What if I told you Joel Embiid sat the first end of a back-to-back to rest before a national television game and the Philadelphia 76ers still went out and won two-straight home games?
It was arguably the team's best offensive performance of the season. Six players scored in double figures as the team posted 111.2 points per 100 possessions, a mark that would rank second in the NBA on the season.
Sergio Rodriguez and Nik Stauskas were bushels of fun all game long. Rodriguez led the team with 12 assists, consistently pushing the tempo, finding cutters and not shooting below 50 percent from the field! Stauskas, as absurd as it may sound, truly filled a Manu Ginobili-lite effort off the bench. Seriously!
It's something Brett Brown discussed in the preseason, in which he revealed to reporters he showed Stauskas Manu film during the offseason and training camp in an attempt to emulate the Argentinian's game.
"He's going to have to, or he's not Manu, and we can all just walk away right now," Brown said. "We're all born different ways, and I want him to be Cocky Nik. I want him to have an edge to his game."
Stauskas led the team in plus-minus, posting a +17, starring in the bench unit's second-quarter explosion that built a lead as large as 24. He knocked down open three-point looks (2-3 from deep) and attacked the rim with reckless abandon off the bounce. Sauce Castillo only finished with 2 assists, but had at least 5 other assist opportunities by my count and attacked closeouts to move the ball like a savvy veteran.
He's been cutting tremendously off the ball this season as well. I mean, the dart to the rim here and the finish is just incredible:
What a turn of events for a guy many, including myself, lobbied to be left off the 15-man roster. He's providing activity off the Sixers' bench like Darren Sproles changes the pace on third downs. Bench effectiveness is vital for contending NBA teams. Look at the difference between this year's 9-man-deep Clippers compared to recent iterations that couldn't strike anything outside of their core four players.
Dario Saric and Hollis Thompson joined Stauskas with double figures off the bench. Saric was relegated to the pine for Ersan Ilyasova, clearly a move to provide more spacing for Jahlil Okafor with Embiid resting—another example of Brett Brown's acumen, but I imagine that argument will settle down following a second victory.
Editor's Note: Didn't feel right having this recap up without a shout out for Okafor's play tonight. This was, fairly easily, his best performance of the season so far. He was the team's pacesetter with 19 points on 8-11 shooting, and as Brown mentioned in his post-game presser, he showed an assertiveness that has lacked at times. Whether that meant taking it to Gortat on the block or making decisions on defense, he played at a quicker pace than he has all season. Turning his obvious skill into instinct is the key moving forward.
He also pulled back the curtain on some friendly banter from Joel Embiid after fouling out:
Okafor on fouling out: "[Embiid] made fun of me when I got back here. He said I was the only player who could foul out in 20 minutes."— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) November 17, 2016
After a rough outing on Monday, the man deserves his kudos tonight.