By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers entered their second game of the season against the New York Knicks, looking to get a better performance out of their starters not named Joel Embiid. They got what they wanted as the rest of the starters woke up in route to an 109-89 victory. The Sixers are now 2-0 and look like they will be a force to be reckon with in the wide-open Eastern Conference.
Early in the game it was not looking good for the Sixers. The Knicks had gotten out to an early eight-point lead, and it took an early scoring surge by center Joel Embiid to help the Sixers close the gap. He had 20-points by half-time. Much like he did on Wednesday night Embiid hit the shots the Sixers needed and was one of the defensive anchors to help keep the Knicks in check. He scored 27-points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
His efforts on both sides of the ball really helped the Sixers take control of the game and helped his teammates get some opportunities on the offensive side.
They got an excellent scoring effort from newly acquired guard Seth Curry. He benefitted from the attention Embiid commanded hit three/six from beyond the arc. His scoring efforts really provided space for Embiid and Simmons to operate. He scored 17-points, had three assists, and grabbed four rebounds. The unselfish nature of the team allowed Curry to be unlocked.
On the passing, “At one point it felt like the Harlem Globetrotters we were passing and moving the ball so much,” said guard Ben Simmons.
Curry’s budding chemistry with Embiid will be important as the Sixers have been using both in the pick and roll game. When the Sixers were at their most deadly offensively was when they have a shooter in the pick and roll game with Embiid. Forcing the defender to choose, do they try to stop Embiid and allow a wide-open three, or take away the shot and allow Embiid to attack the rim. This budding chemistry will allow not only Embiid, but Simmons to thrive in this new offense.
Their coach noticed, “Joel and Ben are making Seth, Tobias and everyone around them better players, and that’s exactly what we want them to do,” said Doc Rivers.
The Sixers were able to get Embiid (27-points), Curry (17-points), Simmons (15-points), and forward Tobias Harris (17-points) to score more than 10-points. They needed all four of them to help keep the hungry Knicks in check.
They did not go quietly though as throughout the game they fought the Sixers. The Sixers had no answer for the two-headed scoring attack of forward Julius Randle and guard Alec Burks. Their scoring kept the Knicks in the game. They both combined for 47 of the Knicks 89 points. Burks was able to take advantage of bad defense by them and attack the paint and when they closed the paint he just stepped back and hit a three. Randle was the inside attack he would get rebounds and was able to hit some timely threes as well. Their scoring effort was negated by the Sixers defense forcing the Knicks into 16 turnovers. Those turnovers prevented the Knicks from doing any more damage.
Now the Sixers will be looking for another strong effort from their starters as they head into a primetime match-up with the young and hungry Cleveland Cavaliers in their first back-to-back of the season.