2023 Sixer of the Week Award Winners:
Joel Embiid - 2
James Harden - 1
The Sixers had a potential 10-game winning streak in their sights. All they had to do was not blow a 21-point lead at home to Orlando. Alas, their then-seven-game winning streak was snapped in Monday’s 119-109 loss to the Magic. Not the first 20-plus-point advantage we’ve seen slip away from Doc Rivers’ club in The Center. Fortunately, our Liberty Ballers regrouped to dispatch those same Magic two nights later, and then scorched the nets against the Spurs for a 137-125 victory on Friday night. Philadelphia now sits at 34-17, just two games back of Boston. However, the Sixers are entering an extremely tough stretch of the schedule, with 11 of their next 12 games against teams currently in playoff positioning. Before we look ahead, though, let’s take a quick look back and determine our latest Sixer of the Week.
Embiid weekly line: 30.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.0 blocks, 3.7 turnovers
The Eastern Conference Player of the Month for January had a fine start to February as well. It’s a testament to his incredible season, however, that we can look at 30.3 points per game this past week, and conclude that Joel had a bit of a down week. Indeed, Embiid was surely due for a bit of a comedown after last Saturday’s marvelous 47-point effort against Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets. So we’ll take these ho-hum 30 and 10 games this week from Joel in stride. He could have done more to help his team avoid the collapse to the Magic, but it was his hot start at the beginning of Wednesday’s game that assured there would be no repeat, and he dropped an efficient 33 points in San Antonio as part of a strong team-wide effort there. The bond between he and James Harden continues to strengthen, which is likely the most important thing for this squad’s postseason ceiling.
James Harden ➕ Joel Embiid A THING OF BEAUTY pic.twitter.com/ZxzOgZ3npI— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) February 4, 2023
Harden weekly line: 19.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 0.3 steals, 4.0 turnovers
I may not be able to right the injustice that was James Harden being left off the list of All-Star reserves this year, but the least I can do is include him among this week’ Sixer of the Week nominees. That being said, like Joel, James had a “just OK” week over the past seven days that was slightly below the high standards he has set for himself this season. Still, the week was not without some top highlights from The Beard, a few of which came during the end of second quarter surge in San Antonio with Harden dropping dimes left and right for the Sixers to break that game open (see the pass to Embiid above). The most encouraging development, though, is Harden’s increased comfort with catch-and-shoot triples, something our Paul Hudrick wrote about earlier this week. Wednesday’s win over the Magic was our best example yet of that narrative, with Harden hitting a season-high six shots from distance, three of which were catch-and-shoot. Every sign of he and Joel merges their games synergistically is cause for celebration.
Thybulle weekly line: 5.3 points, 1.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.0 turnovers
I wanted to give a shoutout to Matisse here with the trade deadline less than a week away, as we’ve had reported interest from the likes of Golden State and Sacramento and I’d put it at better than even money that the former first-round pick has a new home this time next week. Our Bryan Toporek nicely laid out the current dilemma for 76ers decisionmakers: he’s still a helpful player in a reduced role for this team in clear win-now mode, but you also don’t want to potentially lose him for nothing in restricted free agency this summer. Anyway, Thybulle played well this past week, scoring 10 points in the loss to Orlando for only the third time this season, while he and Tyrese Maxey had some really fun moments turning defense into offense together in the second half of the Spurs game. I don’t relish the upcoming decision for Daryl Morey and company here.
Who is our first February Sixer of the Week?
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