By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers wrapped up their five-game road trip as they traveled to Minneapolis, to face the young and hungry Minnesota Timberwolves. Joel Embiid exploded tonight and buried Minnesota by the end of the third quarter, and Minnesota had no answers for him. His dominance tonight propelled Philly to a 117-94 victory.
Despite playing last night and having tired legs, the Sixers were able to fight through all of that and dominated the Timberwolves from the second quarter onward. The duo of Joel Embiid (Scored 39-points and hit four three-pointers tonight) and Tyrese Maxey (Scored 27-points and hit four three-pointers) led them tonight, combining for 66 of Philly’s 117-points. Both could not be stopped by the Wolves, who did not have the horses available to put up any resistance against them. Both of them were deadeye shooters from the three-point line in this game. They made it rain from there whenever the Timberwolves were able to shut down the paint, both players made three-pointers with hands in their faces. Embiid had a 22-point third quarter that permanently kept the Sixers ahead in the contest. He picked-up right where he left off last night, Embiid was making shots all over the court particularly from the three-point line he did not miss from beyond the arc. When Embiid dominates like he did tonight there are not many players in the league that can stop him. The Sixers needed him to put this game away early without James Harden on the floor tonight. He had to be the team leader for them and he answered the call and put the team on his back. Dominant nights like this can only help the Sixers as they prepare for the postseason where things may not be as easy for them. They will need to be able to win multiple ways and without Harden tonight multiple players stepped up to pull the team over the finish line.
Minnesota weathered the Embiid and Maxey storm and continued to fight in tonight’s game. Anthony Edwards led them as he scored 32-points and hit five three-pointers tonight. He got whatever he wanted from the field and Philly had no answers for him. In one sequence tonight he finished a lay-up through contact from Joel Embiid to energize his team heading into half-time. However, the Sixers were able to turn up the heat defensively and shut him and his teammates down in the second half. Their length clearly bothered the Wolves and any time they were able to attack the paint Embiid was there to erase the advantage. When the Sixers play defense like they did tonight they are one of the best defenses in the league and will be tough on any vaunted offense.
The Sixers will now prepare to face the Portland Trailblazers in Philly on Friday night. They will need to stay attached to their man to keep Portland’s three-point shooting in check. Philly must make sure they throw a lot of bodies at Damian Lillard to slow him down and make sure he and his teammates take contested shots throughout the contest. Additionally, Philly will also need to keep using ball movement on the offensive end to maximize their offensive possessions. Their offense is at its best when the ball is moving, and they create high-percentage opportunities that make it harder for defenses to key in on one player. If Philly can do these things in Friday’s game, they can get their 44th victory of the season.