole 4th quarter. He looked rusty in his first game back but by the 3rd quarter he was up to 15 points including two rim murders on vicious dunk attempts. He finished with 9 assists, most of which were 3 pointers in transition, and he harassed Dejounte Murray on defense. He’s so much fun to watch on both ends of the floor now as he keeps improving on offense. I know people like the Wizards commentator don’t get a chance to watch the Sixers often, but if you did, you simply just wouldn’t be calling this guy ‘overrated’.
FLEX ON EM 25!!!! SOLID 💪🏻 pic.twitter.com/l9aUIkCsl3
— Brock Landes (@LandesBrock) March 15, 2021
Is there a better thrill ride than the feeling of an opponent missing two free throws for a free Frosty? Good to be back baby.