Joel. Hans. Embiid. That’s it. That’s the tweet.
The Sixers erased a 15-point lead Saturday afternoon to take down the Denver Nuggets 125-119. Joel Embiid out dueled Nikola Jokic, putting up a monster 47 points on 66.4 percent true shooting, along with 18 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two blocks.
The Sixers have won seven straight and are now 32-16 — one game behind the Celtics in the loss column for the one seed.
Here are some instant takeaways from the win.
- A much different start for Joel Embiid than Wednesday’s battle against the Nets, as he made his first four shots from the field, putting up 14 of his 47 in the first. Oddly enough, he struggled from the charity stripe early, missing his first three free throws.
- There were more tweaks to the rotation as Montrezl Harrell checked into the game halfway through the first, much earlier than usual. Harrell was only on the floor for a couple of minutes before Embiid came back into the game.
- Regardless of what lineup Philly trotted out, the Nuggets shredded them with backdoor cuts. Denver shot 58.3 percent from the field in the opening quarter, including 5-11 shooting from beyond the arc. The Nuggets’ 38-point first quarter gave them an early nine-point lead.
- There was something off even in the minutes that went well for Philly. With the bench unit + Embiid, the lead was cut down to as little as two. Those minutes ended with Shake Milton and Georges Niang getting into it with each other after Milton missed Niang on a fast break and got his shot blocked.
- The changes to the center rotation were puzzling. With Jokic absolutely cooking Harrell, Embiid played almost the entire first half. As big a matchup as this is, there’s no need to put that much mileage on Embiid.
- The different rotation was not the reason why Denver went into the half with a 15-point lead. Just like Wednesday night, Philly’s perimeter defense was terrible in the first half. Miscommunications and lapses in effort allowed the Nuggets to shoot 65.9 percent from the field in the first half. Everything was entirely too easy.
- Philly changed some things up defensively during the half, and it appeared to work as they opened the third on a 15-4 run. P.J. Tucker was given the primary assignment on Jokic, while Embiid was used as a roamer.
- Ironically, the Sixers’ most exciting play of the day would start a Nuggets run.
- Philly got T’d up three times after this dunk, allowing the Nuggets to push their lead to 15 again. A couple threes from Georges Niang cut the lead back to single digits however, and Embiid was able to draw a foul on Jokic from over half court as the quarter ended, giving him three more trips to the line. After all that madness, the Sixers were only down three entering the fourth.
- There was no all-bench lineup in the first half, but Doc Rivers opened the fourth quarter with one. It only was on the floor for three minutes, but Denver’s lead would balloon back up to seven.
- Embiid was unreal down the stretch. He scored nine straight points to give the Sixers their first lead of the game since early in the first half, he also blocked two shots in the quarter. It continues to be impressive that the Sixers can eke out wins against good teams despite not playing their best ball.
- The Sixers can make it an eight game winning streak on Monday when they take on the Orlando Magic at home at 7 p.m.