Saturday night’s contest between the Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves won’t be the biggest storyline of the weekend thanks to Bryce Harper and the Phillies teeing off on the Atlanta Braves…again. However, our guys got a win without Joel Embiid and that’s a plus no matter who the opponent is.
Prior to last night’s game, reports came out that Joel Embiid would miss the entire three game road trip due to load management. I think it’s pretty smart on the Sixers’ part to sit him out against three non playoff teams. Especially when you have a huge game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, which comes on the second night of a back to back. Fans can nitpick all they want and say Embiid should be playing so that the guys can continue to build chemistry, but the most important thing is getting a fresh and healthy Embiid to the playoffs. This team is good. Really good. They’ll be okay when the playoffs arrive in a few weeks.
With the big man out, the Sixers would obviously need their other stars to step up. That was not the case with Jimmy Butler. While he made some nice plays defensively, it seemed like he was trying to do too much on the offensive end. I don’t know if it was his back that was bothering him all night, but something was just off with him offensively. But in the end, he’s 2-0 against his old mates.
The Sixers would get huge contributions from Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and even Jonah Bolden, who probably had the best game of his young career. Simmons and Harris are a matchup nightmare for Minnesota. But then again, so is everybody. But seriously, the Wolves have no one on their roster that can stick with them. Simmons was able to get inside whenever he wanted and had has his fingerprints all over this one on both ends. It was also good to see Harris break out of his slump a bit. Hopefully he begins to heat up at the right time.
How about Jonah Bolden? It was pretty impressive to see the rookie step in and start and play like he hasn’t missed a beat. He finished with a career-high 19 points and knocked down five of his seven threes. If he plays well on this road trip, he could play his way into some minutes in the postseason. He ended being the team’s bell ringer last night!
— * – Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) March 31, 2019
I’m usually pretty lenient when it comes to the Sixers giving up leads because I’m a firm believer in basketball being a game of runs. It’s not often you’re going to shut a team down for 48 straight minutes. But I thought this game was much closer than it needed to be. Minnesota isn’t going to the playoffs. They’re playing for nothing. You had them right where you wanted them in the first half. You have to come out and knock them out clean in the third quarter.
Next up for the Sixers is an April Fools day matchup against the Dallas Mavericks.