By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers traveled to Charlotte to face the young Hornets who hoped to take advantage of Philly possibly overlooking them. After beating up the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night, they were able to avoid the trap game narrative and jumped on the Hornets from the opening tip, beating them 121-82 increasing their win streak to seven games.
Consistent has not been a word that anyone would have associated with the Sixers early in the season, but this version of the squad has earned that word being associated with them. From the opening tip-off they showed Charlotte it was not going to be their night, they made them work for everything tonight. Any shot the Hornets put up had a hand in their face that forced them to be perfect with their offensive execution. Charlotte could not meet that moment tonight and the Sixers showed that they can play perfect defense for four quarters. If the defensive intensity continues into the postseason, then the Sixers will be a championship contender in the loaded Eastern Conference. On the offensive side the duo of Joel Embiid (38-points, grabbed 13-rebounds, and had four blocks) and Tobias Harris (18-pointsand hit three three-pointers) led them they combined for 56 of the Sixers’ 121-points. Both of them got whatever they wanted from the field, especially Tobias Harris who has been in a scoring slump over the past few games. He broke out of it tonight as he imposed his will throughout this game. Harris attacked the basket if he had a smaller defender on him, and if a taller defender was on him, he rose up over them and found the bottom of the net. Harris increasing his scoring will be pivotal for the Sixers to go far in the postseason. He is one of the best defenders on the team and if he can increase his scoring back to what he was doing earlier in the season then there will be more room for both Joel Embiid and James Harden to operate. If his scoring increases then the offensive ceiling for the Sixers raises even more, and that is saying something because the Sixers have been operating at a higher level on offense since January.
Despite the offensive explosion from both Embiid and Harris the Hornets continued to fight in this game. They continued to make Philly work for everything on the offensive side and force them to perfectly execute their plays. The Sixers were able to do that tonight, but the Hornets could not get out of their own way in the contest. Even when Philly gave them opportunities, they could not make shots tonight. The Sixers made a clear effort to not give them anything from the field, the Hornets were able to briefly take a one-point lead late in the first quarter. That was the closest they got to the Sixers tonight.
The Sixers will now travel to Indiana to face the Pacers tomorrow night, they will need to keep the ball moving on the offensive side. If the ball moves, they can find the holes in the defensive scheme and get high percentage shots that is what has been working for them on that side of the ball. Additionally, they will need to make sure that the Pacers shooters have a hand in their face whenever they put a shot up. The Pacers are a team that will drown the Sixers from the three-point line if they are given the opportunity. If the Sixers can do these things, they can get their 48th victory of the season.
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