Sixers Bell Ringer regular season standings:
Joel Embiid: 25
Tyrese Maxey: 12
Seth Curry: 8
Tobias Harris: 4
Andre Drummond: 3
Matisse Thybulle: 2
Furkan Korkmaz: 1
Charles Bassey: 1
for the first time, your bell ringer…— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) February 16, 2022
Philadelphia 76er…JAMES HARDEN!! pic.twitter.com/6dZR5kvfyW
Good thing this Sixers team has James Harden now. Before this terrible game tipped off, The Beard showed up in a “central Philadelphia magnate” outfit and rang the actual bell. Every fan in the house got their money’s worth right then and there. Welcome Mr. Harden!
It was all downhill after that.
The Boston Celtics came in to Philadelphia on a heater having won 10 of their last 11 and eight straight. Their streak is up to nine now.
It was a tricky spot for Joel Embiid and the Sixers because they’re down Seth Curry and Andre Drummond but they don’t yet have Harden available, as he’ll look to alleviate some lingering left hamstring tightness, through All-Star Break.
In the end, the C’s are just playing better basketball right now than the Sixers. Philly experienced their largest deficit of the year. It was a wire-to-wire 135-87 victory for former Sixers’ assistant Ime Udoka and co.
Nonetheless, we must do our duty and assign a Bell Ringer.
Joel Embiid: 19 points, 6 assists, 9 rebounds, 3 of 9 from field, 13-16 FTA
Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum combined to go 9 of 15 from downtown. That duo had no trouble with this Sixers’ defense. They didn’t have to challenge Embiid at the rim too often because everything they threw up went in.
On the other end, the Celtics couldn’t keep Embiid off the line, but they did limit the big fella from finding a rhythm by keeping him from scoring field goals. At the very least, the “foul-Joel-but-don’t-let-him-get-going strategy limited the number of times Embiid was able to whip the home crowd into its usual frenzy.
One mildly amusing moment in an otherwise crummy night was when Embiid tried the James Harden-style stepback and got called for well...steps.
Here was Joel trying it during practice earlier in the day:
Sixers center Joel Embiid trying to James Harden’s trademark step-back move. Assistant coach Sam Cassell keeps saying Embiid is taking four steps, tho. Harden shows him how to do it with two steps. pic.twitter.com/f5l9Vq8gyn— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) February 15, 2022
And sure enough, without fully mastering the timing of “the gather,” he gave the move a whirl and quickly got called for a walk:
I’m actually a teensy bit worried that Joel, who has effortlessly hit step-backs throughout the season, might start getting called for more travels now that there’s this “he’s trying the Harden version” narrative. Hopefully Joel tightens up that new footwork or just goes back to his last version. And hopefully the refs continue to give him the benefit of the doubt on what’s been a major weapon for him this season:
But Joel did do this, so that was exciting:
big fella coming through. pic.twitter.com/bK93uhu7vY— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) February 16, 2022
Paul Millsap: 9 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 of 2 from 3, in just 9 minutes
Paul Millsap made his Sixers debut in this one, and quickly gave the crowd something to cheer about by draining a catch-and-shoot triple off a side line out of bounds.
Paul Millsap’s first shot and points as a Sixer.— Harrison Grimm (@Harrison_Grimm) February 16, 2022
The 16 year-vet has already had conversations with Doc Rivers about being the team’s small-ball big. According to our Josh Grieb, here’s what Doc said about that:
“I told him if we use him, it will be at the five, because I just think that’s where he’s at,” Rivers said. “I just think a vet, a high [high, high] character guy is never bad to put in your locker room.”
Whether or not that will be a viable strategy is yet to be seen but Daryl Morey spoke at the presser and made it sound like he’s had his eye on rostering Millsap since the summer, and finally got his man.
If Millsap can hit that type of corner triple without a ton of room like he drained in this one, he’ll likely carve out a significant role for himself on this team. Two threes in just nine minutes has us wondering if Doc gave the team’s newest Paul a green light to launch. He may not offer the same type of rim protection as Drummond used to, but he’s certainly more effective shooting the ball and switching out on the perimeter than Big Penguin. So there’s some reason for optimism here if Millsap can throw back the clock a bit.
There are officially zero old-school bigs (ones who can’t shoot or switch at all) on this roster now. If that is still the case after buyout market, maybe we’ll finally see some real small-ball experimentation under Doc Rivers.
Tyrese Maxey: 11 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assists
Earlier today our Paul Hudrick asked James Harden what he’s seen from Tyrese Maxey competing against him and how does he see their games meshing. That I’m showing you what Harden said is a transparent attempt to distract you from Maxey’s 3 of 11, -34 performance in 31 minutes. But just run with it, I promise it will cheer you up.
James Harden is a gigantic Tyrese Maxey fan pic.twitter.com/5QIwQrc4xu— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) February 15, 2022
If that didn’t work, this might:
Ben have you considered that Maxey Better Sadly? pic.twitter.com/HRgknGXQ7r— Real Hooper Pilled Trill (@TrillBroDude) February 15, 2022
And if you’re still mopey ‘cause you just hate losing to Boston, then this ridiculous scoop finish will do the trick:
What a tough lay by Tyrese Maxey! pic.twitter.com/PrrvVgv8IZ— Sixers Nation (@SixersNationCP) February 16, 2022
You can hear the TNT broadcast’s Jim Jackson talking about how Harden’s presence will draw so much attention that when he kicks it out, Maxey will have plenty of opportunities to close out and score like that.
Above Maxey has room to fire, but is even more dangerous attacking that close-out when the ball reaches the “second side.”
It may take everyone some time to develop continuity but in time it will become very difficult for defenses to contain Maxey and Tobias Harris when they’re so worried about Harden and Embiid.
When Beard or Process attacks, it will crater a defense. Then Maxey or Harris figure to have some cushy match ups after the kick out.
Who is tonight’s Bell Ringer?
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