Philadelphia 76ers

Oh my goodness. What seemed to be a lousy Wednesday night loss for the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center turned out to be a doozie. For whatever reason, both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons were not on the floor for a two minute period during the 4th quarter and the San Antonio Spurs capitalized. Bryn Forbes found Marco Belinelli in the corner who knocked down the three to give the Spurs a six point lead with 4:54 remaining. He wasn’t done, though. Derrick White found Belinelli fading to the right in the same corner and he buried what seemed to be the dagger with 2:46 to go. Especially after Wilson Chandler missed a three out of the timeout.

Down eight, the Sixers needed stops more than anything. They had defended horribly all night, so naturally they got stops in crunch time! A huge block from behind by Joel Embiid on DeMar DeRozan led to Ben Simmons finding Landry Shamet for a clutch three to cut the Spurs lead to three. Then, with the Sixers up one, Wilson Chandler met DeRozan at the rim for a game saving block.

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Speaking of Chandler, he’s been much better of late. Brett Brown credited that to him playing more on the wing and being in better shape than he was earlier in the season. Jonah Bolden, like Chandler, has been stepping up and giving the Sixers a lot of good minutes at the back up center spot lately. It looks like he’s finally found his role.

Bolden gives the Sixers exactly what they needed behind Embiid. Someone who can come in and play defense, run in transition and have the ability to stretch the floor.

I, like many others, have heavily criticized the Sixers bench this season and rightly so. However, it looks like it’s starting to really take form here in the second half of the season. Corey Brewer, who is on a 10-Day contract, has given the Sixers nothing, but energy and perimeter defense. He acts as a pest and gets into guy’s heads. He’s had to start in place of Jimmy Butler the last few games, but once he’s moved to the bench he will be a ball of energy the Sixers will need.

If Elton Brand can add a legit stretch four to this bench in place of Mike Muscala, the Sixers could really have a bench to be proud of.

The Sixers present and future was on full display last night. We get too caught up on what Ben Simmons could be, instead of what he already is. An elite passer, great on the boards and when engaged, he is an elite defender. He showed off all of that against the Spurs, en route to his eighth triple double of the season (20th of his career). He also hit a few jumpers!

The same goes for Embiid. LaMarcus Aldridge bothered him most of the night, but he still had the wherewithal to drop 33 points and 19 rebounds.

Ben Simmons said after the game that it’s only their second season playing together; “We’re getting a lot better. It’s kind of scary.”