In the second leg of a back-to-back, the Sixers managed a come-from-behind win to down the Charlotte Hornets 110-99. At one point in the second half, it looked like the game could be slipping out of reach with the Sixers down as much as 14. But a strong 4th quarter propelled the Sixers to victory, with the Sixers outscoring the Hornets 36-19 in the final 12 minutes.
Joel Embiid got himself into foul trouble but was able to remain effective, notching 23 points, 15 rebounds and 4 assists while being a menace defensively with 3 blocks. Ersan Ilyasova balled out. In 23 minutes, the recent addition scored 18 points on 7/11 shooting (2/4 from 3PT), and tacked on 4 rebounds and 3 assists. And, after multiple attempts went the other way, the Professional drew a crucial charge late in the game. Ben Simmons did Ben Simmons things with a casual 15 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Doesn’t anyone else look at his box score stats at this point and just think, “What else is new?” Pretty amazing. But yeah, Donovan Mitchell scores points.
Others: Dario Saric had himself a Simmons-esque line as well, with 9 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. JJ Redick and Robert Covington had themselves solid nights scoring 18 and 16, respectively.
It was a second straight night of Sixers basketball, and a second straight night of really solid team play. Some parts of the game were ugly, and a lot of that was on some questionable officiating. But it’s becoming less stressful to watch Sixers games: I don’t know about you, but my mindset has shifted from “they’re gonna blow it” to “they got this in the bag.” A really fun, dominant second half made the game a pleasure to watch.
The Sixers head to Milwaukee Sunday to take on the Bucks, as a couple hundred ravenous Sixers fans take over their court for Bus the Process III. Giannis will be a lot to handle, but the coach and the players seem to have acquired quite an amount of confidence. There doesn’t seem to be many Eastern Conference teams they can’t run with.
During his post-game media availability, Brett Brown was asked about recent addition Ersan Ilyasova’s impact for the team. The coach said, “I’m going to grow them in different ways. And tonight, you would have seen him and dario play a lot with each other ...Him coexisting with Dario Saric. I think that that flexibility, that versatility is what excites me most about him.”
The flexibility Brown refers to was evident in last night’s 4th quarter. During a 3 minute stretch in the final period of play, Brown employed a lineup of Ben Simmons, Marco Belinelli, Robert Covington, Ersan Ilyasova and Dario Saric.
At 8:53 left in the fourth, the lineup was on the floor down 4 points, 83-79. By the time Marco Belinelli and Dario Saric subbed out at 6:03, the Sixers were up 91-90. At times, the lineup somewhat baffled the Hornets. It was a pretty interesting experiment that I hope we see more of moving forward.
In the following clip, Ben Simmons will dribble left, and then perform a dribble hand off to Ersan Ilyasova. Ilyasova will drive from the hand off, while the rest of the players on the Sixers spot up for 3.
Ilyasova was able to get his defender, Willy Hernangomez, off balance and shoot over him courtesy of the speed created from the hand off. If Ilyasova decided he couldn’t get by or shoot over Hernangomez, he had the option to pass out to Belinelli, Covington or Dario.
On the next possession, Simmons brings the ball up to just passed half-court, and then passes off to a trailing Dario. Before Simmons ever even passes to Dario, Ilyasova is anticipating setting a screen on Frank Kaminsky for Dario. The back screen is set and Kaminsky calls for a switch. Ilyasova rolls toward the rim and Dario threads the needle.
The theme here seems to be that the Sixers “bigs” draw their defenders out of the paint because of the respect the Sixers “bigs” deserve out on the perimeter. With the defense’s rim protectors out of position and pretty much in a mismatch, the Sixers want to get speed going toward the rim. Ilyasova coming off a dribble hand off; Dario Saric trailing with a running start when he receives the ball.
The next clip shows the Hornets effectively slow Ilyasova’s momentum toward the rim, when Michael Kidd-Gilchrist pinches after Ilyasova receives a hand-off from Simmons. Ilyasova pulls the ball back out as Saric creates enough separation from Kaminsky to get an open look from 3PT.
This lineup creates major mismatches on the floor by using their advantage of momentum/speed and floor spacing to make up for their lack of a “big” presence. But it also surrounds the court with 3PT threats for kick outs when defensive bigs are able to recover on drives.
Brett Brown was really emphatic when saying “Him coexisting with Dario”, in reference to Ilyasova. Brown’s post-game media availability can be found here, he had a lot of interesting things to say.