A sloppy, plodding game between the 76ers and Pacers had the two teams attempting to figure out who could put forth the worse brand of basketball. The result? They needed overtime to decide, as the Sixers loss 122-115 on the road to stay winless on the season.
Robert Covington and Hollis Thompson, the two players who could be considered shooters on this Sixers team, made it rain from deep tonight, as Thompson dropped 19 points off the bench on three-of-six shooting from beyond the arc, while Covington made five of his nine triples on the way to 23 points, but it wasn’t enough to stave off a poor all-around team defensive effort against an underwhelming Pacers squad.
Okafor played his best game of the season, dueling with his future-self Al Jefferson, as they traded fantastic offensive footwork and buckets and exceptionally poor pick-and-roll defense back and forth. It was like watching Anikan Skywalker against Obi-Wan Kenobi, but on a 1950s basketball court straight out of Hoosiers instead of the fires of Mustafar. Okafor used an array of quick turnarounds and hooks to drop 15 points on 12 shots.
Dario Saric had his finest all-around performance of the season as well, recording his first career double-double with 14 points and 12 assists, plus some of that quick, Euro-inspired passing that drew the Sixers to him in the first place:
Despite the loss, the most encouraging tidbit for the Sixers’ season-long development tonight may have been Covington breaking out his shooting slump. Combining tonight’s effort with a four-of-performance on three-pointers on Monday against the Utah Jazz leaves him with a body of work more similar to the 36.3 percent from deep he shot on 939 career three-point attempts before this season. Adding in the stellar defense he’s played this season gives him a nice, balanced all-around game that could even more impactful once Ben Simmons makes his season debut.
The Sixers ultimately illustrated that they could hang with the Indiana team even with their frequent second-half mishaps, a constant occurrence this season. The Pacers played poorly and are a mediocre, beatable team. Combing home on Friday with a well-rested Joel Embiid in tact could bring about a different, and, finally, victorious outcome for the squad.