Last night’s Sixers’ away game against the Chicago Bulls was in a lot of ways, an ugly win. The Bulls have fostered quite the roster; a Hinkie-esque group of players minus the G-Leaguers worth rooting for. The Sixers should have smothered this team, but lo and behold. After looking like they might let it slip away, the Sixers fought to the wire to walk away victorious with a final score of 116-115.
The final sequence of events were a truly sphincter-tightening experience. With about a minute left, Chicago’s Zach LaVine hit a 3PT and it felt like a dagger, putting the Bulls up 115-110. The Sixers were able to pull within 1 with about 8 seconds remaining, when Joel Embiid stole a Bulls’ inbound pass at half court intended for LaVine. Embiid dished to Ben Simmons who was fouled and sent to the line, where the Sixers struggled as a team all night. A pair of Simmons’ free throws gave the Sixers’ the lead in the final seconds. Ice in his veins; expressionless. Chicago had a chance to steal the win, but ultimately missed a couple of gimmes around the rim.
Parts of the game were infuriating to watch. After the Sixers jumped out to a 25-7 lead just over 5 minutes into the game, the lead dwindled to just 4 by the end of the 1st quarter and the game was competitive the rest of the way.
The Bulls’ Bobby Portis was kind of incredible. Portis surpassed his previous career high in points in a game by 11, finishing with 38. As a team, the Bulls shot the lights out from 3, going 18-34.
The Sixers bench played very poorly, and Marco Belinelli had a very rough go of things. The newly acquired wing was 1-5 from the floor, with just 5 points, and a miserable -14, in 25 minutes of play. He looked completely lost at times on defense.
That’s about where the negativity from me ends, though. Because the Sixers won this game thanks to the play of their two young studs, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. The duo was unstoppable. It was a joy to watch.
Simmons played angry. He finished 32 PTS, 11 AST, 7 REB, with an efficient 13-18 from the floor. He got to the rim with ease. The Bulls had no answer for Embiid, either. Joel’s box score numbers were 30 PTS, 13 REB, 5 AST, 4 BLK, 3 STL, going 11-17 from the floor including a perfect 3-3 3PT.
Bench flaws aside, the game was exciting to watch for any Sixers fan because it was further evidence that the Sixers have something truly special in Embiid and Simmons. Chalk up the rotation struggles to the lull of All-Star weekend, and enjoy this one. Embiid and Simmons are ready to take on this final 26 game stretch. Dario Saric is a lobster.
Somebody get my man some aloe vera pic.twitter.com/pZgEf172cy— Mike O'Connor (@MOConnor_NBA) February 23, 2018