Wow, where do we begin?
The Philadelphia 76ers found out about a half hour before the game that they would be without All-Star Center Joel Embiid. That seemed to demoralize the Sixers squad as they came out in the first half looking extremely flat and completely disoriented on both ends of the court.
Three technical fouls were dished out to the Sixers over the course of the game, as TJ McConnell, JJ Redick, and Dario Saric were all flagged with techs. Going in to halftime, it seemed like there was no shot that the Sixers could possibly make this game watchable.
Boy oh boy.
I don’t know what Brett Brown specifically said at halftime, but he brought the fire out of this dispirited 76ers squad. Dario Saric, Trevor Booker, and Richaun Holmes in particular came out in the 2nd half flying all over the place, trying to make plays, grab rebounds, and put some pressure on the Heat.
The defensive intensity picked up a TON in the 2nd half as they held the Heat to just 40 second half points and Ben Simmons deserves immense credit for this comeback. He recorded his 6th triple double (and counting) this season, the third most triple doubles by a rookie only behind Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson. Simmons finished with 18p/12r/10a/4s and was a leader on both ends of the floor for the Sixers during the comeback. He was locked in on the defensive end of the floor as he finished with 4 steals, 2 of which came in the 4th quarter to help the comeback effort.
New 76er Marco Belinelli has stated multiple times that he “Trusts the Process” and he had himself a Philadelphia debut as he finished with 17 points on 7-12 shooting.
Another important contributor was Dario Saric who had 19 points, 8 rebounds (4 offensive) and 3 assists (and a whole lot of hustle). Dario seemed like he was losing his cool in the first half, as he picked up a weak technical foul and struggled to create anything on the offensive end. But he got it together and The Homie had it going on in the 2nd half as he was also a huge part of this comeback.
JJ Redick struggled to find his stroke in the first half, as he started off 2-8 from the field along with 3 fouls. But IT’S NOT HOW YOU START... IT’S HOW YOU FINISH... and JJ put the Sixers up 3 late in the game with a frantic, mid range prayer that somehow found the bottom of the bucket. His final line- 14p/7r/5a.
Trevor “Bigger TJ McConnell” Booker lived up to his self proclaimed nickname as he was a major spark plug off the bench, especially in the absence of Joel Embiid. Booker ended with 9 points and 9 rebounds, 5 (!) of which were on the offensive glass.
Richaun Holmes played with a chip on his shoulder, as he made the most of his minutes to help the Embiid-less Sixers with his 11 points 9 rebounds 2 assists and 2 blocks, including a dunk that almost prompted me to call the local authorities.
SEND IT HOLMES.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) February 15, 2018
The Homie recovers the ball for Richaun to put down this frustrated slam.
Heat leads this one, 48-33. pic.twitter.com/KpHT3UV8fl
Again it’s necessary to reiterate, all of this was happening without Joel Embiid.
The Sixers improve to 30-25 on the season, and are currently locked in to the 7th seed ahead of the Miami hit, and sit 1 game behind the 6th seeded Pacers, a game and a half behind the Bucks, and two games behind the Wizards.
We shall see what the team decides to Joel Embiid concerning the All-Star festivities.
But enjoy the win, Happy Valentine’s Day. TTP.