By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers traveled to the Midwest to face off against a young Indiana Pacers squad that is looking to get closer to the play-in game at Philly’s expense. Philly once again made it rain from the three-point line to dominate Indiana 147-143.
Unlike the last few games, the Sixers got off to a fast start on the offensive side tonight. The trio of Joel Embiid (42-points), Tyrese Maxey (24-points and made six three-pointers), and Jalen McDaniels (20-points) led Philly tonight, they combined for 76 of the Sixers 147-points. McDaniels had his best night in a Sixers uniform since being traded to Philly from Charlotte last month. He took full advantage of the increase in scoring opportunities and proved that he can be a pivotal playoff rotation piece for them. His length and scoring prowess were on full display today as he was able to stifle a couple of fast break opportunities for the Pacers just by using his length to deflect the ball and be opportunistic on the defensive side. On one possession him and Joel Embiid double blocked a Miles Turner shot attempt, to keep the Sixers ahead in the contest. If he can continue to be a five-tool player for Philadelphia then he might just find a long-term home with the Sixers. He certainly has the capability to help Philly be a championship contender in the loaded Eastern Conference if tonight is any indication of what he is capable of when he gets the chance to fully showcase his abilities.
Despite a scoring explosion from the Sixers trio, Indiana continued to fight tonight they were able to stay above water throughout most of the night thanks to Tyrese Haliburton. He took full advantage of his quickness advantage over the slow-footed Sixers defender. Haliburton would blow by them or rise up for a three-point opportunity. He scored 40-points and had 16-assists tonight and there was nothing the Sixers could do to stop him. They could not throw much size at him tonight because they were missing both PJ Tucker and Tobias Harris because of injury. They used Jalen McDaniels to shutdown Buddy Hield tonight so the guy that went off tonight was Haliburton. However, they were able to slow everyone else down and that helped them stay ahead in the game.
When the Pacers started to chip away at the Sixers lead, they were able to make timely buckets mainly from the three-point line. They hit 16/34 three-pointers and the man that led them in threes was Tyrese Maxey who hit six of them tonight. He found the holes in the Pacers defense and would rise up to hit some timely buckets to keep Philly ahead in tonight’s game. Maxey becoming a three-point sniper has been pivotal for the Sixers throughout this season and will be important come the postseason as well. When he plays aggressively it adds another dimension to this team, and his return to the starting lineup has added some much-needed life to Philly’s offense. The one knock for Maxey is that he is not the best defender, and he has 18-games to improve on that end. If he wants to increase his two-way ability and help the Sixers improve their perimeter defense.
The Sixers will now prepare to face the Minnesota Timberwolves tomorrow night. This is another young team with an athletic backcourt. The Sixers will need to stay attached to their man and communicate on the defensive end, if they want to slow down Anthony Edwards. Additionally, they will need to keep the ball moving on the offensive side. Ball movement continues to help Philly get high percentage shots on the offensive side which has led to an increase in three-point opportunities and has also allowed them to find the open man all over the court. They will need to do all of these things if they want to get their 43rd victory of the season.
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