The Sixers had every reason to come out flat tonight at home against the Utah Jazz. They were playing their 3rd game in four nights and their star, Joel Embiid had played in both games of a back-to-back recently. Fatigue was likely a big concern coming in, and to make matters worse, they were short-handed as Josh Richardson was inactive due to his sore hamstring.
But the team still played as if if they were pretty fresh right from the outset.
Al Horford led the way early. He hit all three of his deep balls, and finished with 17 points, five assists, 8 rebounds, a pair of blocks and a steal.
Tobias Harris led the Sixers in points with 26. He chipped in 9 boards and 3 dimes as well. While he went through a cold stretch at one point, he helped the Sixers with some timely buckets late in the game when Embiid was in foul trouble and the Jazz made a big run, cutting a once 26 point lead down to ten with just minutes to play. Harris helped slam the door shut.
The hallmark of this team was always going to be about defense, and recently Ben Simmons has truly bought in. He continued his disruptive ways with another four steals. The talk is always about his jump shot and even the home crowd this evening was urging him to fire one up late when he was (prudently) dribbling out the clock. But man, he sure has a knack for preventing a good team from getting a quality look and turning it instead into a high-percentage shot for himself or a teammate. Between the average points per possession an opponent expects, and how good the Sixers are at the wide open dunks he often creates after steals, that type of swing seems like it might be worth more than just one three, plus it makes the home crowd go bonkers. Just saying....
Joel Embiid was handily outplayed by his counterpart, Rudy Gobert in this one. But to be fair, the Sixers’ big man, who appears to be playing himself into shape, was battling foul trouble, and perhaps playing some “prevent defense” with such a large lead to protect. He wound up with 16 points, 11 boards and four assists. He was able to do this to Ed Davis too:
Matisse Thybulle continued his hot shooting. He’s now 16-37 from deep on the year, good for 43.2 percent:
Philadelphia.— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) December 3, 2019
Your son is 3-3 from three-point land. pic.twitter.com/jhJwA2ue6w
Along with the sweet shooting, he also had this gem:
Philly is up 24 and Ben is destroying rims.— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 3, 2019
Sixers still yet to be beaten at Wells Fargo Center pic.twitter.com/jCIZtgI6os
Thybulle’s improved shooting has mad him a very important weapon for Brett Brown as of late.
The Jazz came in on the second of a back to back. They were throttled by Toronto last night. They have now lost four out of five on their current road trip. Donovan Mitchell, who was runner up for Rookie of the Year to Ben Simmons a couple of seasons ago, was held in check. He shot just 6 of 19 for 18 points along with four turnovers.
The Sixers are off until Thursday when they will host the Wizards. If Josh Richardson is not ready to play by then, they’ll have a good chance with the home game to buy him another day off.