Welcome to Run It Back! In this weekly series, we will summarize the week overall and recap each Sixers’ game from the previous week (Sunday to Saturday).
The Sixers were on a three-game homestand this week that started off on a low note with their then six-game win streak snapped in a close 108-104 loss to the Chicago Bulls. The toughest thing about that loss was it was another example of the supporting cast failing to step up to assist Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. If any other Sixer had even hit double-digits scoring in that one, the result may have been different.
But I digress. The Sixers moved on to get back to their winning ways in the later half of the week beginning Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Embiid and Maxey combined for 86 points (51 for Embiid, 35 for Maxey) in a 127-113 victory over the top rated defense in the association. That win was great, but again, it was all on Embiid and Maxey. They were able to pull it out basically on their own.
Just as confidence in the supporting cast might have been waning, however, we saw something we haven’t seen in too long now: a great Tobias Harris game. Harris poured in a season-high 33 points against the Raptors in the Sixers’ 121-111 victory over Toronto on Friday night. He was 5-of-9 from beyond the arc. It was a performance Harris and the Sixers desperately needed.
Embiid had a bit of a scare in the contest, tweaking his ankle, though he was able to complete the game. He seemed noticeably in pain, wincing at some points, but it didn’t seem to slow him down in terms of helping the Sixers. But it’s certainly something to keep an eye on as we head into the next week.
The Sixers have a busy four-game week ahead, hitting the road for its entirety starting with their Christmas Day matchup on Monday at the Miami Heat. The Sixers will then take a trip to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday before concluding the week on a back-to-back at the Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls on Friday and Saturday, respectively. They enter the week on a two-game win streak.
Another streak to watch is Embiid’s now 13-game streak of 30+ points and 10+ rebounds. It is the longest streak since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it for 16 straight games in 1971-72.
Missed any of the action in the past week? We got you covered!
Sixers vs. Chicago Bulls, Monday, Dec. 18
Result: L, 108-104
Bell Ringer: Joel Embiid
The Philadelphia 76ers made it a game, but ultimately fell just short of the Chicago Bulls 108-104 in South Philadelphia on Monday night.
The Sixers had leapt out to a quick double-digit lead but it was just as quickly dismantled by the Bulls and specifically Coby White. Chicago led by one after the first, and the Sixers immediately started looking like a team that hasn’t trailed much in the past week or so. Their energy and ability to sink shots suddenly died, and the Bulls built on their lead for a 55-44 advantage at halftime. Embiid led the Sixers at the break with 23 points — the next most-productive Sixer was Tyrese Maxey with just nine points.
That was pretty much the story throughout this one. Embiid was dominant, but he didn’t have a ton of help offensively otherwise. The Sixers briefly pulled even with the Bulls, but Chicago was able to widen the gap again with just Embiid producing for Philadelphia through three periods.
In the fourth, finally an Embiid-less lineup produced for the Sixers. A Maxey-led bench unit cut the deficit down briefly but the Bulls kept swinging. Maxey had a clutch steal and triple that put the game within reach for the Sixers, but they fell just short for a 108-104 loss.
Sixers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
Result: W, 127-113
Bell Ringer: Joel Embiid
Nico Batum (hamstring strain) and Robert Covington (illness) were out for this one, and the Sixers were even more shorthanded by halftime with De’Anthony Melton ruled out at the break with a thigh contusion.
The Sixers faced their toughest defense in a few weeks now in the Timberwolves. It showed early, with the Sixers struggling to find points in the paint. However, some hot hands from long range made up for it and began to open the floor a bit more. Twenty points a piece for Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey carried the Sixers to a four-point lead at the break.
Well, Embiid kept going to work, but no one else did. The Sixers scored just 26 points in the third, and 19 of them came from Embiid. This isn’t even a special occasion anymore, this guy just single-handedly keeps the Sixers in games when the rest of the team goes cold. The Sixers actually led by three at the end of the third thanks to the league’s reigning MVP.
Maxey carried the weight while Embiid caught some rest to start the fourth, preserving the Sixers’ narrow lead through the halfway mark of the frame. With the big man back in alongside Maxey, the two-man game took over, and the Sixers held on to defeat the Timberwolves 127-113 on Wednesday night. Maxey and Embiid ended up combining for 86 of the Sixers’ points (51 for Embiid, 35 for Maxey).
Sixers vs. Toronto Raptors, Friday, Dec. 22
Result: W, 121-111
Bell Ringer: Tobias Harris
Looking to continue the momentum from maybe their best win of the season Wednesday night against Minnesota, the Sixers overcame a rough first quarter where they trailed Toronto by as many as 15 points, and roared back for what became a comfortable 121-111 victory on Friday night.
Ninety-seven of the team’s 121 points came from Tobias Harris, Tyrese Maxey, and Joel Embiid. It was the first time for the franchise since 1961, when the team was called the Syracuse Nationals, that three players scored at least 30 points in a game.
This was a huge game for Harris specifically who has been struggling as of late. Harris poured in 33 points. He finished the first half with 24 points, six rebounds and five assists and ultimately finished 5-of-9 from behind the arc for his season-high 33 points. It’s just one game, of course, but it’s encouraging at the very least.