Basketball isn’t real! At least it isn’t when the Sixers play like doo doo and lose four straight winnable games. While the Heat loss was just a series of buckwild events, and getting Harden’d just sometimes happens, losing to the Magic and getting throttled by the Pacers is just ugly and elicits more overreaction than anyone needs at the turn of the New Year.
The win against the Thunder was a much-needed win against one of the hottest teams in the NBA. While Joel Embiid’s finger went crooked, most others things went straight as the Sixers picked up another win at home, improving to 18-2 in South Philly on the season.
This team really just doesn’t feel the same without frequent Sexer Matisse Thybulle suiting up. Reports are he’s recovering well and is on track to come back maybe Thursday! With again no Matisse this week, there’s an empty spot to fill for this week’s list of Sexers.
Sexer #1: Ben Simmons
As tension was beginning to build surrounding Ben Simmons’ refusal to participate in doing arguably the most important thing one can do on a basketball court, he responded by doing literally everything else and shoving in down our pie holes.
17.1 points, 10.3 rebounds, 10.3 assists and boasting a 57.4% True Shooting percentage in his last eight games is good enough for me. That stretch of eight games featured five double-digit assist games (including a career-high 17 against the Pistons), a 29-point charge against the Rockets, and a noticeable change in use from Brett Brown.
As Trey Burke gets more and more run, it seems like Ben is being used more as a (gasp) power forward. While NBA.com is not at all cooperating with me to get clips from the Thunder game, Simmons was seen much more in the dunker spot and at the foul line passing out to open shooters, or even playing the roll man in some Josh Richardson PnR at the top of the key.
A few times, he and Embiid even coexisted down low and found one another with small window passes for buckets. I’m intrigued at this potential Draymond-esque role for Simmons to create from different spots in the half court, while a separate ball handler can properly space the floor for Embiid to wreak his havoc.
Simmons can still play to his ultimate strength in transition play and guard 1-through-5 on the defensive end. If Trey Burke can keep performing as he is on his new guaranteed deal, then it should be much easier for Ben Simmons to play a positionless role.
Sexer #2: Josh Richardson
The coolest Sixer alive? Becoming friends with Joel Embiid? Playing backup point guard? Shooting OK! Getting fits! Josh Richardson!!!!! He even had 2 assists.... AND 4 assists!
I have never once believed that a 3-point shot from Josh Richardson’s hands was going to go in, but there’s something aesthetically pleasing about such an unaesthetically looking shot going in.
There’s also the subject of setting up Joel Embiid on different play dates with the Sixers roster. Josh was the low-hanging fruit since he is well known for being an incredibly likable dude. Seeing Embiid show emotion and get fired up with someone again is such a relieving sign. Haven’t seen this since the days of Justin Anderson and Joel screaming at each other over FIFA.
Lively three point shooting contest between Joel Embiid and Josh Richardson after practice. pic.twitter.com/KrymU4nrzZ— J Blevins (@JBlevinsNBA) January 5, 2020
Josh being a sick-ass glue guy would be extremely helpful for the team (except I do miss the fro, pls bring it back, JRich)
Jesus. He can come curb stop my ass in these and I would seriously just thank him for the opportunity. https://t.co/Gloy4fifxw— Courtney (@_ourt) January 8, 2020
Sexer #3: Trey Burke
Could Trey Burke be the key?!? Could he be?!?
Ben Simmons plays like a freaking iron man, averaging 35 damn minutes a night and playing at extremely high levels on each end of the floor. While Josh Richardson plugs some of that backup ball handling responsibility, Trey Burke’s 17.2 minutes over the last four games have been magical for the Sixers in their hunt to smooth out their roster through turbulence.
Burke is now one of the only five players to boast a positive PIPM (+0.32). Burke’s +0.79 OPIPM sandwiches a few ticks above Al Horford and a few ticks below Tobias Harris, and not being a total traffic cone on defense has made it just very...... nice to watch and consider for the future of this team’s season.
Over his last four games, Burke is shooting 60 percent from the field and averaging 10.5 points and 2.8 assists. On the season, Burke is shooting an atomic (unsustainable) 46.3 percent from distance.
As mentioned before, if Burke can be THE reliable backup point guard and give this team solid minutes, it allows them to use Ben Simmons in different, more efficient ways in the half court.
Sexer #4: Tobias Harris
Maybe he was sort of worth the $180 million. Tobi without Bobi has been stellar on both ends virtually all season. All things considered, we can just say that Tobias’ season started on the 12th game of the season on November 15. Since then, he has shot 41.3 percent from 3 and is second on the team in scoring with 19.4 points per game.
The spot-up shooting is imperative to space the floor for Ben and Joel, and his creation ability is coming along nicely... and he’s friends with Matisse :)
Other Sexers Things:
Ya know what’s really cool? How far fingers can bend. Joel Embiid strapped on his lab goggles just to see how far he could possibly bend his ring finger and still be an impactful player.
Joel Embiid's finger looks weird pic.twitter.com/EBLdVw7bQu— trey burke sports fan (@legsanity) January 7, 2020