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Exhale ... Embiid-less Sixers escape with OT win over Pacers

These are the Sixers wins we’re used to, friends. Without Joel Embiid, the Sixers blew a big lead but came away with an overtime victory.

Indiana Pacers v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

That was weird.

The Sixers avoided a horrific collapse Wednesday night when they took down the Indiana Pacers, 129-126, in overtime. James Harden led the way for Philly with 26-6-8. Tobias Harris and De’Anthony Melton both dropped 19 points, as did Montrezl Harrell.

The Sixers were without Joel Embiid who missed the game with left foot soreness. Doc Rivers said pregame that the injury is of the day-to-day variety. The win moves the Sixers to 23-14 on the season.

Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.

First Quarter

  • Despite telling reporters pregame that the plan was to continue to bring Tyrese Maxey off the bench, Doc Rivers inserted the Kentucky guard into one the smallest starting lineups for the Sixers I can remember. We didn’t see a ton of action with the three-guard lineup, as Maxey still appears to be on a pretty strict minutes count.
  • Indiana shot 4-of-10 from downtown to start the game, but it felt like they were walking into their attempts with all the time in the world. It’s a dangerous game to give Buddy Hield as much time and space as he needs.
  • Montrezl Harrell and the bench breathed some life into the Sixers after a pretty sleepy first quarter. He scored 12 points during his first shift, while blocking a couple of shots which got the crowd into the game. The Pacers would still take a one-point lead into the second.

Second Quarter

  • It is ludicrous that Paul Reed can’t see the floor in a game that Joel Embiid is not active. Even with Harrell playing as well as he did, there is room for Reed in the rotation. It seems even sillier considering that the only other Sixer who played center is P.J. Tucker, who appeared to injure himself yet again in the first quarter.
  • My gripes with the rotation aside, it was a solid second quarter for Philly as they took a five-point lead into the half. They scored 29 points in the frame on 58 percent shooting. They took advantage of the Pacers being one of the few teams in the league who struggle with rebounding more than the Sixers. They out rebounded Indiana 21-16 in the first half and won the offensive glass 6-4.

Third Quarter

  • Tucker playing without an undershirt is just weird. If ever there was a basketball player meant to play in short sleeves, it’s him.
  • James Harden had the Embiid-less Sixers playing at quite a faster pace, and that paid dividends out of the break. They shot 5-of-7 from deep in the third as they pushed their lead to 13. The Pacers tried picking up Harden at half court with double teams, but it didn't seem to slow the Sixers.
  • It seems that Maxey is getting back into a rhythm. Tonight was the easily the best he’s looked on the floor simply from a movement perspective. He finished with 17 on 6-of-16 and played 36 minutes, easily the most since his return.

Fourth Quarter

  • The final frame started off harmlessly enough. The Sixers traded baskets with Indiana for the first half of the fourth as their lead hovered around 10, then the offense hit a wall. They struggled to take care of the ball, turning it over five times including an eight-second violation. The Pacers came all the way back, taking the lead with just under three minutes left.
  • It definitely seemed like the Sixers could have used Matisse Thybulle on the floor during crunch time. He led Philly with a plus-12 in regulation, and Buddy Hield seemed to really enjoy the freedom with Thybulle on the bench. Rivers went offense/defense with Maxey and Thybulle for exactly one possession in the fourth.
  • The Sixers were outscored 36-23 in the fourth quarter, but Tyrese Maxey was able to create not one, but two fast breaks in the final thirty seconds of regulation, allowing the Sixers to temporarily avoid an embarrassing collapse.


  • De’Anthony Melton has been crucial for this team time and again. His two makes from downtown at the end of the game were vital for an offense that limped down the stretch.
  • The Pacers picked on James Harden defensively during their comeback, but he was still able to come up with stops on that end of the floor. He had two deflections, one in overtime and one in regulation, and a block on Benedict Mathurin.
  • The Sixers will wrap up this three-game homestead when they take on the Chicago Bulls Friday night at 7 p.m.

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