You know how there’s that thing in the NFL about a west coast team coming east to play a 1pm game against an east coast opponent? That scenario is usually beneficial to the east coast team.
The Portland Trail Blazers traveled to play the Philadelphia 76ers in South Philadelphia for a 1pm matinee at the Wells Fargo Center. Now, what if I told you that this west coast (or Pacific Northwest) team had to do all of that traveling for an early tip on a Saturday afternoon when even I needed two cups of coffee just to function?
What if I told you that same Trail Blazers team shot 5 for 23 from deep, and their best player, Damian Lillard only scored 17 points on ten field goals?
What if I also told you that the Sixers got 29 points, ten assists, and seven rebounds from Ben Simmons?
Would you think it would be a positive outcome for the Sixers?
Well, you’d be wrong, today.
The Trail Blazers made the most of a 41-point third quarter to defeat the Sixers at home, 130-115. Lillard only had 17 off ten field goals, but that’s okay when you have six other teammates that score in double figures. The leader of that bunch was center Jusuf Nurkic who had 24 points and ten rebounds. CJ McCollum finished with 15, and Enes Kanter scored 16 off the bench. Jake Layman had 8 points and 11 rebounds (six offensive). (There’s more on that momentarily.) He also was apparently very mad, today, for some reason:
The previously mentioned Nurkic was a particular pain in the rear for everyone in attendance as well as Ben Simmons. Midway through the third quarter of their increasing barrage, Simmons went to the line to shoot free throws. Words were said, and double technical fouls were called after the exchange.
This game was just really weird. Simmons played well, but without All-Star center Joel Embiid for the second night, the offense sputtered like anyone that suffered from dysentery on the Oregon Trail. Jimmy Butler finished 15. Tobias Harris had 20, but no one else was really a factor. JJ Redick was 1-10 from the field, and Boban Marjonovic – the star of Thursday night’s game against the Miami Heat – only had four points and five rebounds.
Speaking of rebounds, let’s mention how the Trail Blazers (a top-5 team in offensive rebounding) had 19 offensive rebounds that led to way too many second chance opportunities. Again, Jake Layman had six offensive rebounds in this game. Jake… Layman!
Without Embiid in the middle, the Sixers struggled to defend the paint. For the second straight game, the Sixers have allowed exactly 66 points in the paint. There was no answer. Boban wasn’t the answer. Amir Johnson wasn’t the answer. Jonah Bolden wasn’t the answer. There was just no answer at all.
Next up, the home squad goes to New Orleans to play the Pelicans on Monday night. Embiid likely will not play for his third straight game. Anthony Davis (shrug) might not play, either.
Weird game, today, ya’ll. Weird, weird game.