By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers faced the Utah Jazz in the second half of a back-to-back. Utah is currently one of the best teams in the Western Conference and they played like it throughout the majority of the night. However, an offensive explosion from Joel Embiid powered Philly to a 103-98 victory over Utah.
Unlike the previous night against the Atlanta Hawks, the Sixers started the game off colder than the weather outside. They could not buy one from three-point line in particular, and the Jazz took full advantage of Philly’s sluggish start. Utah made Philly pay for giving them room to shoot from beyond the arc. They made 11 three-pointers and that got them out to a 14-point lead by half-time. They were led by the trio of Lauri Markkanen (15-points), Collin Sexton (15-points), and Malik Beasley (18-points). They got whatever they wanted from the field early on and imposed their will specifically from beyond the arc. With the way they were shooting it felt like they would blow Philly off their home floor. When the Sixers needed it, most Joel Embiid showed up in a big way he scored 59-points (career high), grabbed 11-rebounds, had eight assists, and seven blocks. Savor this stat line because this has never happened in the history of the NBA until tonight.
He single-handedly erased a 14-point lead by the Jazz and scored 22-points in the pivotal fourth quarter where Philly retook the lead and did not let it go. Embiid’s playmaking like last night played a very important role in getting the Sixers to their seventh win of the season. He made Utah pay for daring to leave a teammate open. There were so many times he saved possessions in this game, with his ability to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. For example, during one possession Embiid found a cutting Matisse Thybulle in the paint which led to a dunk for the Sixers. He will need to get his assists numbers up to increase the offensive capabilities of this team without James Harden. His scoring ability was needed tonight, but he kept Philly in the game and preserved the league with some key blocks on the defensive end. Embiid blocked Collin Sexton on a go-ahead lay-up to keep the Sixers ahead. This Sixers squad will go as far as Joel Embiid will take them and if these last two games are any indication it seems he is turning back into the most dominant two-way player in the league.
On Embiid’s performance, “I’ve never seen a more dominating performance when you combine defense and offense,” said Sixers Head Coach Doc Rivers.
Philly will now get four days of rest as they prepare for the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night. They will need another strong night on the defensive end if they want to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo in check. Additionally, they will need to have a better start to the game on the offensive end. If they want to get their eighth win of the season.