Postseason Bell Ringer Recipients
The Sixers entered Thursday night’s elimination game with not only the season on the line, but potentially their head coach’s job, the future decisions of key free agents, and a summer’s worth of fretting over franchise cornerstones all hanging in the balance. It’s safe to say the team rose to the occasion. The big stars played like max guys, Brett Brown received a couple strong contributions off the bench, and the Sixers led by as many as 24 points in coasting to an easy 112-101 win.
The only downside of Thursday night was Joel Embiid receiving his third flagrant foul of the postseason (one away from a one-game suspension) on what looked like a completely harmless, everyday NBA play. Rescind the flagrant, NBA, you cowards. Now, we await Game 7 Sunday in Toronto, something Brett Brown referred to as “a life lesson, a life opportunity.” Before that momentous occasion, though, we select a Bell Ringer:
Jimmy Butler: 25 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers
Jimmy Butler was once again the steady hand at the control of the team’s offense in the half court, finding the seams in the Raptors defense and creating points for himself and others. Butler joked post-game: “The game is simple. I shoot the ball when I’m open. Sometimes I shoot it when I’m not open.”
The sequence to end the first half really encompassed the totality of the Jimmy Butler experience, as he scored seven straight points to send the Sixers into halftime with a 15-point lead. First, Butler grabbed his own miss and made a circus shot while getting fouled by Kyle Lowry (which fans loved because of Lowry’s continued histrionics this series). Then, Butler roasted Pat McCaw (who was brought in as a defensive substitution specifically to guard Jimmy). Finally, Mr. Buckets got a steal just across mid-court and charged down to lay the ball in right before the buzzer. The crowd chanted Jimmy Butler’s name as the players filed off to the locker room, and you could almost see the soon-to-be free agent’s bank account growing by the second.
After the game, Brett Brown said Butler “stamped his authority” on the game. Jimmy certainly signed, sealed, and delivered an upcoming Game 7 for Philadelphia.
This Jimmy Butler play to end the half. Wow. pic.twitter.com/qDSQnZ7rwI— SPORTSRADIO 94WIP (@SportsRadioWIP) May 10, 2019
Ben Simmons: 21 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 0 turnovers
For the second time this postseason, in the face of an upswell of criticism, Ben Simmons responded with a tremendous performance. From the beginning of the game, Simmons let us know Thursday night would be different from his passive play the rest of the series, tallying eight points and five assists in the first quarter.
Toronto’s poor shooting definitely helped Ben get out in the open floor more often, but Simmons also displayed a more aggressive mindset, going right at Kawhi Leonard or whoever else was in front of him to barge into the lane and either finish himself or find an open teammate. Add in a handful of tip-backs and lob finishes from the dunker’s spot, and the usual excellent defense, and Simmons did it all for the Sixers. Well, there was one thing he didn’t do: turn the ball over!
Joel Embiid: 17 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 5 turnovers
That stat says it all, but let’s try to expand. Obviously, the team fell apart faster than a Daenerys Targaryen late-season battle plan whenever Embiid wasn’t on the floor. Defensively, Joel makes such a huge difference for the Sixers, stifling the pick-and-roll game, protecting the rim, and forcing the Raptors to settle for a lot of floaters and mid-range jumpers. As Kyle Lowry said after the game, “you’re conscious of where he is on the floor.”
Then, Embiid even cranked things up a notch in the third quarter. He had two huge blocks of Kawhi Leonard, recorded a 3-point play by hitting a jumper over Danny Green, attacked Kyle Lowry from the top of the key when Toronto tried out a zone, and finally hit a 3 in the final minute of the quarter. It was a complete tour de force from the big man, who played 11 minutes in the period. After the game, Embiid stated, “If I got to play 45 minutes out there to win, that’s what I got to do.” The Sixers might need him to do just that on Sunday.
Nobody liked this Embiid bucket as much as T.J. McConnell ✈️ pic.twitter.com/f9u6qbLIYM— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 10, 2019
James Ennis: 5 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 turnover
After an abysmal Game 5 performance, we witnessed the type of outing the Sixers crave off the bench from James Ennis Thursday night. He attacked the offensive glass like a madman, getting one putback bucket, and drawing a Kyle Lowry foul on another occasion. Defensively, Ennis hustled back like his season depended on it (which it did), knocking the ball away from behind for one steal, and also drawing an offensive foul on Kawhi Leonard. The epitome of Ennis’ night, however, was his putting Pascal Siakam in the torture chamber, eventually blocking the Cameroonian’s shot attempt and leading the break for a Mike Scott corner 3.
Mike Scott: 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover
The Mike Scott Hive assembled in force during Game 6. Everyone’s favorite tattoo muse brought his typically physical play off the bench, also adding a sweet-shooting 3-of-4 performance from behind the arc. His presence really helped the spacing for Ben Simmons and everyone else barreling down the lane, much to the delight of Sixers fans and the Sixers bench alike.
Who is your Bell Ringer for the Game 6 victory?
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