By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers were looking to get back in the win column after getting decimated by the Milwaukee Bucks. They faced a hungry Oklahoma City Thunder team that wanted to extend Philly’s losing streak to five games. Unfortunately for OKC, Philly got on a roll and used some strong defense and a three-point shooting to vanquish the Thunder 121-90.
Philadelphia got forward/guard Ben Simmons and center Joel Embiid back for this game and both made their presence felt on both sides of the ball. Especially Simmons who looked refreshed after missing five games because of a non-Covid illness. He attacked the basket and scored 12-points, and he also was the anchor for the defense for Philly. Thanks to him shoring up the perimeter defense. The Thunder could not get any easy baskets and were forced into some well contested shots. When the shots were not falling Philly would steal the ball. They were able to get 22 steals off of OKC. That propelled the Sixers offense they were able to get easy lay-ups and three-point shots. They hit 13 three-pointers.
On Simmons effort, ““He had great energy, great pace. Just Ben being Ben,” said Sixers Head Coach Doc Rivers.
Embiid also made his presence felt he scored 15 of his 21-points by half-time. He also played a huge role in Philly’s defensive effort as his presence effectively shutdown the paint for the Thunder. Despite the fact he is nursing a sore shoulder that did not affect his play tonight.
The starters did not have to put in too much work tonight as this game was decided mid-way through the second quarter. When the second unit made their presence felt. Specifically guard Shake Milton. He only scored nine of the bench’s 50 points. However, for the second straight game he showed some aggressiveness and didn’t look like the moment was too big for him like he did in the previous games. He led a strong scoring surge by Philly to push the lead to 15-points by half-time. Shake regaining his scoring form will be important for the Sixers as they try to shore up their bench rotation for the playoffs.
Getting both of their key cogs back propelled the Sixers to destroy the Thunder. The Sixers now will head to a two-game match-up with the hot Atlanta Hawks starting on Wednesday night. They will need another strong defensive effort and an offensive surge if they want to keep Atlanta down. Philly will also need to build momentum as they head into the playoffs with the number one seed in the Eastern Conference on the line each of these games become more important.