2023 Sixer of the Week Award Winners:
Joel Embiid - 5
James Harden - 1
Mac McClung - 1
It was a week of high highs and low lows for our Philadelphia 76ers. Monday’s listless loss to Miami was particularly discouraging, especially coming off the heartbreaking defeat to the Celtics two nights earlier. But the Sixers bounced back to trounce those same Heat in South Beach two nights later, even without the services of Joel Embiid. As George Constanza would say, “Even steven!” One night later, though, we had a ‘schedule loss’ in the road back-to-back in Dallas, where the defense took a load management game off. However, everything turned around again on Saturday night, with the Sixers coming back from 18 points down in the second half to end the Bucks’ NBA-best, 16-game winning streak. Do you know what to make of this Sixers team? If so, enlighten me. Let’s get to Sixer of the Week.
Tyrese Maxey weekly line: 26.3 PTS, 2.5 RBS, 2.8 ASTS, 0.8 STLS, 0.8 TOS
Tyrese Maxey, a starter once more! Doc Rivers finally reinserted Maxey back into the opening introductions for Wednesday’s game in Miami, and the young guard responded with three straight games of at least 26 points. Taking the floor with the confidence we saw early in the season that garnered “Could he be an All-Star?” buzz, Maxey shot 54.2 percent from three for the week, streaked up and down the court in transition, and countered closeouts in the half court with some electric finishes to the basket. The Tyrese second-half surge is quickly becoming a nightly occurrence. I like the idea of Maxey attacking those tired legs by hitting the NOS button.
James Harden weekly line: 27.0 PTS, 6.5 RBS, 10.0 ASTS, 0.8 STLS, 0.3 BLKS, 3.8 TOS
The Beard was fine-to-good all week — he scored at least 20 points in the first three games. But let’s be honest, he’s on this list because of his supernova explosion in the comeback victory over Milwaukee. Harden scored a Sixers-high 38 points against the Bucks, also falling one rebound shy of a triple-double. His 19 points in the fourth quarter completely turned things around, including the huge top-of-the-key three to bring the Sixers within one in the closing moments. Without James hopping into the time machine to bring back his MVP self, the vibes around this week would be completely different.
Story of Sixers-Bucks 4th quarter was James Harden and the Sixers hunting and creating mismatches in a variety of ways.— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) March 5, 2023
Philly exploited Milwaukee's perimeter issues, particularly that it has quite a few rotation players who can struggle to defend in space: pic.twitter.com/gCfzY5Igsp
Paul Reed weekly line: 7.0 PTS, 5.5 RBS, 0.5 ASTS, 0.3 STLS, 1.0 BLKS, 0.0 TOS
I hope everyone is enjoying the victory tour. Paul Reed’s time as the undisputed Joel Embiid backup has arrived (until Doc Rivers changes his mind again, possibly). Reed is settling in nicely, looking more at home within the consistent role, even without getting respect from the officials. BBall Paul had a huge outing in Joel’s absence on Wednesday, racking up 16 points and a career-high 14 rebounds, which prompted some national attention in Zach Lowe’s column a couple days later. Could the answer to the Sixers’ backup dilemma been hiding in plain sight all this time? (The collective Sixers blogosphere sighs while nodding vigorously.)
Joel Embiid weekly line: 31.0 PTS, 8.7 RBS, 4.3 ASTS, 0.7 STLS, 0.3 BLKS, 3.3 TOS
Sandwiched around taking the game in Miami off for load management on Wednesday, it was a pair of B-minus performances for Joel in his first two games of the week, which for him, means averaging 31 points because he’s extraordinary. But Joel kicked it up a notch on the national stage, supplementing another 31 points with a season-high-tying 10 assists on Saturday night against Milwaukee. Embiid drained the go-ahead three-pointer in the final minute, then locked down Giannis to force a travel and basically seal the game. The Sixers have now won two of three against the Bucks this season — you feel OK about that potential playoff matchup, definitely moreso than Boston.
EMBIID FOR THE LEAD— NBA (@NBA) March 5, 2023
Sixers up by 4 with 0:25 remaining on ABC! pic.twitter.com/NyizR8SRGE
Who is the Sixer of the Week as we enter March?
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