The Sixers just beat the Nets. That is not big news. But it is interesting news for several reasons
- after a tough loss the very hot Pacers, the Sixers were playing the second night of a back to back (after beating the Knicks). They had reason to be sluggish and they were śluggish
- the Nets shot over 50% from 3. They were draining shots like crazy. And that kept them in the game
- Joel Embiid was not shooting well. At one point, I think he was 2 for 11
So this was not a wipe out. It was a nail biter.
How did the Sixers do it? They raised the level of their defense in the critical moments of the 3rd and 4th quarters. In particular an Embiid sniff of a Dimwitty drive at a critical moment shifted the momentum. And Ben Simmons carried the team with his drives and his steals And the Sixers shot well from 3 when they had to.
And btw, Ben took at least 3 jump shots. He made 1.
A quick point — I was not thrilled when the Sixers traded Nerlens Noel and got back Justin Anderson. Anderson looked more like a football player than a basketball player. And he was not playing smart. Last night, Anderson drained some critical 3’s and played good defense. Who knew?
A final word – Jah got some playing time, and he showed some offensive flash. He can do that. He also showed some aggressiveness on defense, something that he never showed in Philly. So good for him!
I am not talking about this year’s playoff scene. I don’t think the Cavs have a chance to win it all — and that is the only thing LeBron wants at this stage in his career. I am talking about where LeBron will go when his contract is up. And that, my friend, is an interesting story.
It starts with a very simple premise. LeBron wants at least one more championship. He will go where he needs to in order to get that. And that means signing up with a team that can take on the Warriors.
So what are the teams? Who knows! The Sixers are one of them. And the Sixers could make a deal work. But LeBron could also consider the Rockets or the Lakers.
Liberty Ballers takes a close look at what Houston would have to do in order to bring LeBron over. Bottom line: it would be tough to do without gutting the team.
Who knows how this will play out! But it will be fun to watch!
The Sixers have 17 regular season games left., and barring a catastrophic collapse, they will make the playoffs this year. It is likely that the Pacers will as well. Amazingly, the Pacers now hold down the 3rd position in the East just ahead of the Cavs and the Wizards, The Sixers hold down the 6th. a game up on Milwaukee, and have a very, very easy schedule to close out the season.
So how will the Sixers do in the playoffs? No one knows. It is possible that as a rookie heavy team, they will fold. At the same time, if they play the way they did against the Nets the other night, they could surprise a lot of people.
We get a preview of that tonight when the Sixers face the Pacers. The teams have split their series so far (1-1). How will this game go? Last time around, Joel Embiid got Myles Turner into very early foul trouble. This time, we cannot count on that. And Victor Oladipo will get his points. But I am betting on the Sixers Turner may not foul out, but Indiana has no answer to Embiid or Simmons.
I didn’t bother to watch the Sixers game against the Heat the other day. I had a feeling that the Sixers had peaked with the Cavs game and were headed for a loss. I was right. The Heat threw the kitchen sink at the Sixers from 3 and beat them.
The question was, could the Sixers bounce back? Fortunately, their next game was against the Nets. Don’t get me wrong. The Nets are not a great team. But they do play hard and on a given night, can give you headaches. They remind me of the Sixers a few years ago.
The good news – the Sixers p,layed about as well as they can, and they rolled over the Nets. And the “about as well as they can” description is better than the “about as well as they can” of just a month ago. The additions of Ilysova and Bellinelli have given the team a boost. They now have legit 3 point shooters coming off the bench. That gives Brett Brwn a lot more flexibility in how he can blend in starters and reserves. And it meant that Embiid could play just 30 minutes. Even TLC and Justin Anderson got minutes against the Nets!
Embiid will need the rest. Next up — the Pacers. This is a team that the Sixers can beat, but have not always beat this year. And they will have a lot better chance of beating them if Dario keeps up his incredible play. The dude is playing very smart basketball and his outside shot has improved tremendously!
Did someone write that Dario would not fit this team? That he would be a reserve at best? When Fultz became a no show, Dario has stepped up and done the job that is needed. And he is just going to get better. Bravo!
For the Nets, it looks like D’Angelo Russell is starting to figure out the pro game. The bad old D’Amgeöp stood around, waiting for the ball. The other night, he looked much more “in the flow”, and he did get hot in the 2d and 3rd quarters.
The Sixers are that kind of team. When they get hot, hitting threes, they can drown just about any team in the league. They got hot last night against the Hornets and it was lights out. Roco, Redick, Bellinelli, Saric, and Ilyasova all were hitting. And when these guys are on, that opens driving lanes and the post. Simmons and Embiid can do their things.
But, as we saw against the Bucks, they can go hot, cold, hot and cold all in a single game. And when they go cold, they start trying too hard. That creates a turnover feast for the other side. I think they had 24 when they lost to the Bucks.
The question will be, how can they stay on an even keel when their 3äs are not hitting? They are still working on this. And a lot has to do with Simmons and Embiid learning how to play a 2 man game at a high level of efficiency. As I watch them now, they can be great, and they can be out of control (especially Embiid).
Onward! BTW, Dwight Howard dropped 30 on Embiid — I think Joel was not playing 100%. Let’s see how that plays out!
The Sixers came into their game against the Hornets a very tired team. They just beat the Cavs in Cleveland and had a delayed flight back to Philly that plopped them back home at 3:00 am on game day. And they had played a back to back before that. In total, 5 games in 7 days. Ouch!
And they looked pooped through the first 3 quarters. Meanwhile, the Hornets were taking the game very seriously, playing with a lot of intensity. So the Sixers went into the 4th down by more than a few.
What happened? I don’t know. All I can say is that the Sixers figured out how to win this game. They tied it up with around 6 to go, and then started to clamp down on defense.
And thank the Lord for Ersan Ilysova. Dario got his 5th foul with around 4 minutes to go and Ersan came in. Errr … Ersan came in and basically won the game for the Sixers. He made clutch shots, took a charge, got rebounds,made free throws, and stayed cool.
This was a big win for the Sixers, who have proved something. They might fold under pressure, but then again,they might not.
Way to go! BTW, Simmons jump shot alert! He made one! from around 10 feet Wow! And as usual, he and Joel played great games. Another alert! There is a video of Markelle Fultz making a 3 point shot! Yes!
BTW, here are some Ersan highlights!
Before one says anything else, one has to say that LeBron James made some amazing plays last night for the Cavs against the Sixers. The dude can drive and this video says it all!
But the dude could not pull his team to victory. After their re-make, the Cavs are good. But they do not dominate the way that they once could. Losing Kevin Love to injury doesn’t help. And last night the Sixers beat them. The Sixers did not dominate them. But they did beat them fair and square., leading nearly the whole game.
I have written this before, and I will write it again here. When the starting unit of the Sixers gels, they can play with any team int he league – even the Warriors. The problem is that “gelling” requires hot 3 point shooting. That cannot be guaranteed. Last night they were hot. And you see the result.
Did Ilysova make a difference? Yes. He spaced the floor. But the critical factor, in my humble opinion, was that the Sixers showed the Cavs how to play team defense. So the Sixers did not go down by a huge margin in the 3rd, even though they only scored 18 points.
Onward! I on record that the Sixers will come close to winning 50 this year! If they play like they did last night, I will be vindicated!
And I want to be vindicated!