The Sixers returned home from their west coast road trip to take on the Dallas Mavericks Saturday night. For the second game in a row, both Jimmy Butler and Wilson Chandler were unavailable due to upper respiratory illnesses. So the Sixers turned to Furkan Korkmaz and Jonah Bolden to fill out the starting lineup.
Straight from the opening tip, Ben Simmons did something many were begging him to do: shoot the ball. A jumper right out of the gate was welcomed by an ovation from the crowd, and the fact the shot went in didn’t hurt either. Coach Brett Brown made his presence felt early in this one, calling a timeout just one minute into the game, while the score was only 4-2, to address some defensive lapses. After this, the team woke up, leading the Mavericks 31-26 after the first frame.
Joel Embiid was quiet for much of the first quarter, but that changed in the second. Scoring 9 of his 11 first half points in the second quarter, Embiid was able to calm down the team after the Mavericks bench went on a run. By the time halftime rolled around, the Sixers had extended their lead to eight points, holding a 59-51 lead.
The one quarter the Sixers have had their most trouble with this season has been the third quarter, but that wasn't the case tonight. A very efficient quarter led to the Sixers gaining an 87-70 lead, highlighted by Simmons notching his 18th career triple-double and taking his fourth jumper of the game.
Much like any other game where the Sixers have a big lead, said lead eventually evaporated. The Mavericks started hitting their shots and made everyone sweat a bit. Even without a big game from Luka Dončić (just 4-for-16 from the field, 1-for8 from 3), the Mavericks fought to stay in the game. Great nights from Wesley Matthews (18 points) and Ryan Broekhoff (15 points) helped Dallas whittle down the Sixers’ lead to only 4 points. In the end, the Sixers were able to play strong enough defense and hit their free throws to win the game, 106-100.
With the win, the Sixers moved to 26-14 on the season, the first time they have been 12 games above .500 this year. The victory also marked the team’s third straight, their first such win streak since December 2. The Sixers will look to keep things going against the Washington Wizards Tuesday night at home.