This one can likely fall into the category of a win is a win.
The Sixers took care of business against a depleted Suns team, extending their winning streak to four games with a 112-100 victory over Phoenix at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday. Perhaps it was the 1 p.m. start, but neither team looked particularly sharp.
After a sluggish start, Joel Embiid got going in the second half and finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. Most importantly, he was able to take another fourth quarter off. In his second straight start, Kelly Oubre, Jr. continued to provide a huge scoring punch with 25 points. Tyrese Maxey added 22 points and 10 assists, while Tobias Harris’ hyper efficient start to the season continued with 18 points (7 of 9) and 10 rebounds.
Kevin Durant was the only member of the Suns’ star trio that suited up Saturday. Bradley Beal (back) and Devin Booker (ankle) continue to deal with early-season injuries.
The Sixers are now 4-1 on the young season. Here are a few takeaways from the win.
- As is the case with most of these City Edition uniforms, these look so much better actually on the players. The court looks great.
- Nick Nurse has said he’s made it a priority to make sure Harris doesn’t go too many possessions without a touch. He found himself with a mismatch on Grayson Allen and bullied him in the post early on, drawing a foul. He also continues to find and finish transition opportunities.
- Excellent defensive start for De’Anthony Melton. He had a highlight reel on-ball block of Eric Gordon, then came up with a strip on Durant that turned into a Maxey layup. He also hit an early three ball, a welcomed sight considering his offensive struggles early on.
- Both Harris and Oubre got off to nice offensive starts but picked up two early fouls each guarding Durant. With that, Robert Covington became the first of the players coming from L.A. to log meaningful minutes.
- KD vs. Pat Bev. This is the good stuff.
- It’s been a slog for Joel Embiid at the start. Jusuf Nurkic plays him physically, but this feels more like Embiid just not quite in a rhythm early. Credit to Embiid for still attacking. The offense as a whole looked a bit disjointed to start the game.
- If you like offensive basketball, this first quarter was not for you. The teams shot a combined 16 of 41. Embiid had nine points, but was just 2 of 6 with two turnovers. The Sixers held a 25-24 lead despite an ugly start.
- With Harris and Oubre back in to start the second, the Sixers had a little more juice offensively. Both players continue to be in attack mode to start the season. Without KD, this Suns’ offense is painful to watch. Sixers started the quarter on an 8-2 run.
- Not a great start for Maxey either. He wasn’t overly aggressive in the win over the Raptors on Thursday. He’s only taken three shots to start this game. A few bad offensive possessions have gotten Phoenix right back in the game.
- Just like the other night against Toronto, it’s been defense that got the Sixers going. They’ve scrambled against the Suns and pushed it the other way to stretch the lead out to as many as 10. Oubre continues to provide a huge scoring punch and came up with a big time block on Nurkic.
- Embiid is called for a Flagrant 1 against Nurkic on a drive to the basket where Embiid’s elbow catches Nurkic up high. For me, it’s like a catch in football — I have no idea what it is anymore. Nurkic bricked both technical free throws.
- Both teams look putrid offensively. KD isos have been the only effective Phoenix offense. For the Sixers, it feels like they’ve only been able to score in transition.
- Oubre and Harris were the Sixers’ two best players in the first half. Oubre led all scorers with 17 while Harris had 12. Maxey and Embiid combined to go just 7 of 21. This has felt like a game where whenever the Sixers decide to put their foot on the gas offensively, they can run away with it. Alas, it was 52-42 at the half.
- Drew Eubanks started the third quarter over Nurkic.
- The Sixers don’t need to trade for a third star. They already have one. And his name is Kelly Oubre, Jr. He’s up to 20 points after a three and the Sixers opened up a 63-51 lead. He came into the game hitting 45.5% from deep and is now 3 of 5 on the day.
- And Joel Embiid has joined the party. He’s looked much better after a sleepy start and buried Eubanks into the Wells Fargo Center floor. He suddenly has 21.
- Sixers let the depleted Suns hang around. Melton continues to struggle offensively. He missed a pair of free throws and then missed two wide-open threes on the same possession.
- Phoenix managed to cut the lead to 77-71 with KD checking out late in the third. The Sixers didn’t take advantage of him being on the bench and the Suns got it to within two. A bad mix of empty possessions and shoddy defense. They took a 80-75 lead into the fourth thanks to a difficult Embiid three. He leads all scorers with 26 after a 15-point period.
- Embiid got a break while Paul Reed started the fourth. Durant checked back in for Phoenix.
- Nice offensive boost from Korkmaz after a scoreless first half. He had a nice finish against Eubanks and hit a three after the Suns cut the lead to four. A Maxey technical free throw after a Eubanks flop extended it to 88-80.
- It’s been a tough start to the season for Reed, but he gave the Sixers good minutes here. The Sixers were able to push the lead back to double-digits during his run. Reed was a +13 on the day. The Sixers will definitely take that.
- After a quiet third quarter, Harris provided an offensive spark as well with a couple well-times drives. He continues to finish at the rim at a high rate to start the year.
- Not Maxey’s best scoring game of the season, but he nailed a pair of triples to extend the lead and also dished out 10 assists. Another very balanced scoring attack today from the Sixers.
- Embiid was able to take the fourth quarter off yet again.
- The Sixers’ early homestand continues as they’ll look for their fifth straight win against the Wizards on Monday at 7 p.m, ET.