It feels like every game in Indiana is a weird one. Tuesday’s was no different.
The Sixers set a franchise record by making 23 threes while beating the lowly Pacers, 131-122, in a game that was a little too close for comfort. It improves the Sixers to 49-30 on the season.
Here are a few observations from the night.
- Tobias Harris has done so well to adjust to his role. He hit a pair of triples from each wing off passes from James Harden on the secondary break.
- And another triple for Tobi in the corner as Joel Embiid was QUADRUPLE-TEAMED. Good ball movement from the Sixers.
- T.J. McConnell AND Justin Anderson check in for the Pacers as a single tear rolls down the cheek of each Sixers fan.
- Just so many familiar themes for the Sixers here. Poor transition defense and Indy already has eight second-chance points. That’s why the Pacers hold a 25-24 lead late in the period.
- Tyrese Maxey and Harris each have three threes. No other Sixer had hit from deep until Georges Niang made a three with under a minute left.
- Tyrese Haliburton seriously just drove coast to coast ... and the Pacers weren’t even on the fast break. Indicative of a pretty low-energy first quarter. The Sixers got crushed on the boards, giving up six offensive rebounds and 12 second-chance points. They only lead 33-31 because Embiid hit a ridiculous three with time winding down. He didn’t call glass, but who cares? Embiid, Harris and Maxey all have nine points.
- The Sixers can’t miss from three. They’re 11 of 20 to start from deep. And it’s a good thing, because they’re not doing anything else particularly well. Harris is now 4 of 4. And because of that hot shooting Harden is already up to seven assists. Sixers suddenly up eight.
- The easiest case to make for Embiid to be the league’s MVP is to ask voters to simply watch the Sixers play. Indy was making a game out of this, cutting the lead to three. Embiid checked in and the Sixers went on an 11-0 run to push the lead to double-digits. I’m just not sure that there’s truly a player more valuable to his team than Joel Embiid.
- Another quartet of threes from Maxey and he’s got a career-high seven(!) ... at the half. An absurd shooting display from the Sixers so far, who are now 17 of 28 from three on the night. The team record of 21 treys is well within striking distance. The Sixers are up 77-55 late in the second.
- In a half where the Sixers made 17 of 28 from beyond, that was arguably not the most impressive thing about it. Embiid had 27 points and seven rebounds. A thoroughly dominant half from the big man and the entire team, taking an 82-59 lead into the locker room. Maxey with 21 points, all on threes.
- And Embiid with the first five points of the second half for the Sixers, including the team’s 18th three. That’s 32 points and counting less than a minute into the second.
- A few sloppy turnovers and the Pacers cut the lead from 27 to 14 midway through the third. This feels like a case where the Sixers have been so dominant that they completely took their foot off the gas. The positive here is that Embiid should get a nice chance to stat pad.
- Embiid will check out late in the third with 39 points and 11 rebounds in under 30 minutes. A missed free throw kept him from his second straight 40-point, 10-rebound performance. It would also be his 12th such performance of the season, which would tie an NBA record.
- The Sixers have had one ridiculous quarter sandwiched by two lackluster ones. They lost the third 40-25. This Indy team should not score 40 points in a quarter against anyone. No juice at all in that quarter and it allowed the Pacers to cut the deficit down to nine going into the final period. This shouldn’t be a game, but it is.
- This is a five-point game. DeAndre Jordan finishes the game a minus-11 after being ejected for a Flagrant 2 foul. Asking Embiid to save them every night because of poor backup center play is helping his MVP case, but won’t help the team in the postseason.
- Embiid up to 41 points, tying Moses Malone and Russell Westbrook as the only players to have 12 40-point, 10-rebound performances in a single season. Both Malone and Westbrook won MVP in the seasons they accomplished that.
- And the Sixers go on an 8-0 run to extend the lead back to 11. I think the Sixers are better off trying to use sports science to try to find a way to play Embiid 48 minutes a night than expecting Jordan to contribute.
- Maxey hits his eighth three and it breaks the Sixers’ franchise record with 22 threes made.
- Harden’s inability to create space when bigs are switched onto him has been troubling. He’s still been great operating out of the pick-and-roll (14 assists), but you have to hope he finds another gear before the postseason starts.
- Weird game. Not the prettiest win, but the Sixers will take it. Embiid finished with 45 points and 13 rebounds. Maxey complemented him well with 30 points (8 of 11 from three) and seven assists. We’re on to Toronto.