Stopped Pacers

By: Kylan Watson

The Philadelphia 76ers were in the midst of a zero wins-and-three loss start to the 2022-2023 season. They faced the young Indiana Pacers who were looking to extend the Sixers losing streak to four-games. It was not met to be as James Harden exploded to power Philly to a 120-106 victory over the Pacers and their first win of the season.

Philly jumped on the Pacers from the opening tip-off they were able to hit their shots early on in the game. Joel Embiid (26-points) and James Harden (29-points and had 11-assists) led the Sixers. They combined for 55 of the Sixers 120-points. Both of them returned to form during this game, especially Embiid who for the second game in a row looked like he is returning to form. He dominated the Pacers on both sides of the court. He scored 11-points in the third quarter alone and that helped Philly keep the Pacers at bay. Harden made five three-pointers tonight and got his teammates involved in the offense as well. The Sixers best offensive possessions came when they moved the ball around the court. They were able to get the shots they wanted against the Pacers, and they had no answers for what Philly was doing.

The Pacers weathered the storm early and made this a game in the second half, they were able to take advantage of their youth and make the Sixers pay for not getting back on defense. They were able to get Joel Embiid in foul trouble in this game because Philly did not get back to stop them from attacking the basket. Tyrese Haliburton (19-points), Buddy Hield (18-points), and Jalen Smith (17-points) led Indiana they combined for 54 of the Pacers 106-points. All three of these guys made the Sixers pay specifically from the three-point range. The trio hit eight three-pointers and it did not matter if they had a hand in their faces or not. Philly did not have an answer for this trio, but they were able to keep everybody else from contributing and that was the difference in this game. The Sixers forced the Pacers into some tough shots and the Sixers had easier shots.

Philly’s much maligned second unit decided to show-up tonight. By half-time they scored 34-points more equaling their season total so far in one half. It helped that the Sixers had a big lead throughout most of this game which allowed Coach Rivers to experiment more with is bench unit and give them more time to play in this game. They did not waste the opportunity and it allowed the starters to rest throughout this game. If the second unit can take this game and start contributing more especially with a tough road trip coming up that will feature two games against the Toronto Raptors, one game against the Chicago Bulls, and two against the Washington Wizards. They will be able to do what they did tonight and keep the starters fresh while also developing more chemistry as a second unit. The Sixers will need more performances like tonight. If they want to start stringing together some wins especially on this road trip.

They will now prepare for a Wednesday night matchup against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night. Philly will need another stellar performance on the defensive end if they want to keep Fred VanVleet and the rest of this Raptors squad at bay and get their second win of the season.

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