The Tobi and Bobi show has officially launched in Philadelphia.
The duo led the Joel Embiid-less Sixers to a 106-102 win over the Miami Heat at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night.
The victory puts the Sixers at 24-7 at home and 38-21 overall.
Here are observations from the win.
• With Embiid out, Boban Marjanovic got the start and the Sixers didn’t miss a beat early. Marjanovic was a perfect 4 of 4 from the field for a game-high 11 points in the first quarter.
Aside from being a massive human, Marjanovic is actually pretty damn skilled. He has excellent touch around the basket and even a little extended.
His passing is also impressive. He’s excellent at finding cutters. He’s also an exceptional screener and roller.
You could make the argument he was the Sixers' best player, finishing with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Like Embiid, he does have his issues with ball security. He had five turnovers. The team also certainly missed Embiid's presence on defense.
• The Jimmy Butler at point guard experiment is still intriguing. There are times when Butler just sort of blends in offensively because of the firepower the Sixers now have. Playing the one allows Butler to get the ball in his hands early in the possession.
He’s also an underrated playmaker that takes care of the basketball. When the playoffs arrive, we should see more of Butler at the point — maybe with Ben Simmons playing a more traditional four.
Simmons will still have the ability to grab the ball off the rim and do his thing in transition, like on this play to Butler.
Butler was clearly the focal point of the offense, posting 18 points (5 of 14), six assists and six rebounds.
• Good thing Elton Brand got this Tobias Harris guy. Harris showed off his versatile offensive game once again. He was just 4 of 11 from the field and 1 of 5 from three for 12 points through three quarters. He then made an effort to attack more off the dribble and look for shots around the rim. That led to a 4 of 4, 11-point fourth quarter. Shooters shoot and Harris continued to do so even when he struggled early. He finished with a game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds.
• The substitutions were interesting Thursday and they’ll likely continue to be as Brett Brown figures out his playoff rotation.
Simmons was again out with the first wave of subs along with JJ Redick. That means Brown wanted to take a look at the Simmons-Redick pairing, which didn’t work out too well offensively with Jonah Bolden, Jonathon Simmons and Mike Scott rounding out the five on the floor.
Brown went with a Simmons-Harris pairing in the second half, which seemed to fare slightly better, but not much.
Simmons in general struggled in the first half (2 of 6, seven points), but looked much better in the second, getting more post touches against some of the Heat's smaller defenders. He recorded 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
When Miami went small with Kelly Olynyk at the five, it allowed Brown to use Simmons as a five and have T.J. McConnell run the point with Marjanovic on the bench. That lineup is the one that got the Sixers back in front in the fourth quarter for good.
• The bench as a whole didn’t produce a ton, combining for just 12 points, but two guys stood out.
McConnell provided his typical energy and mid-range shooting. He made a very T.J. McConnell play, fronting Dwyane Wade and forcing an errant pass. As the ball was about to go out of bounds, McConnell saved it and it led to a Harris layup. As long as Brown picks his matchups with McConnell wisely, he can provide plenty.
The other reserve that stood out was Jonathon Simmons. Simmons is a legitimate NBA perimeter defender. He hasn't been a very good shooter throughout his NBA career, but he does have a little game off the dribble. He had a nice baseline drive and dunk late in the first half.
• Thursday was Dwyane Wade’s final regular season game in Philadelphia. They played a video featuring Sixers legend Allen Iverson honoring him. The Wells Fargo Center crowd cheered after the video ... but booed when he actually checked into the game. Never change, Philly.
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