Well, it appears the fourth time’s the charm. The Sixers were finally able to get in the win column when they knocked off the Indiana Pacers 120-106 Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center. James Harden turned in another dazzling performance, just missing a triple-double with 29-9-11. Joel Embiid had 26 points and a season-high three blocks, and Tobias Harris had a nice night with 18 and eight boards.
Here are some instant reactions from the win.
- The Sixers’ emphasis on pace after Doc Rivers said it needed to be better was noticeable early on. The ball didn’t stick like it had in games past, it felt like just about every Sixer on the court was touching the ball every possession. It reflected in the team’s shot selection, as they put up 13 three-pointers in the period.
- Another talking point of this early Sixers season has been the lack of bench production. Some shots finally started to fall for the reserves as the Sixers’ bench outscored Indy’s 18-4 in the first, a big reason why Philly led by 10 after one.
- Some more rotation changes from Doc Rivers as Shake Milton checked into regular season action for the first time this season. Not much action for Shake as he pulled down one rebound and one assist in four minutes. Paul Reed also got some first-half run after Embiid picked up his third foul.
- Tonight was the best Joel Embiid has looked so far this season from a decision-making standpoint. Indiana was very aggressive in sending double and triple teams, and the big fella did a good job of seeing what the defense threw at him and allowing his teammates to get open. Tobias Harris also had a good half in the respect — his 10 first-half points all came from beyond the arc or at the rim.
- The Sixers’ bench came into tonight averaging just over 11 points per game. De’Anthony Melton had 11 points himself in the first half on really efficient shooting (3-4 FG, 2-3 3PM). His hot second quarter helped the Sixers push their lead to 18 at the half.
- Philly had another third quarter lull as the Pacers found a bit of rhythm offensively. Indiana scored 30 points in the third, their highest scoring quarter of the night. The Sixers were able to weather the storm with a 10-point quarter from Embiid, and the Pacers were never able to cut the lead down to single digits.
- Another bench player who may be finding his shooting stroke is Georges Niang. After shooting just 1-4 from three in the first two games of the season, Niang is 5-9 from downtown.
- The Pacers second-half hot streak continued into the fourth — and this time they were able to cut the lead to single digits. Despite going to Paul Reed over Harrell (Embiid was also in significant foul trouble) again in the fourth quarter, the Sixers brought Embiid back into an eight-point game.
- Another brilliant offensive performance from James Harden tonight. He filled up the stat sheet with a near triple-double, and punctuated his night by doing this to poor Benedict Mathurin.
- Things started to look dicey at the beginning of the fourth, but this was the moment that the Sixers put Indiana away.