March 21, 2023

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Sixers vs.Nets: Injury-depleted Sixers beat Brooklyn in first game back Ben Simmons

Sixers vs.Nets: Injury-depleted Sixers beat Brooklyn in first game back Ben Simmons

How’s that for a team win?

With Therese Maxi, James Harden, Joel Embiid and Jaden Springer Everything is marginalizedTuesday night’s game against the Nets at the Wells Fargo Center was far from a lost cause for the Sixers.

They improved to 9-8 this season with a 115-106 victory. Tobias Harris, Denthony Melton, Paul Reed, George Nyang and Shaq Melton each scored 16 or more points.

Kyrie Irving scored 23 points and Kevin Durant 20.

In his first game at the Wells Fargo Center since the Sixers’ Game 7 playoff loss to the Hawks on June 20, 2021, Ben Simmons recorded 11 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds, three blocks and three steals.

The Sixers will travel to Charlotte and play the Hornets on Wednesday night. Here are notes on their win over Brooklyn:

Simmons vs Sixers…

Like anyone in the know Simmons’ Sixers History It was predictable, he was loudly booed whenever he got the ball. The crowd also erupted into a few chants of “F—Ben Simmons”.

The night started out bright for both Simmons and Brooklyn. Nicholas Claxton had eight of the Nets’ first 10 points, all in the paint, and the Nets built up an early eight-point lead.

Harris thought he had cleanly stopped Simmons’ first field goal attempt, but he was whistled for his foul and Simmons went to the free throw line, where fans had a constant opportunity to get the boos out. He quieted the Sound with a 2-for-2 trip. To the crowd’s delight, Simmons was unable to repeat the effort in the third quarter. His cascading notifications in the foul line mean free cut chicken through Sixers show “Bricken for Chicken”.

Simmons didn’t amaze the Sixers by being considered long-distance jumpers, but he did display a wide variety of skills. Early in the second quarter, the 26-year-old blocked a Niang floater and then shot into a dunk on the ensuing possession. The director’s perfectly weighted pass to Royce O’Neal in the third period was another great moment for Simmons.

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Although he was a former teammate of Simmons, Niang didn’t actually play a game with him last season. He gave Simmons a defensive cushion while occasionally squeezing the ball and adding a bit of physical strength. He pushed the approach too far by shoving him off the ball late in the second quarter and the officials considered it a flagrant 1 foul.

The Sixers built a large enough lead that Hack-a-Simmons wasn’t on the table late in the game. Simmons scored with 3:08 left, leaving the net 14 points behind.

Six with a large rim behind the arch

PJ Tucker slid nicely across the screen on the Sixers’ first possession, but failed a close range shot, missing out on a scoring opportunity for the first time since November 12.

Quite a few Sixers possessions lasted until late on the shot clock, but their shooting was decent in those spots. Harris made a hard jumper in the first quarter and Milton dried a three-pointer. He beat the first half bell, too.

The Sixers put up a zone defense midway through the first period, not bothering the Nets. On Brooklyn’s second possession against the area, Simmons found space for a right fielder. Durant also hit mid-range jumpers. Without Embiid, the Sixers’ formula for adequate defense would likely be a combination of well-timed aggression and opponents missing jumpers.

The Sixers have had at least a couple of Brooklyn trade threes. Furkan Korkmaz made a layup on his first attempt, giving the Sixers their first lead of the night at 21-20. Milton dished out a left-handed looping pass to Niang for a three-out. When Niang slotted in a layup on the Sixers’ next possession, smiles from Harden and Maxie popped up on the Sixers’ bench. The Sixers eventually led by seven points after a quarter because they were 5-for-8 from long run and the Nets were 0-for-3. Brooklyn didn’t make a three-point lead until 8:24 left in the second quarter.

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Mathis Thibul, who has recently been bothered by an ankle injury, clocked in for the first time with 5:58 left in the second. Instead, the unlikely first touch was a corner made from three just before the shot clock expired. Thybulle tried twice from the same spot soon after, but it came up empty.

As for Tucker, his scoreless run simply wouldn’t end. He was very effective at his usual low volume to start the season, making 57.4 percent of his field goals and 11 of his 24 goals over 13 games. However, he fell to 0-for-6 from the floor late in the third quarter on Tuesday when he hit a layup from three. Will definitely sign up again soon enough.

Reed gets up to the moment, and Harris, fearing injury, climbs up

Montrezl Harrell wasn’t always smooth with the ball in his hands, but he eventually delivered six points, four rebounds and his usual high energy around the paint in his first round. He helped the Sixers finish the evening with a 20-4 lead in offensive rebounds by pulling up six in just 16 minutes.

Reid also took a tip during his first stint, which was long because he played so well. Reed’s ability to hang with perimeter players defensively was also valuable. He intercepted a Seth Curry foul, blocked a Joe Harris throw, played strong defense to force a missing right hook from Simmons, and broke the O’Neale lob meant for Simmons. At his best, Reid’s talent for doing something productive on every play is almost not unlike Milton’s. He made full use of the minutes available with Embiid and had an excellent showing overall.

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Reid had one of his best stretches of the season as a roller coaster on Tuesday night. Brooklyn’s defense was often flimsy, but Reed drove hard and effectively to the edge. A layup with 8:45 left in the second quarter put the Sixers ahead 42-30. At that point, the Sixers had 19 points off the bench and only four points off the bench. The last margin there was 47-29.

It looked like the Sixers’ depth might be tested further when Harris lay on the court in pain with 11:19 left in the third quarter. Eventually he got up and gingerly walked with head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson into the locker room.

Harris returned a few minutes later. It was also very sharp. The 30-year-old forward capitalized on the collapse of the Nets’ transitional defense, driving to a sinker.

When the Sixers sacked him against O’Neale, Harris methodically backed O’Neale in a way a team doesn’t tend to encourage when everyone else is healthy, then sank a short jump that capped it 7-0. He embraced being the Sixers’ No. 1 offensive option in the second half. Harris made an important pull-off jumper with four seconds to go in the third, putting the Sixers ahead 85-82.

In the fourth, Harris extended the Sixers’ lead to 10 points with his first three points of the night. Harris also showed off a fair amount of his old-school paraphernalia, by playing a physical game. It was just right for the circumstances, and the Sixers did well knowing Harris deserved touches on almost every possession.

Milton then took over to quell any Nets comeback hopes, drilling two jumpers and scoring on a rebound that prompted Nets coach Jack Vaughn to call a timeout and field his deep reserves.