2023 Sixer of the Week Award Winners:
Joel Embiid - 7
James Harden - 2
Mac McClung - 1
Forces are conspiring against the Philadelphia 76ers as they head down the home stretch of this regular season. The team went 1-3 this week, losing both ends of a road back-to-back against the Warriors and Suns, and splitting a pair against the Chicago Bulls. James Harden played just once (very poorly) due to a sore Achilles. Joel Embiid picked up some calf soreness to add to the laundry list of ailments he’s gamely battling through this season.
Things could have been much better this week. If Harden had been healthy, or even if the team had sat him and given his minutes to a healthy teammate, the Sixers surely win what turned out to be a double-overtime loss to the Bulls. Philadelphia also had a sizable lead over the Warriors heading into the fourth quarter. Alas, you are what your record says. With the Sixers now two games back of Boston with the Celtics holding the tiebreaker, the two seed dream might be dead. The Sixers may need to shift to ensuring everyone is healthy for the postseason at the expense of some late-season wins. Let’s choose our Sixer of the Week from this mess.
Tyrese Maxey: 25.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.3 blocks, 1.5 turnovers
One guy who still looks to have his legs approaching the end of this long regular season is the 22-year-old Maxey. With March Madness going on, and Tyrese having his opportunity at participating in the tournament struck down by COVID, he’s showing he would have been a force to be reckoned with this month. A strong week was capped off by a masterclass in Phoenix, in which Maxey tallied his second-highest point total of the season with 37 points, shooting 14-of-19 from the field, including 7-of-11 from three (insert your very own ‘he’s always open’ joke here). Not only did Tyrese drain a total of 17 three-pointers across the four games, but he did a nice job as a distributor in James Harden’s absence, with a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio on the week. Imagine ever thinking this young man should be coming off the bench.
Tyrese Maxey with the TOUGH And-One pic.twitter.com/mcq3uGrb9I— Sixers Nation (@SixersNationCP) March 25, 2023
Joel Embiid: 30.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.8 blocks, 3.8 turnovers
Aside from the obvious complications of the Sixers’ most important player having yet another minor injury, I hated to see the calf soreness pop up because “Our star center is coming out for the second half because we’re beating you so badly” was shaping up to be hilariously disrespectful. Anyway, good on Jo for toughing it out and appearing in all four contests this week. He tried to drag a one-legged Harden and company to victory over the Bulls, but his 37 points weren’t enough amidst some foul trouble. Ditto for the Warriors game, when he dropped 46 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists in the losing effort. It was fun seeing Embiid taking on more of a playmaking role with Harden out. He had seven assists in just 16 minutes before exiting the second Bulls game, as if to say, “I could be a triple-double center guy too, ya know.” Hopefully, Embiid has enough gas left in the tank for Monday’s big MVP matchup.
Joel Embiid is averaging 37.1 points on 70.8% TS in the 11 full games he's played this month. pic.twitter.com/Ga8YNJvCjg— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) March 25, 2023
Tobias Harris: 17.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.3 blocks, 1.5 turnovers
It’s not the version of him the Sixers need to reach their ceiling, but it was kind of fun to see the old Tobias Harris for few games without Harden. They’re something strangely enjoyable about Tobi backing somebody down for eight seconds to then rise up and drain a contested jumper, as if we’d been transported back to the ‘90’s. Harris made a lot of great reads to kick it out to open teammates, racking up eight assists in the Chicago win. With Tobias shooting 56.8 percent from the field across the four games, you’d can’t deny TobiBall made for some efficient scoring.
Tobias Harris working Klay Thompson pic.twitter.com/3tqtahufAw— Barstool Philly (@BarstoolPhilly) March 25, 2023
De’Anthony Melton: 14.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.8 steals, 0.5 blocks, 1.0 turnovers
Melton was less effective over the weekend, but we have to give one more nod to the Bulls killer. He combined for nine three-pointers and seven steals across the two games, which was as delightful to watch from a real basketball perspective as I’m sure it was for all the fantasy basketball players rostering D-Melt. It was part of a four-game stretch where Melton tallied at least three steals.
Who was our latest Sixer of the Week?
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