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Scorching Sixers Top Toronto

The reckoning is coming, folks.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers held the NBA’s best per-possession offense to 89 points tonight, coming away with a 94-89 win. They’ve won seven of their last nine games, and although I don’t have the numbers in front of me, I’m not sure they had won seven games ever prior to this stretch.

Some thoughts:

  • Holy hell, Joel Embiid. A +20 in 26 minutes of a five-point win, Embiid yet again proved to be an offensive focal point the team could lean on in tight times. He continues to get to the line at an astounding rate (league-leading 10.9 free throw attempts per 36 minutes, 14 tonight) and convert at an elite level for his size, up to about 79 percent on the season. But the offense is really the luxury. In my preview today, I called DeMar Derozan one of the toughest tests for Embiid yet, and he was certainly up to the challenge. Robert Covington did an excellent job on him one-on-one, especially in the first half, but it’s hard to stay in front of one of the league’s most slippery, dynamic scorers when you don’t have the confidence that the big guy behind you has you covered. And he sure did, walling off the basket as always, bothering drivers and sticking guards on switches. My goodness, the switches. Kyle Lowry is 6-feet flat!

Again, sometimes there’s just only so much you can say about someone. What he’s doing is unbelievable. The team and the city has something really, really special.

  • Dario Saric almost brought the house down. Seriously.

Turns out Philly’s a pretty tough place to play when the team is worth buying tickets for. Who knew?

There’ve been plenty of flashes of Saric’s fire, but this was definitely Peak Dario as far what we’ve seen this season. Philadelphia already loves the guy, and I don’t think he’s run a single pick-and-roll or initiated any offense yet this season. The most intriguing dimension of his game has yet to be unlocked, and as he continues to get more comfortable with the speed and nature of the NBA game, look for him to showcase more and more.

  • This is starting to feel real, huh? The team’s defending at an elite level with Embiid on the floor, and showing signs of actual cohesion and fluidity offensively to boot (we know how good the defense has been over this stretch, but the offense is also scoring 102 points per 100 possessions, which, yes, is still only 27th in the NBA, but it’s night and day from the stagnation of November). The most jarring sign that this is something special, though, is the way they’re winning over national reporters and personalities alike.

(Okay, yeah, this was really just an excuse to embed this tweet from Process Heel Andrew Sharp. We win.)

Who knows how long this lasts or how sustainable this level of play is. Not sure we should care, either. The Sixers are beating playoff teams and Joel Embiid is incredible, and it’s special as hell. Let’s keep having fun with it.

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