In the most talked about sporting event of the weekend, Brett Brown made his return to Philadelphia as the San Antonio Spurs took on the 76ers Saturday night. Despite a 40 and 13 night from Joel Embiid and 24 points from Tyrese Maxey, the Sixers were plagued by a rough defensive and rebounding effort as they fell to the Spurs 114-105
Here are some instant takeaways from the loss.
- It was another sleepy start, this time for both teams offensively. It took two and a half minutes for either team to get on the board. Once the Sixers did get rolling on offense, it was once again thanks to James Harden. Harden dished out six of his 12 assists in the first, and picked up right where he left off against the Bucks in finding his midrange jumper.
- Harden has also done a good job forcing transition opportunities for a team that doesn’t generate a ton. The Sixers got plenty of chances to run early, with two steals off five first quarter Spurs turnovers. Despite San Antonio struggling on offense, the Sixers were only able to take a six-point lead into the second.
- Matisse Thybulle got his first real minutes of the season tonight after playing just a couple seconds in both the Celtics and Bucks games. He certainly needed to shake off some rust early, as he turned the ball over on his first possession and went 0 for 1 from downtown. He did not play in the second half.
- It was a very disappointing defensive quarter for the Sixers, who allowed 35 points and went into halftime trailing by three. Devin Vassell exploded for 18 in the first half as the Spurs took advantage of the Sixers' drop coverage.
- Philly has really struggled with perimeter shooting in the early going. They came in tonight shooting just 26.3 percent from three, good for 25th in the league. In the first half they were 6 of 16 from beyond the arc, with two late makes from Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris saving this number from looking more crooked.
- Embiid came out of the half slightly more focused. He scored seven quick points to start the half to retake the lead and force the Spurs to call a timeout Maxey did a good job of getting the big guy easy baskets with some lobs.
- Despite the better start to the second half, the Sixers continued to struggle, giving San Antonio little resistance on the defensive end. Keldon Johnson had nine of his 21 in the third. It looked like God had abandoned the Sixers altogether when a Doug McDermott three bounced in off the top of the backboard to extend the Spurs’ lead to 10. Philly found themselves trading baskets with the Spurs and down eight going into the fourth.
- The Sixers’ defense came alive when the fourth started. They started the quarter on a 9-0 run to retake the lead that was largely powered by Embiid. Offensively they went to their bread and butter: the Harden and Embiid pick-and-roll. This was the last bit of life the Sixers showed in this game.
- Did not expect to be typing this at the beginning of the night, but Doug McDermott continued to be a problem late in the game. His eight-point burst stole the momentum right back.
- James Harden disappeared in the second half.
- Embiid checked back into the game with about six minutes left with the Sixers down seven, and it only got uglier from there. The team couldn't even snag rebounds, giving San Antonio plenty of second chances to bury the Sixers. Tyrese Maxey had another late flurry of offense; they just could not get the stops to complete the comeback. There are still 79 games to go, but the Sixers have gotten off to as bad a start as they possibly could.
You can listen to Jas Kang’s postgame thoughts below: