The Sixers (24-24) concluded their January slate with a 116-108 loss over Atlantic Division foe Brooklyn (19-33). The Nets seemingly created any look they aspired to shoot offensively and coming off a double-digit loss to a reeling New York Knicks team last night, one could expect Philadelphia to prevent a triple-digit scoring outing. However, credit Brooklyn's guards and game plan tonight.
From a Sixers perspective, Ben Simmons initiated and created for himself at the onset, scoring the team's first two baskets and utilized an array of different moves to contribute 18 first-half points Whether it was a hesitation into a push shot off the glass, a blow-by into a reverse dunk or a spin move into a dunk, Simmons found an early rhythm on Spencer Dinwiddie and whose athleticism overwhelmed an overmatched Brooklyn defense.
Simmons hasn't been knocked for his engagement offensively, but it was refreshing to see him tap into his unleashed offensive mentality where he's beating defenders off the dribble and deftly finishing with touch. Simmons also magnetically drew Nets defenders and opportunely dish when his outlet cut and twirled a no-look pass to Covington in stride for a third-quarter layup. Simmons eventually finished with 24 points and seven assists, concluding a bounce-back month.
As Simmons proved difficult to contain, Brooklyn's trio of D'Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie and Allen Crabbe combined for 63 points. The trifecta did most of their damage inside the arc and found cracks in Brett Brown's defense to exploit, whether it was off the dribble into push shots/floaters or pull-up attempts after beating their defenders.
Joel Embiid dominated in his preseason matchup with Brooklyn and appeared to follow his performance with a respectable first half, but he was mired in finishing and shooting difficulties throughout the third quarter. He finished strong with 29 points but shot just 8-for-19 from the field and 1-for-5 from deep.
The Sixers' bench didn't do Embiid any favors, as Amir Johnson and Trevor Booker were helpless against Brooklyn's shooting. Well, credit that predicament to the Sixers' backcourt, who let Brooklyn receive an unimpeded avenue to the paint tonight. Tonight marked JJ Redick's return to the lineup, as the guard scored 20 points and shot 9-of-10 from the free throw line but Brett Brown's backup backcourt spoiled his performance slightly.
Redick likely has a stronghold on the majority of the shooting guards minutes, as Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot went 0-for-4 from the floor and let up Brooklyn runs. The Sixers look for their first win since their 97-78 victory over San Antonio on Friday against the Miami Heat (29-22) at home.