76ers

Sixers 114, Magic 106: Sixers outlast Magic in another win without Joel Embiid

Sixers 114, Magic 106: Sixers outlast Magic in another win without Joel Embiid

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After a first half in which it seemed like neither team could miss, the second was a war of attrition

The Sixers eventually won the battle against the Magic, 114-106, Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

In six games without Joel Embiid (knee) since the All-Star break, the Sixers are 4-2. They were also still without the services of Boban Marjanovic (knee) and were missing rookie Jonah Bolden (illness).

The victory improves the Sixers to 25-9 at home and 41-23 overall.

Here are observations from the win.

• The stats say otherwise, but it didn’t seem like either team missed a shot in the first half. Both teams shot over 55 percent from the field and were an identical 9 of 16 (56 percent) from three.

And it’s not like it was a layup line, either. Both teams were hitting long twos and threes. 

The third quarter was a different story as the Sixers held the Magic to 30 percent from the field and got out to a 94-82 lead. The Magic got it down to as little as one as the Sixers got cold late in the fourth.

• Welcome back, JJ Redick.

In the five games since the All-Star break, Redick was shooting 25 percent from the field and from three. Even his free throws were down to 83 percent — not that that’s bad, but the guy hovers around 90 percent for his career.

On Tuesday, he was 8 of 16 and 6 of 9 from beyond for 26 points.

Brett Brown did take some responsibility after the loss to the Warriors, saying that he needed to make sure Redick was being put in the best spots. It did appear that there was a concerted to get Redick the ball early.

More than that, this happens to shooters. It was a slump. For the Sixers’ sake, let’s hope he’s out of it.

• I’m starting to run out of superlatives to describe Tobias Harris. After a rough second half against the Warriors, Harris came back with a vengeance against his old team Tuesday.

Harris is outstanding in transition. Like Ben Simmons, he has the ability to grab the ball off the rim and go. Unlike Simmons, who is either going to drive or dish, Harris also has the threat of pulling up for a transition three or pull-up midrange jumper.

He’s also so good at exposing mismatches, like on this play when former Sixer Nikola Vucevic is switched onto him. Harris crosses him up and finds Simmons for a dunk.

Harris continues to earn himself money — and that money should come from the Sixers. He had 21 points on 8 of 15 and also had 11 rebounds and five assists.

• Simmons, fresh off earning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors, kept up his strong play without Embiid.

He continues to be aggressive in looking for his shot and getting his offense in the post, recording 16 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. We’ll see if that continues when Embiid returns to the lineup.

Paired with Harris, the duo is a nightmare in transition.

Simmons did a pretty good job on Magic forward Aaron Gordon and appeared engaged overall on the defensive end. One thing that stood out was his understanding of when to double in the post and rotate and help at the rim. He has the tools and instincts to be an elite defensive player.

• Jimmy Butler was quiet for most of the night, but made a couple huge shots in the fourth quarter as Brown went to him as his closer.

He also assisted on Mike Scott's dagger three with 47.9 seconds to play and came up with a big defensive play, stripping Vucevic.

Much has been made of Butler's role and the number of shots he's taking, but as long as he's answering the ball in these late-game situations, he's a guy you want on your team.

• With no Embiid, no Marjanovic and no Bolden, Amir Johnson got the start and Justin Patton saw his first action with the Sixers.

Say what you will about Johnson, he was prepared to play and he gave them all he could. He battled Vucevic, who’s played at an All-Star level this season. Vucevic went just 5 of 15 for 12 points. Johnson did struggle in the pick-and-roll with Vucevic and D.J. Augustin.

Johnson was solid offensively, giving them 13 points. He also showed he could still get up on an alleyoop from Harris in the third.

You have to give Patton credit. He’s had a weird start to his career and played in just one NBA game until tonight. He’s spent the last few weeks in Delaware, but, like Johnson, was ready when his number was called. You can see the offensive potential but can also recognize flaws on the defensive end.

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Ben Simmons puts on early show, Joel Embiid comes on late as Team LeBron beats Team Giannis in NBA All-Star Game

Ben Simmons puts on early show, Joel Embiid comes on late as Team LeBron beats Team Giannis in NBA All-Star Game

The Sixers were well represented by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago Sunday.

Ultimately, Team LeBron won a thrilling — well, at least the fourth quarter was — game over Team Giannis, 157-155, on an Anthony Davis free throw. Kawhi Leonard won the newly named Kobe Bryant All-Star Game MVP Award scoring a game-high 30 points.

Embiid, playing without the splint on his left hand for the first time since having surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left ring finger, got Team Giannis on the board with an early dunk.

Then Simmons put on a show.

Simmons had 10 points, three rebounds and three assists in the first half.

The NBA decided to break away from its traditional game format, making each quarter its own mini-game. That means each period had its own tip-off.

And would you look at who was squaring off to start the second.

(Simmons won the tip, by the way)

Not to be outdone, Embiid had a couple fancy dunks of his own as Team Giannis built a lead in the third.

Simmons also had this beauty of a put-back dunk for good measure.

He took a spill at the end but appeared no worse for wear for the rest of the game.

Another wrinkle in the new format this year is that the fourth quarter wasn’t timed, and the teams played to a “target score.” In honor of Kobe Bryant, the “target score” was 157 — 24 more points than what Team Giannis, who was in the lead, had total heading into the fourth quarter.

With Team Giannis nearing that point total, Embiid made his presence felt down the stretch, including dropping this nasty Dream Shake on LeBron James.

Both Embiid (22 points, 10 rebounds) and Simmons (17 points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals) showed why they were selected for the game.

They’ll return to the court for the Sixers Thursday against the Nets at the Wells Fargo Center.

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Sixers Talk podcast: Are the Sixers still a Finals contender?

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Sixers Talk podcast: Are the Sixers still a Finals contender?

The Sixers are off to a solid start for any team, but the Sixers were built to be a championship contender. Danny Pommells and Anthony Gilbert discuss that and who will take up the open role in the starting lineup on this edition of Sixers Talk, presented by Wilmington University.

• Are the Sixers still a Finals contender? (2:00)

• Who will move into the starters lineup in place of Al Horford? (6:34)

• Did the Sixers miss on the trade deadline? (10:31)

• This team lacks veteran leadership (20:42)

• Story time with Anthony Gilbert (29:03)

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