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Sixers 97-86 Pistons: Embiid and Simmons Steal the Show

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NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Dudes.

Dudes, dudes, dudes, dudes, dudes. (And dudettes! Dudettes too, it just doesn’t flow as nicely.)

DAMN.

That feels awesome. This is what having two young superstars on the same team looks like. It’s the fruits of Hinkie’s harvest coming together and putting on a show for the country to see.

The Sixers notched their first win of the season tonight, beating Detroit 97-86 on the road, and everyone not named Simmons, Embiid, or Covington played like crap (for the most part). Let that sink in for a moment— in a game in which the team got little from any of its supporting players, the Sixers’ superstars were enough to power them to victory over a team with legitimate playoff aspirations.

IT FEELS SO. DAMN. GOOD.

Ben Simmons put up his first career triple double, scoring 21 points on 8 of 11 shooting and adding 5 of 6 shooting from the free throw line. It was his first truly efficient shooting night, and if it’s a sign of more to come, the league is in big, big trouble. He supplemented the scoring with 12 rebounds, which seem to be par for the course right now, and 10 assists.

Let’s talk about those assists for a second.

Rookies should not be able to do what Ben Simmons does with a basketball. The cross court looks he was chucking around are the types of passes basically only LeBron makes. Almost no one has the combination of size, vision, and incredible ball control to pull of passes like this.

(Also the insane hockey assist that wound up with a wide open Covington 3, but I can’t find the video to that anywhere.)

He also took (and made!) a couple of short jumpers, flashed his comfort with his right handed jump hook, and played solid defense, including crunch time possessions in which he started guarding Reggie Jackson. His lateral agility is incredible for a guy his size, and it’s going to allow the Sixers to do some awesome things with their late game defensive lineups as he moves further into his career.

Meanwhile, JoJo came out pissed after his Friday night outing against Boston, which was probably the worst game of his professional career. The cornrows were gone, and Andre Drummond was mince meat. Embiid scored 30 points on only 15 shots, generally got whatever he wanted in offensive sets, and was an astounding +21 on the night.

To some degree, we’re used to this from JoJo. We saw it enough times last year that we know what it looks like. But to see this kind of dominance from two players on the same night gives us a glimpse into how special this team can become.

I know I’ve written about this moment before, but I will always remember Hinkie’s media availability the day after MCW was traded. The local media were so incredulous that Hinkie refused to tell them when the Sixers would be ready for the next step of their development. “When will we know when you have your superstar?” they brayed.

“We’ll know,” came his confident response. Then again, softer, “We’ll all know.”

Two years later, the journalists whining about that response look even dumber. This is what it looks like when you have two superstars pushing their abilities to the limit at the genesis of their careers. These are the types of players you build title-winning teams around.

It’s going to be a helluva ride these next few years.

Some other thoughts:

  • Covington was the third key contributor on the night, again proving his value by coming up with, seemingly, every loose ball, flashing his quick hands everywhere on D, and shooting a key 3-5 from deep. This is the first season since 2014-15 that Cov has come out of the gates shooting well, and it has been a sight for sore eyes.
  • T3 McConnell made a huge corner three to put the Sixers up comfortably in the closing minutes. In a game in which he otherwise struggled, this was a very important moment.
  • The Sixers’ backcourt players didn’t do enough tonight. The offense fell apart without Simmons or Embiid in the game, and Bayless and Fultz simply did not appear to have the capability of running an NBA-quality offense. There are flashes from Fultz, but his refusal to even look for his shot is harming the team right now.
  • Not a banner night for JJ Redick, who scored only 7 points on 9 FGA’s.
  • Brett Brown appears to have his 10-man rotation, but TLC and Amir Johnson have a lot of work to do to prove they deserve their minutes. Both were brutal today, and Amir was the only Sixer player to have a negative +/- (EXTREMELY ASS).
  • Dario showed some first half flashes reminding us of his second half play last year, but he’s really struggling to get going. Brett should consider giving him more creation responsibility with Simmons out of the game in an attempt to pump up those horrific second unit squads.
  • Even in a game the Sixers led by 21, they made us nervous until the end. Sixers gonna Sixer for quite some time until they get used to playing well.

SIXERS WIN. HERE WE COME GOING TO THE PLAYOFFS. LET’S DO THIS.