It’s the first day of November and the Sixers are a .500 team. Let that sink in. Hot off of a win against one of the best teams in the league on Monday in Houston, the Sixers refused to make it easy against a dreadful Atlanta Hawks team. They pulled away by 17 in the 1st quarter but did the Sixers thing and let the Hawks back in it, even falling down by 7 before pulling away and winning by 10.
All other stats aside, which we’ll get to, Joel Embiid played 30 minutes for the first time in his career. A full 30 minutes. AND, he didn’t explode. He played career-high minutes on his way to 21 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks, and another career-high 6 assists. Here’s one of those assists, a cross court baseball pass that led to a wide-open Jerryd Bayless three:
It could be the Ben Simmons influence. Simmons once again put up All-Star level numbers of 19/13/9 in about as quiet a fashion as you can. Well, quiet until this:
Even the highest of high expectations so far have been met by Simmons. It’s scary as a fan because we’re so trained to expect something to go terribly wrong. It should be scary for the rest of the league too. Project that dunk on my tombstone.
But the key to tonight’s game was, and it’s almost crazy to say this about the Sixers, team basketball. The Sixers had 36 assists on 46 made baskets. That’s damn near unheard of. And, of course, many of those assists came from your two superstars.
1st time since at least 82-83 Sixers have had two players (Embiid/Simmons) w/ at 19+ points, 12+ rebs, 6+ assists, per basketball reference— David Murphy (@ByDavidMurphy) November 2, 2017
Dario Saric continued to struggle (1-for-9 from the floor) while T.J. McConnell somehow kept up the insane amount of momentum he has going with 12 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, and infinite grit.
Monday’s game showed how tough this team can be when playing against one of the league’s best teams. Tonight’s - except for the whole losing the lead a bunch thing - showed that they can be in incredibly fun and well-oiled machine when things are really clicking. The Hawks may be more than a little reminiscent of the 2013-2015 Sixers, but - and I can’t say this enough - they’re putting it all together. And when everything clicks, this team will be dangerous.