The Philadelphia 76ers (31-16) welcomed the Brooklyn Nets (29-18) to town for yet another energy-packed showdown. In the first matchup between Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the Sixers won a wild game by a score of 137-133.
Let’s break down the Sixers Nets.
Joel Embiid: 26 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 6-18 FG shooting
Embiid was listed as questionable to play leading up to this game but it’s safe to say he was looking to play in this one. He went right at Simmons, though he wasn’t crisp as he looked to score. His first field goal came after roughly eight minutes of game time with an uncontested dunk on a transition play in which he didn’t back on defense.
Embiid got going more in the last three quarters but still was scoring as easily as he usually does. The Nets did send him to the free-throw line often but they also made life tougher for him when he got the ball. In the end, he got the best of his former co-star.
Tyrese Maxey: 27 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 8-14 FG shooting
Moving back to the bench with Harden returning to the lineup didn’t shake the rhythm he had in the Sixers’ last game. If anything, he was even better. He was on fire to start this one, hitting shots left and right and pushing the lead for Philly. His playmaking was great, too, especially on an alley-oop to Matisse Thybulle in the third quarter.
De’Anthony Melton: 19 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks, 7-10 FG shooting
Melton had a big scoring night, making his first six shots in a variety of ways. He hit a bunch of triples and even had a nice finish on a layup in traffic. He also came up with some key hustle plays, like an offensive rebound and dish to Maxey for a triple with just a few minutes left and two free throws to put the Sixers up by four late in the game.
James Harden:23 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 6-12 FG shooting
Tonight was not a particularly great night for Harden. He committed several brutal turnovers and wasn’t scoring or dishing at the high levels he usually does. He did, though, provide some pivotal plays in the fourth quarter.
Ben Simmons: 12 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 5-7 FG shooting
Simmons had a decent-at-best game the last time he visited Philadelphia. This time around, he looked to really make an impact…kind of. It was clear by the way he defended that he wanted to slow down Harden and Embiid, playing both with tons of physicality.
Offensively, though, he really didn’t do much. He didn’t even look to score until the second half, opting instead to pass to his teammates and hardly look at the rim. The crowd, of course, showered him with non-stop boos in what was ultimately a lackluster performance in which he didn’t play down the stretch.
Kyrie Irving: 30 points, 2 rebounds, 10 assists, 2 steals, 9-15 FG shooting
Irving got off to a hot start, recording seven points and three assists in the first six minutes of game time. He stayed aggressive and was the biggest difference-maker for the Nets, continuing to break down the Philly defense and keep the Brooklyn offense going without Kevin Durant in the lineup.
Seth Curry:32 points, 0 rebounds, 4 assists, 11-20 FG shooting
The former Sixer was lights out off the bench, scoring in bunches to keep the Nets close throughout the contest. His ability to relocate quickly and fire off a shot gave Philly some trouble. He made seven of his 10 attempts from downtown.
1st halfThe matchup everyone wanted to see was front and center early on. Simmons switched onto Embiid often and did not hold back. Although he got called for an early shooting foul, he was physical against his old teammate. The Nets were called for four fouls early on, prompting head coach Jacque Vaughn to add to the total with a technical heading into a timeout.The Sixers were feeling it from beyond the arc to start this one, making four of their first five attempts and firing away often. Irving was tough to contain, though. Brooklyn came out aggressive on defense – and Irving helped as an off-ball presence — but it resulted in lots of fouls, including two on Simmons in the first quarter.The offense was just off the charts to start this one for both teams. For the Sixers, however, it was because they shot 13 free throws in the first quarter, making all of them. Meanwhile, the Nets made 12 of their first 16 shots.Maxey really had it going with 16 points and four triples early on, scoring from all over the floor and getting friendly rolls on two triples, while Shake Milton converted on some gorgeous takes to the bucket.Simmons’ reluctance to shoot delighted the Philly crowd. Fans went wild when he missed a short hook shot (his only shot attempt of the first half) and his preference to dump off passes to teammates instead of going strong to the cup gave the Sixers a break.After a bonkers first half, the Sixers led 75-65.
2nd halfSimmons’ aggression on offense notably changed coming into the second half. He made a hook shot as the crowd literally shouted at him to shoot as he was guarded by P.J. Tucker and then came back and tried another one but came up short. On a trip to the free-throw line, he cashed in both shots.Embiid hit some hip thrusts after finishing a layup through a Joe Harris foul. After a lot of iso looks in the first half, he and Harden got back to their lethal pick-and-roll game, which opened up looks for both of them. Embiid drew a foul against Simmons, giving him four, and hit his foul shots to provide seven straight points for the Sixers.The Nets found success with the Simmons-Curry connection, which teamed up to cut their deficit back to single digits. The Philly bench didn’t have a super strong offensive punch but the home team still brought a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter.Brooklyn tallied eight unanswered points in less than a minute to make things interesting in the fourth quarter. The run was capped off by a spectacular fastball pass from Yuta Watanabe to Curry for a triple. The Sixers’ offense was sloppy, missing shot after shot while committing turnovers. Curry tied things up with four minutes left.Harden came right back with two huge step-back triples and then passed the ball ahead to Tobias Harris for a key fast-break bucket. The Nets stuck with it and brought it back to a two-point game with 13.5 seconds left but the Sixers held on.
The Sixers have another highly anticipated game this Saturday. They’ll get their first look of the season at Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets at 3:00 PM EST.