3 sightings after exhausted Sixers pull off impressive team win over Nets

3 sightings after exhausted Sixers pull off impressive team win over Nets

How’s that for a team win?

With Tyrese Maxey, James Harden, Joel Embiid and Jaden Springer all sidelined, Tuesday night’s game against the Nets at the Wells Fargo Center was far from a lost cause for the Sixers.

They improved to 9-8 this season with a 115-106 victory. Tobias Harris, De’Anthony Melton, Paul Reed, Georges Niang and Shake Milton all scored 16 or more points.

Kyrie Irving scored 23 points, Kevin Durant 20.

In his first game at Wells Fargo Center since the Sixers’ Game 7 playoff loss to the Hawks on June 20, 2021, Ben Simmons recorded 11 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds, three blocks and three steals.

The Sixers travel to Charlotte and face the Hornets on Wednesday night. Here are some observations on their win over Brooklyn:

Simmons against the Sixers…

As anyone familiar with Simmons’ Sixers history would have predicted, he received loud boos whenever he had the ball. The crowd also sprinkled in some “F— Ben Simmons” chants.

The evening started well for Simmons and Brooklyn. Nicolas Claxton had eight of the Nets’ first 10 points, all in the paint, and the Nets quickly took an eight-point lead.

Harris thought he had cleanly blocked Simmons’ first field goal attempt, but he was called for a foul and Simmons headed to the free-throw line, where the fans had a sustained chance to unleash the boos. He calmed down the volume with a 2-for-2 trip. Much to the delight of the crowd, Simmons couldn’t replicate that effort in the third quarter. His consecutive misses at the foul line meant free chicken nuggets thanks to the Sixers’ “Bricken for Chicken” promotion.

Simmons didn’t surprise the Sixers by considering long-distance jumpers, but he showed his variety of skills. Early in the second quarter, the 26-year-old blocked a Niang floater, then slammed in a dunk on the ensuing possession. A perfectly weighted out pass assist to Royce O’Neale in the third period was another impressive moment for Simmons.

Despite being a former teammate of Simmons, Niang never played alongside him last season. He gave Simmons defensive cushion while occasionally pushing the ball and adding some physicality. He took that approach too far with an off-ball push late in the second quarter that the officials ruled a flagrant foul 1.

The Sixers built a big enough lead that Hack-a-Simmons wasn’t on the table late in the game. Simmons came out with 3:08 to go and the Nets trailed by 14 points.

Sixers with big advantage beyond the arc

PJ Tucker snuck a screen well on the Sixers’ first possession but missed a shot from close range, missing a scoring chance for the first time since Nov. 12.

A number of Sixers possessions lasted late into the shot clock, but their shooting was correct in those spots. Harris made a tough turnover jump in the first quarter and Melton drained a three-pointer. He also beat the first half buzzer.

The Sixers introduced a zone defense midway through the first period, and it didn’t upset the Nets. On Brooklyn’s second possession against the zone, Simmons found space for a right-handed layup. Durant also hit two mid-range jumpers. Without Embiid, the Sixers’ formula for adequate defense is likely a combination of well-timed aggression and opponents lacking jumpers.

The Sixers at least had Brooklyn trading two for three. Furkan Korkmaz took a corner three on his first attempt, giving the Sixers their first lead of the night at 21-20. Milton sent a wraparound left pass to Niang for a triple. When Niang rumbled for a layup on the Sixers’ next possession, Harden and Maxey’s smiles stood out on the Sixers bench. The Sixers ultimately led by seven points after one quarter mostly because they were 5 for 8 from long range and the Nets were 0 for 3. Brooklyn didn’t make a three until 8:24 into the second quarter.

Matisse Thybulle, who was recently hampered by an ankle injury, registered for the first time with 5:58 left in the second. Rather unlikely, his first touch was a corner three just before the shot clock expired. Thybulle tried twice from the same spot soon after, but came back empty.

As for Tucker, his scoreless run just wouldn’t end. He had been very efficient on his typical low volume to start the season, making 57.4% of his field goals and 11 of his 24 threes through 13 games. However, he fell 0-for-6 from the floor late in the third quarter on Tuesday when he kicked in a corner three. He will surely score again soon enough.

Reed up for now, Harris steps up after injury scare

Montrezl Harrell wasn’t always smooth with the ball in his hands, but he eventually provided six points, four rebounds and his usual edginess around the paint in his first inning. He helped the Sixers finish the night with a 20-4 advantage in offensive rebounds by knocking down six in just 16 minutes.

Reed also contributed with a tip on his first stint, which was long because he played so well. Reed’s ability to hang on to perimeter players defensively was also invaluable. He challenged a Seth Curry miss, blocked a Joe Harris layup, played solid post defense to force Simmons into a missed right hook, and smashed an O’Neale lob intended for Simmons. At its best, Reed’s knack for doing something productive on nearly any game is no different than Melton’s. He took full advantage of the available minutes with Embiid and had a great performance overall.

Reed had one of his best streaks this season as a roller on Tuesday night. Brooklyn’s defense was often shaky, but Reed dived hard and effectively to the edge. His layup with 8:45 left in the second quarter put the Sixers up 42-30. At this point, the Sixers had 19 bench points and the Nets just four. The final margin was 47-29.

It appeared the Sixers’ depth could be tested even more when Harris was lying on the field in pain with 11:19 left in the third quarter. He finally got up and cautiously left with head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson in the locker room.

Harris returned a few minutes later. He was very lively too. The 30-year-old forward capitalized on a breakdown in the Nets’ transition defense, driving for a dunk.

When the Sixers isolated him against O’Neale, Harris methodically backed O’Neale up in a way the team doesn’t tend to encourage when everyone else is healthy, then sank a short jumper that capped a 7-0 run. He agreed to be the Sixers’ No. 1 offensive option in the second half. Harris made a major pull-up with four seconds left in the third, giving the Sixers an 85-82 lead.

In the fourth, Harris extended the Sixers lead to 10 points with his first three of the night. Harris also showed off a good deal of his old-school tools, playing a hard physical game. It was completely appropriate for the circumstances, and the Sixers did well to recognize that Harris deserved to touch almost every possession.

Milton then took the reins to extinguish any hopes of a Nets comeback, drilling two jumpers and scoring a put-up layup that prompted Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn to call a timeout and insert his deep reserves. .

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