Six takeaways from the Sixers’ 119-116 win over Indiana
Joel Embiid, despite looking exhausted, had a big performance on the second game of a back-to-back.
A clutch performance by Joel Embiid and great defense by Ben Simmons highlighted the game. Here are six takeaways:
Embiid looked exhausted
Still, on the second game of a back-to-back, he gutted things out against the Pacers. More impressively, Embiid continued to draw fouls down low, and he made his free throws (15-for-15). Whether he will continue to play both ends of a back-to-back remains to be seen, but on this night he was indispensable.
Simmons size really helps
Especially on the pick-and-roll defense. In the fourth quarter, the Pacers ran a pick-and-roll, and Simmons was able to cover 6-foot-11 Doantas Sabonis, who wasn’t able to post the 6-10 Simmons up. He also also made three crucial late-game steals, showing his tremendous defensive anticipation and quickness.
Tobias Harris was clutch
Harris is becoming more comfortable being a go-to player, especially in crunch time. Harris has done a better job recently of getting his shot off the dribble. At 6-9, he is often shooting over smaller players, and he is squaring up confidently when taking the shot.
The Sixers looked like they could apply the knockout punch in the first half when they owned a 15-point lead midway through the second quarter. Indiana had played the previous night at home, beating Atlanta, and it looked like the Pacers were ready to break. Indiana, however, got back in the game by taking advantage of the Sixers’ weak transition defense. The Pacers outscored the Sixers during the first half in fast break points, 12-6.
Indiana got to take advantage of shooting several uncontested threes. The Sixers would collapse on the ball hander and then leave an open player, often in the corner. An example came in the fourth quarter when former Sixers point guard T.J McConnell drew two defenders and hit Justin Holiday for a wide-open corner three that gave the Pacers a 99-97 lead.
Include the Pacers
When the contenders are mentioned in the Eastern Conference, the list usually consists of Milwaukee, the Sixers and Boston. Indiana should be included in this list. This is a team the is proficient shooting the three (although entering the game, the Pacers were shooting 35.6 percent), has great ball movement and is unselfish. They didn’t really have an answer for Embiid inside, but few teams do.