It was extra dramatic than it ought to have been, it was a curler coaster of feelings, it was a typical Sixers recreation from the previous few seasons. However this time, that they had the man to place them excessive, and a Jimmy Butler game-winner canceled out 60 points from Hornets guard Kemba Walker, and the Sixers eeked one out in additional time, 122-119.
Listed here are some scattered ideas from the sport, as my mind is at present sliding out of my ears on the considered the Sixers having a man who can get them over the road in closing moments.
• Joel Embiid has been completely brutalizing groups early in video games during the last week, and the development continued towards the Hornets on Saturday. The large fella hit 5 of his first six photographs from the sector within the first six minutes of motion, good for 11 points midway by way of the primary quarter of play.
I am positive he was in all probability mad when he was pulled by Brett Brown after the following timeout, however the run didn’t cease when he needed to take a breather in the midst of 1 / 4. He scored seven extra within the remaining jiffy of the opening interval, bringing his complete as much as a whopping 18. Probably the most shocking half? He solely took three free throws within the opening body, and that often represents an enormous chunk of his manufacturing.
Nearly as good as Embiid has been on a nightly foundation, these flashes make you consider there’s extra untapped potential inside him. The submit strikes are available matches and begins, the jumper might be erratic, and he does not all the time get to the spots on the low block he must. However once you see him put all of it collectively, even for 1 / 4, you’ll be able to solely consider how dominant he can be if he might string these sequences collectively extra typically.
And make no mistake — he is dominant already. Are you able to think about Embiid taking one other huge leap?
• Ben Simmons was filling up the field rating early on this recreation, as he has completed on many events via his first two seasons. However the factor I used to be most impressed with between he and Markelle Fultz was their recreation administration, permitting Embiid correct room to breather with out slicing again on their pace-pushing tendencies.
Each of Philadelphia’s younger level guards walked the tightrope of tempo to perfection within the first half, tearing up the ground when it was applicable and strolling it down when it wasn’t. That seems like a quite simple factor, however hanging that stability is crucial for younger guards and particularly for these younger guards. They’ve a franchise middle who thrives in a recreation the place the ball will get walked up and down, they usually want to ensure they play to his strengths in addition to their very own.
And regardless that this argument has principally already been settled, it is the most important cause why these two have to be separated within the rotation. The Sixers want that for all 48 minutes, and they should simplify the considering for 2 guys working via numerous young-player struggles.
• One factor Butler’s addition has carried out is put one other finisher on the ground for Simmons to seek out in transition. With Fultz within the lineup, Simmons and his backcourt mate would typically have the identical intuition to return again for the ball on a defensive rebound, and that dampens the hazard of your quick break assault.
Outdoors of the ends of quarters and end-game conditions — the place the Sixers are slowing it down for the perfect shot — Butler’s instincts mesh completely with both man. He tears up the ground like a large receiver, offering an outlet for the high-level passers they’ve operating the present.
This could assist the Sixers get again nearer to the place they ended final season, brutalizing groups on turnovers and stops.
• The most important beneficiary of the Jimmy Butler addition? There are debates for lots of people (together with the top coach), however the early returns appear to be pointing within the course of 1 JJ Redick.
Redick is not essentially doing a lot totally different for Philadelphia with Butler within the fold, however he does not should do anyplace close to as a lot heavy lifting for the Sixers as he did pre-trade. With one other man able to taking up crunch-time offense and lead ballhandler duties, Redick will get to save lots of his legs just a little extra, with Philadelphia choosing and selecting how typically they need him to be concerned.
The eye Butler attracts permits Redick to slide between the cracks, and he has been thriving.
• I didn’t know Landry Shamet might throw down like this. I do not assume Charlotte’s saying crew did, both:
Shamet’s position is as clear-cut because it will get: knock down threes, compete on D, and assault the basket on onerous closeouts. That has helped him get off to a strong begin to his NBA profession.
• There are many complaints about Brett Brown’s rotation, so I am going to give him some kudos for stashing Wilson Chandler on the bench the whole first half. Chandler was on a 12-minute restriction on the second half of a back-to-back, and as an alternative of making an attempt to unfold that skinny throughout all 48, the coach relied on him within the half of the sport the place a back-to-back tends to catch as much as everybody.
• Give me the model of Fultz we noticed on the ground Saturday night time each time. He had some breaks that did not go his means, however he performed with function and power on each ends of the ground, and made a number of issues occur with nothing greater than coronary heart and hustle.
That is clearly not all you need out of a child who was taken with the No. 1 general decide, however improvement and progress are going to return if he performs with the angle he did towards Charlotte. He shrugged off errors, pulled up with confidence from mid-range, and seemed fairly good across the basket on a pair transition pushes that have been completed at breakneck velocity.
