The first quarter was kind to the Sixers, as they got off to a 10-0 lead thanks in large part to some early shots by JJ Redick. Getting Redick involved early was nice, but the first quarter was all about the Sixers’ two homegrown stars. Joel Embiid had 12 points in the first quarter, proving to be more engaged and energetic than in the past few games, a big positive for the team. He is the best player on the court almost every time he is out there, so getting him going early was important. Ben Simmons was no slouch either, wrapping up the first quarter with a 7-6-3 line while proving to be active in every facet of the game. By the time the quarter wrapped up, the Sixers had themselves a nice 34-24 lead.
The entire first quarter felt like the Sixers were in control, but that changed in the second. The Pacers bench led them on a 12-2 run to start the quarter and tie the game, where for much of the run they simply outplayed the Sixers. What makes the Pacers so dangerous is that they have such a deep bench they can turn to if they are struggling; players like Tyreke Evans, Cory Joseph, and Domantas Sabonis flipped the script for them.
The Sixers don’t have that right now, and when starters get rest, the team falters. Sabonis is also dangerously close to being signed to the “Sixers Killer Team” alongside Kemba Walker, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Blake Griffin, as he ended the night with 14 points and 16 rebounds off the bench. Once the starters returned, it was business as usual for the Sixers, as Joel Embiid continued to dominate. The half ended with a 59-49 Sixers lead and Embiid pacing the team with 28 points and 14 rebounds.
After halftime, the third quarter Sixers reared their ugly heads once again. The Pacers went on another run to tie the game and the Sixers just seemed lost. Ben Simmons wasn’t running the offense, trying to post up more down low, but not getting the looks he wanted. For the second game in a row, Joel Embiid became an afterthought in the second half, once again playing outside way too often and not playing the style that made him so dominant in the first half. The Pacers went back to their aggressive style of defense, leading to them taking an 80-77 lead heading into the final quarter.
For much of the fourth quarter, the Sixers were just trying to stay afloat, as they could never get into an offensive rhythm. Some timely shots by JJ Redick and Joel Embiid kept them in it, but in the end, the Pacers could not be stopped. An ugly last few minutes blew the game wide open, as the final 113-101 score shows.
If something can be learned from tonight, it should be that the Sixers need to make some moves before the trade deadline. The wing defense tonight was atrocious and when Embiid wasn’t hitting his shots no one stepped up. This obviously will be somewhat fixed when Jimmy Butler is back to full health, but having a stronger bench is a necessity because this bench just isn’t cutting it. It’s a shame that Embiid's domination to the tune of 40 points and 21 rebounds was overshadowed, but here we are.
The Sixers take on the Cavaliers on Sunday in Cleveland, the perfect place to get back on track.