3 observations after Sixers come again to beat Pacers, earn first win with out Joel Embiid

The Sixers appeared destined for a fifth loss in 5 video games with out Joel Embiid this season on Sunday evening. The script was a simple and acquainted one to put in writing. 

Then, with its All-Star heart sidelined by again tightness, the staff pulled off an incredible fourth-quarter turnaround, getting back from a 20-point second-half deficit to beat the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 119-110.

Ben Simmons had 21 factors, seven assists, six rebounds, 4 steals and two blocks. Tobias Harris recorded 27 factors and eight rebounds within the win for the Sixers, who improved to 15-6 this season.

Harris scored 10 factors on 4-for-5 taking pictures within the ultimate interval and now apparently has a Chappelle’s Present-inspired nickname.

“When Tobias got here into the sport, I went to him,” Dwight Howard stated. “I stated, ‘Hey, don’t settle. No one can guard you on the ground. Don’t settle. Go get buckets.’ And he did that. He didn’t settle, he attacked the basket, he put stress on the rim, put stress on the refs, and he made massive photographs and massive performs. I name him Prince Harris, as a result of for the final recreation, it was ‘Recreation, blouses’ in opposition to the Lakers. So, now he’s Prince Harris.”

The Sixers will return to motion Wednesday with a matchup in opposition to the Hornets, the ultimate contest of their three-game street journey. Listed below are observations on their win Sunday evening: 

Bradley begins, Simmons sees time at heart 

Tony Bradley acquired his first begin of the season as head coach Doc Rivers most well-liked to maintain Howard with the staff’s second unit.


The fourth-year massive man had a difficult project in opposition to an All-Star in Domantas Sabonis, however he held his personal to open the sport, partially as a result of the Sixers have been lucky that Sabonis missed a couple of open pick-and-pop jumpers. Nonetheless, Bradley appeared strong sufficient and didn’t seem to do a lot improper, though Indiana uncovered his lack of foot pace a bit extra after halftime. 

The Sixers’ collective vitality and normal readiness to play wasn’t a problem the best way it had been of their loss Monday evening to the Pistons, they usually jumped out to an 8-0 lead. The staff’s early taking pictures woes from Friday’s recreation in opposition to the Timberwolves then resurfaced as Indiana went on a 14-2 run and the Sixers missed 12 of their first 17 subject purpose makes an attempt. 

Maybe looking to see if one other technique may shift the sport’s momentum, Rivers inserted Simmons at heart within the second quarter. Whereas that lineup didn’t fare badly, the Sixers couldn’t set up clear benefits on both finish of the ground. Rim safety and an general dearth of inside protection remains to be an apparent deficiency, one Sabonis exploited with a deep seal and end within the paint in opposition to Harris. 

As a change of tempo or possibility in conditions when Howard is particularly ill-suited to play, it is smart that Rivers would need to strive Simmons on the 5. In the mean time, nonetheless, it is not a magic bullet.

“I liked it, however we simply aren’t organized, truthfully,” Rivers stated. “(Assistant coach) Dave Joerger, we have been actually going bonkers on the issues we noticed that we couldn’t do with (Simmons) on the 5. And it’s too unhealthy. We simply haven’t had observe time.

“Within the fourth quarter, Dave grabs me and he says, ‘I don’t care what we do in these (upcoming) two days of observe, we’re going with Ben on the 5 for at the very least 10 minutes.’ We’ve spent in all probability 5 minutes all 12 months on it. We simply haven’t had sufficient time to work on it. There’s issues that I noticed tonight that I feel we will be very efficient at with it.”

Bench comes up massive within the fourth 

Howard was an energetic rebounder and bodily display setter as standard, although free throw taking pictures remained a weak point for the 35-year-old. After a 5-for-12 evening on the foul line, he’s made 48.4 p.c of his free throws this season. He completed with 11 factors and 15 rebounds in 25 minutes.

On these Embiid-less nights, the Sixers positive may use particular efforts from their complementary gamers. It did not seem that was going to occur Sunday as Danny Inexperienced and Seth Curry mixed to shoot 6 for 17.

Matisse Thybulle’s protection wasn’t as glowing within the first half Sunday as in current video games. Throughout his preliminary stint, he was overwhelmed again door by Brogdon and, unable to get on prime of a ball display, conceded a pull-up three-pointer to the Pacers guard. 


Furkan Korkmaz misplaced his particular person matchup in opposition to Doug McDermott within the opening half, failing to trace him off the ball on a number of events. 

Nonetheless, Thybulle and Korkmaz each made loads of pivotal performs throughout the Sixers’ fourth-quarter surge, together with Thybulle taking a cost on Aaron Vacation, blocking a T.J. McConnell layup try and turning a steal right into a Korkmaz fast-break three. Thybulle’s elite means to pressure turnovers helps open the door for some of these unbelievable turnarounds. 

The younger wing duo closed the sport and performed vital roles within the Sixers’ wild comeback. Korkmaz scored a season-high 17 factors and Thybulle had 4 steals and two blocks. 

Trying to find stops, discovering them late 

Whether or not or not the league’s finest post-up participant is out there, it’s robust to win video games wherein the opposition scores 95 factors via three quarters. What went improper for the Sixers’ protection for a lot of the recreation? Embiid’s absence is the no-brainer reply, together with sturdy video games from Brogdon and Sabonis.

Schematically, the Sixers had way more luck within the fourth interval with a 2-3 zone that gave Indiana bother. The staff did effectively to create turnovers from that zone and continued to compete onerous even when going through a big deficit.

Rivers and the Sixers deserve heaps of credit score for switching up the protection and executing so successfully with a glance they have not used fairly often this season.

Dan Burke, the Sixers’ defensive coordinator and a longtime assistant with the Pacers, raised the thought of utilizing a zone pregame.

“It’s humorous, Dan recalled the sport final 12 months after I was with the Clippers, very comparable, the place we have been down, went zone and received the sport,” Rivers stated. “And we have been speaking about it earlier than the sport. He stated, ‘I do know it’s a distinct staff, however that affected us in Indiana final 12 months.’ He stated, ‘If we get in bother tonight, let’s go to it.'” 

Whereas the Sixers’ success when Embiid performs issues greater than their struggles earlier than Sunday when he sat, the truth that they earned a win with out him and did it with a gritty comeback is a big, confidence-building step.

“I feel for lots of causes, this was an enormous win,” Thybulle stated. “To be down and are available again, to win on the street, to win with out Joel. I feel numerous these causes come collectively to make this an enormous win. All of us really feel fairly good having received it, as a result of we had a sense of how unhealthy it was going to be if we misplaced. We are able to take it and preserve shifting in stride.”

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