• It was not an excellent night time on the workplace for Butler on Saturday, however one factor I assumed he did fairly nicely was sluggish the sport down within the fourth quarter by in search of out contact and attending to the free-throw line. Past all the apparent advantages of including Butler to this offense, placing one other elite foul drawer on the ground with Embiid may help Philadelphia catch their breath in moments of turmoil.
The truth is, Butler’s contributions on each ends have been excellent within the fourth quarter, and it was the primary time all recreation he actually managed to hassle Walker on the defensive finish. With some well timed doubles from Simmons and good assist D from Embiid, Butler had Walker second-guessing within the last body, giving the Sixers the window they wanted to place the sport away.
• Let’s give one other shout out to Simmons, who I assumed performed his greatest general recreation of the season on Saturday night time. Individuals will look first to his efficiency on the free-throw line first, and rightfully so, nevertheless it was the power to modify out and in of roles at a second’s discover that I used to be most impressed by. He took it to guys like Jeremy Lamb within the publish when he had the mismatch, made sensible cuts away from the ball, and stored his exercise degree buzzing no matter what his involvement was on a given play.
There is no purpose we will not see this Simmons on a nightly foundation. How a lot of the attacker’s mindset stems from his confidence on the line, which was clearly higher on Saturday than it’s on a mean night time? Robust to say. However he has to maintain coming as a result of he is a bodily imposing participant who wants to do that each night time.
• Simmons and Embiid had mind-numbing turnovers within the remaining minute, and all appeared to be misplaced with simply over 30 seconds to play. After which that man, Jimmy G. Buckets, determined it was profitable time.
He got here up with an impressive play on protection, blocking Walker’s shot after which someway saving the ball from going out of bounds to arrange a ultimate possession in additional time.
And all he did with the ball there was hit a game-winner with a hand in his face, almost inflicting Marc Zumoff to have a coronary heart assault on the printed.
That man is a Sixer, and this workforce may lastly have their nearer.
• I feel Jimmy Butler is a superb defensive participant who’s going to make the Sixers outright higher in particular matchups, notably towards a number of the extra wing-heavy groups the Sixers might meet within the playoffs. However there will probably be some drop-off towards different opponents, too, due to the general flexibility Robert Covington provided them on protection.
You noticed a little bit of this on Saturday night time towards Charlotte. Kemba Walker is a troublesome man to cowl, and he had his method with Butler on him early within the recreation, scoring or aiding on lots of the Hornets’ early offense. He matched Embiid shot-for-shot, and it was solely the large man’s effort that stored the Hornets at arm’s size over the primary 24 minutes.
That was not the case after halftime, and Walker stored coming as Embiid slowed. You do not put that each one on Butler, definitely, as a result of a variety of his second-half points got here in transition or semi-transition with guys scrambling to seek out him on pushes. However he was the man who Walker received it going towards, and this workforce wants extra impression defenders to assist shoulder the load towards elite offensive gamers.
• Simmons had one in every of his wives of the season on Saturday night time, and he balanced attacking and distributing towards Charlotte pretty nicely. There was only one drawback: turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.
There are a whole lot of research that recommend excessive turnover numbers for younger guards is usually a good factor, offered they’re additionally piling up assists, nevertheless it’s the sloppy stuff that is actually insupportable. Choosing up dribbles, throwing passes with no mustard on them, that is the type of turnover you simply cannot have.
• Cease me should you’ve heard this earlier than: the Sixers acquired out to an enormous lead within the first half, let the Hornets slowly claw again into it earlier than halftime, after which ultimately conceded it within the second half and needed to play catch-up. It is a story that is previous as time, and it is definitely sporting skinny on the followers in Philadelphia.
If there was some overarching theme that tied collectively all their blown leads, I might like to level it out. However there’s one thing new every time, and lots of occasions the “offensive stagnation” merely comes right down to the Sixers not making photographs. I perceive this can be a distinction of opinion factor with some readers, but when Embiid goes to be left extensive open with nobody inside 10 ft of him on an above-the-break three, the difficulty is just not him capturing it or designing the play for him to get that shot. It is him not executing as a result of he has the expertise and contact to do it.
Whatever the rationalization, although, it will be good to see the Sixers simply win a recreation with out all of the nonsense and hysteria. Wire-to-wire wins are a misplaced artwork, I suppose.
• Jimmy Butler inadvertently elbowed Kemba Walker within the face on a 3rd quarter play that appeared to finish with an and-1 for Philadelphia’s new star. After Walker laid on the bottom for a couple of minutes and picked up himself, the officers lastly determined to name it an offensive foul, earlier than reviewing the play for a possible flagrant for Butler.
You can persuade me a method or one other on who the foul belongs to — Butler’s movement was utterly pure so I am inclined to consider it should not be a foul on him — however to vary it in that trend was such a clear overreaction to Walker laying there. That is dangerous officiating.
• Simply needed to put it on the market that typically there’s little or no you are able to do to decelerate a high-level scorer. When Kemba Walker is flattening bank-shot threes over Butler in crunch-time, you tip your cap to that man.
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