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Sixer of the Week: Fourth-quarter defense twice averts disastrous week

We now return our attention to another team in Philadelphia

New York Knicks v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

2023 Sixer of the Week Award Winners:
Joel Embiid - 3
James Harden - 1

Before things went sideways for the other team with title aspirations currently playing for the City of Brotherly Love, it was shaping up to be a disastrous week for the Philadelphia 76ers as well. They blew a 21-point lead to the Knicks in a loss last Sunday, lost to a Celtics team missing the majority of their starters, then were behind by double digits in the second half at home to New York Friday night. Fortunately, they finally righted the ship, holding the Knicks to 15 points in the fourth quarter to come back for the victory. A similar story played out in Brooklyn the next night, with the Sixers erasing a double-digit advantage for the new-look Nets by holding Brooklyn to just 16 points in the final frame, squeaking out a three-point win. It was a bleh 2-2 week that could have been so much worse. Let’s dive into the week’s central figures.

New York Knicks v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Embiid weekly line: 32.8 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.0 blocks, 2.8 turnovers

So he’ll be an All-Star starter after all! Congrats to Joel on the honor, as he was selected to replace an injured Kevin Durant as a starter in this month’s All-Star game, with the universe ultimately righting a cosmic wrong. Big picture, it’s not a big deal at all, but you take the little wins where you can get there. As for on the court, this was the second straight week where Embiid was truthfully a notch below his MVP-caliber play, but you still recognize the team would be adrift without him. In the wins against the two NYC teams, Joel cranked up his efficiency, shooting a combined 26-of-36 (72.2 percent) from the field in the two contests. That’s often the difference for this Sixers club. First two games this week: Embiid averages 29.5 points, kind of going through the motions, two losses. Second two games: 36 points per game, highly surgical, a pair of dubs. Jabari Smith Jr knows what he is going to have to deal with:

New York Knicks v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Harden weekly line: 21.8 points, 6.3 points, 10.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.8 blocks, 2.3 turnovers

In what was a down week for James in terms of outside shooting, Harden nudging up the at-rim and free throw numbers from season averages were promising developments. His 9-of-9 line from the charity stripe against Brooklyn was among his higher outputs on the season in that department. Of course, Harden’s primary contribution continued to be as a playmaker, where he zips full-court passes on the money and probes the defense to create one open look after another for his teammates. Unfortunately, unlike Joel, James did not have his All-Star-related snub rectified, with Pascal Siakam getting the injury replacement slot in the East. As we know all too well in Philadelphia, you can’t win ‘em all.

New York Knicks v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Maxey weekly line: 14.3 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.0 turnovers

Maxey is here for speaking his truth, which coincided with being the spark that ignited the Sixers’ turnaround this week. He scored 27 points, hit five threes, and tallied three steals to lead the charge in the comeback over the Knicks. After the game, he opened up about how the switch to a bench role had been weighing on him, and how a long conversation with his parents and a text from Kentucky’s Coach Cal helped him get his mind right and break out of his recent slump. Kudos to Tyrese for continuing to push through and be a team-first guy, doing what his squad asks of him and finding moments to still be a game-changer. I would end the bench experiment sooner rather than later, though. Honorary Sixer of the week nominations go to Mr. and Mrs. Maxey, for their pep talk and for raising a loveable guy like Tyrese.


Who is our latest Sixer of the Week?

This poll is closed

  • 67%
    Joel Embiid
    (52 votes)
  • 14%
    James Harden
    (11 votes)
  • 18%
    Tyrese Maxey
    (14 votes)
77 votes total Vote Now

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