By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers had revenge on their minds as they faced the New Orleans Pelicans for the second time in three days, after falling to them in New Orleans on Friday night. Philly was the more aggressive team as they stifled the Pelicans and used ball movement to beat them 120-111.
Philly jumped on the Pelicans from the opening tip-off as they hit their shots early in this game. Joel Embiid scored 13 of his 42-points in the first quarter, he attacked his defender on all sides of the court. Before they could even get start their gameplan New Orleans had to use multiple big men because of foul trouble. When Embiid got double-teamed, he passed the ball to the open man for a wide-open three-pointer. Philly cashed in on their three-point attempts as they hit 15/35 of them and that kept the Pelicans at a distance. Just like last year Embiid has come a long way in the playmaking department and with the Sixers investing in more consistent shooters around him. It will be pivotal for them to continue hitting their threes like they did tonight if they want to go far in the playoffs.
Despite Embiid’s offensive explosion, the Pelicans were able to make a comeback in the third quarter. Powered by Zion Williamson who scored eight of his 26-points in that period, the Pelicans were able to retake the lead from the Sixers. He continued to be a problem throughout this game for Philly; as his athleticism continued to give them fits. It didn’t matter if he was covered, he would explode through the contact for a finesse lay-up or slam dunk it. The Sixers just did not have an answer for him in this game and if he did not injure his hamstring the result might have been different tonight.
James Harden pushed the Sixers over the finish line tonight as he hit three pivotal three-pointers tonight to keep his team ahead. Harden has been rounding into form lately and tonight he was hitting shots, making the right passes, and attacking the paint. Since his return from injury, he has been hitting his stride lately and the team has been benefitting from his renewed shooting ability. If this continues the Sixers will have one of the deadliest offenses in the league.
Philly will now prepare for a Wednesday night matchup with the Indiana Pacers, they will need to continue their ball movement to get high percentage shots against a stingy defense. Additionally, they will need to continue to stay attached to their man and limit the Pacers explosive backcourt. If they want to get their 23rd victory of the season and continue to rocket up standings in the loaded Eastern Conference.