When you have a star player, you’ll have a chance to win games. When you have two, those chances increase. When you have three, you’re pretty damn hard to beat.
The Sixers didn’t have their best performance in a 119-114 win over the Suns Monday (see observations), but when you have three players the caliber of Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, you can still pull out a win.
Embiid continued to put up monster numbers with 33 points and 17 rebounds.
.@sixers @JoelEmbiid has his league-leading 11th 30-point, 10-rebound game. No other player has more than four (@AntDavis23 & @blakegriffin23).— Sixers Stats (@SixersStats) November 20, 2018
Embiid is the first player with 11 such games through a season's first 19 since @TheDeliverer_32 in 1991-92.
Simmons came up just an assist shy of a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. After a quiet start to the Butler era, Simmons has averaged 21 points and 13 shots in the last two games.
Butler has been effusive in his praise of Simmons. Monday night, he talked glowingly about Embiid.
I always thought he was an extremely talented player. Just glad that he’s on my team now. He makes everybody’s job so much easier. He causes so much attention when he has the ball and he’s a great passer. Obviously a tremendous scorer and a great defender. With him on our team, him challenging and blocking shots, scoring some buckets, he’s going to win us a lot of games.
Butler was quiet offensively, scoring 16 points and taking just nine shots. He continued to make a difference on the defensive end of the floor, but he deferred to Embiid and Simmons for most of the night.
And that’s the beauty of having the third star this team had coveted and now has in Butler. One of these guys is bound to have it going on any given night. If two — or all three — of them are cooking, good luck.
We’re only four games into this thing. Butler, as sensational as he has looked at times, hasn’t even fully asserted himself into a game offensively. He took just nine shots Monday. The last time Butler took nine or less shots in a game in which he played at least 32 minutes was Feb. 11 of last season.
The other factor for Butler is his minutes. He’s “not old” at 29 as he pointed out last week, but he’s not exactly young either. Tom Thibodeau is infamous for playing all his best players huge minutes. Butler averaged almost 40 minutes a night in his last five games in Minnesota.
He played 32 minutes Monday night and in his debut. He played 32 minutes or less just twice in 10 games this season with the Timberwolves: His first game of the season and in a 30-point blowout loss to Milwaukee.
No matter who plays how many minutes or who takes the most shots, the Sixers are glad to have their three stars.
The most exciting part is that this is only the beginning.
“I think it’s going great,” Butler said. “Hell, I’ve got my first practice tomorrow to really work everything out and know exactly where I’m supposed to be on every call and every play and all that good stuff. It all comes with time and I think, and I don’t like to say this, but I feel like we have a lot of time.”
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.