The day after I write a post about the Sixers’ 1st quarters being a signifier of team success, they lose the 1st but win out the rest to take an OT victory out of the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves. It’s the Sixers’ first win on the season where they lost the opening quarter. But it was far from easy.
The Sixers turned the ball over 25 times in regulation. TWENTY FIVE! Ben Simmons all but flat-out refused to shoot until the very end. Joel Embiid displayed some shaky decision-making early before completely taking over the game. And the game had everything: Trevor Booker and Richaun Holmes playing like Energizer bunnies! Dario Saric dagger threes! 38 points from Jimmy Butler! A Joel Embiid triple-double watch! The gasping yells of Tom Thibodeau.
With what can be called a weak performance from Simmons (7 pts on 3/8 from the floor and 8 assists with a +3 counts for a weak Simmons game), Holmes, Saric, Booker, T.J. McConnell, and J.J. Redick all stepped up, while still giving the ball away at an alarming and frustrating rate. Perhaps the Wolves going 5 of 29 from distance had something to do with the Sixers’ ability to get back into it.
Also, the fact that in the midst of 25 turnovers (26 if you count one done on purpose in OT), the Sixers shot an even 50% from the floor, 42.3% from three, and 84.4% from the line. With the OT period, Joel and Dario both played career-highs of 39 minutes, while Ben Simmons played 40. Three Wolves played 40 minutes-plus, because this is a Thibs team.
There were a lot of big moments in this one - including TWO Dario Saric clutch threes, which doesn’t even sound right when you say it out loud - but none bigger than this Embiid three (on his only attempt of the game), which led to what may be Marc Zumoff’s loudest “YES!” of JoJo’s career:
Embiid entered OT with 5 fouls and committed none in the extra period, which may be the most impressive part of his 28/12/8 line, on 8-16 shooting and 11-12 from the line. Actually, it’s the 8 assists with only 2 turnovers. That’s the most impressive.
After struggling early, J.J. Redick ended up with a sneaky 26 points, including more than a few game-clinching free throws. Richaun Holmes put up 15 and 11 in 33 minutes, and new fan-favorite Trevor Booker hustled all over the place, ending up with 12/5/5, one steal, and one monster block. He was also the only Sixer to end the game without a turnover. Saric’s 14/8 is less important that two late threes that led the Sixers into that overtime period, and TJ came back with a head full of steam, giving you 7/6/2 with only one missed shot.
The Sixers come back home now to face the Thunder on national TV on Friday. We should probably expect Robert Covington back.