The 76ers defeated previously undefeated Orlando Magic 116-92.
A stunning statistic is that this was their first win in Orlando, since March 22, 2018.
Here are my five takeaways:
1. Ben Simmons hit a 3!!!
Simmons has one flaw and it’s his shooting. It’s not that he can’t, it’s that he won’t.
When Ben Simmons hit a corner 3 with 8:07 left in the first, #BenSimmons3 was trending on Twitter five minutes later.
If he begins hitting (or even taking) these open shots with confidence, it’ll open up a whole new world for the rising superstar.
2. Joel Embiid the facilitator
Embiid’s biggest issue in his short career has been turnovers. It’s not that he’s a turnover prone player, he just struggles with reading defenses – more importantly, double teams.
While being, arguably, the most dominant big man in the NBA, Embiid sees multiple double teams on a nightly basis. Brett Brown’s philosophy appeared to be pass to Embiid then get out of the way. The paint was usually clogged, no one moved to the ball and Embiid would flail into a turnover.
Doc Rivers’ (mixed with Dave Joerger) philosophy seems to be some off-ball movement and a relocation of the entry passer, in order to get clean passes out of the double.
While Embiid doesn’t always get the assist, his quick decisions usually result in a hockey assist, after some good ball movement.
The strides Embiid has made in such a short time are impressive, and the more he makes defenses pay, the easier it’ll be for the supporting cast.
3. Finally a fast start
The Sixers came out of the gates firing, shooting 13-26 overall and 6-10 from 3, in the first quarter.
The smoking hot shooting continued in the 2nd quarter, as the 16 point first quarter lead ballooned to 31.
The Sixers would finish the game shooting 48% overall and 45% from 3.
Watch out, these guys are starting to get comfortable.
4. Matisse Thybulle
Buried on the depth chart the first week of the season, Thybulle was thrusted into the 7th man role, replacing an injured Furkan Korkmaz.
He took advantage of this “promotion” with his best outing of the young season. He tallied 9 points and 4 rebounds, including 2-4 from 3 point land.
With his usual stellar defense, if he can shoot the ball at a league average percentage, he will excel in that bench role.
5. Championship defense
Dan Burke was a prize pickup this offseason. The former Pacers assistant is widely known as a defensive genius. His adjustments and gameplans are lauded throughout the league.
Through five games, the Sixers are 1st in defensive rating at 98.0.
The perimeter defense has been suffocating and once a player finally gets into the paint, he’s met by Joel Embiid or Dwight Howard.
You can see the frustration mounting for opposing players throughout the game and that’s when, defensive player of the year hopeful Ben Simmons, seems to take advantage.
A defense this good, this early, can only mean good things for this team. With the offense getting more and more comfortable, this is as a complete of a team as Philadelphia has seen in almost 20 years.
The Sixers next game is Saturday, where they will welcome LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets to the Wells Fargo Center. Happy New Year everyone. #HereTheyCome