By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers were riding high after beating the New York Knicks on Sunday afternoon. They faced the New York Knicks again tonight in Philly. The Knicks were trying to stop the momentum of Philly. The Sixers used a third quarter offensive explosion to beat New York 123-108.
Philly jumped on the Knicks from the opening tip-off. They hit their shots early in the game and were threatening to run New York off the floor. Joel Embiid led them he scored 27-points and grabbed 12-rebounds. His playmaking continues to be a big development for the Sixers. Even with James Harden on the floor. Embiid continues to face double teams and continues to find the open man which has allowed his teammates to take full advantage of their offensive opportunities. Defenses have to continue to pick their poison now do they allow Embiid to go off or continue to double-team him and let the other players attack the basket or make the wide-open three. Philly has continued to rocket up the standings in the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks continued to fight in this game and despite the offensive explosion from Joel Embiid. New York retook the lead and were threatening to run the Sixers off the floor by half-time. They were led by RJ Barrett who scored 30-points and continued to be a problem for Philly’s defense to solve. It did not matter who they put on him. Barrett made them pay for daring to give him space to get a shot off. If they prevented him from making a jump shot, he would just attack the basket and get Philly’s defenders in foul trouble. Philly had to turn-up the defensive heat to get the ball out of his hands and force someone else to beat them. The rest of the Knicks could not make them pay for that adjustment.
Philly pulled away late thanks to some clutch baskets from James Harden (26-points) and Tyrese Maxey (25-points) who both hit some late three-pointers to seal the game for Philly. Its early but through three games, it looks like the addition of Harden has not negatively impacted Maxey. If anything, it has had a positive effect on Maxey. He has more energy to spend on the defensive end and his three-point shot has become more consistent with the increase in shooting opportunities. Thanks to defenses keying in on Embiid and Harden. During this game he hit four three-pointers and some of those shots were difficult. One he hit was a turn-around three before the shot clock expired. Maxey is developing into a legitimate third option for Philly and that will be a problem for the rest of the league.
On Maxey’s development and whether he is surprised, “No, he’s the hardest worker I’ve ever been around,” said Embiid.
Philly will now face the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night in the first of a weekend back-to-back. They will need to have another balanced scoring night. Additionally, they will need to play better perimeter defense to keep the backcourt of the Cavs in check if they want their 40th win of the season.