By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers entered tonight’s match-up against the Indiana Pacers, looking to put together another dominating performance on both sides of the ball. The Sixers were able to use their energy and a strong shooting performance to a 113-107 victory over the Pacers in their preseason finale.
Before the Sixers even touched the floor, they were missing one of their biggest pieces in center Joel Embiid who was dealing with a non-Covid related illness. He was held out for pre-caution. No Embiid, made this into the Ben Simmons game. Simmons started the game by slicing through the Pacers defense for a strong lay-up. He scored nine points, grabbed five rebounds, and had eight assists. His passing ability allowed him to find his teammates for open shots. The Sixers were able to use their 53% field goal percentage to chip away at an early Pacers lead.
However, without Embiid in the middle the Pacers were able to attack the paint and get a lead in the second quarter that the Sixers would not be able to overcome until late in the third quarter. A big beneficiary of Embiid’s absence was center Domantas Sabonis. He was able to grab some extra rebounds and get extra scoring attempts for his team.
He took full advantage of the extra opportunities, scoring 26 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Sabonis was also able to get Dwight Howard, and Ben Simmons in some early foul trouble and cause some frustration for Howard. The Sixers did not have many answers for him.
However, the biggest reason the Sixers did not fall to the Pacers, was their bench. The bench players scored 53-points. They were led by guards Furkan Korkmaz, Shake Milton, and forward Mike Scott. The trio combined for 41-points off the bench and their shooting sparked the Sixers. Once again Milton is continuing the Doc Rivers streak of having a strong sixth man. If he can continue to become a consistent shooter, the Sixers may have the spark plug they were missing last year.
The Sixers also put together another strong defensive performance even without Embiid. Once again Danny Green put together a strong defensive perimeter performance and if he continues playing good defense, they may be a problem in the Eastern Conference.
As they head into their opening night match-up on Wednesday night against the new-look Washington Wizards. They will need another strong defensive and bench performance if they want to keep the Wizards down and make a strong statement to open the season.