Ah, what a week it was for the Philadelphia 76ers. It was easily their best week of the young season and it wasn’t just because of their play on the court. The team acquired 2x All-Star Jimmy Butler from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second round pick. Philadelphia also received injured big man Justin Patton.
I’ll get more into Butler later, but first, let’s talk about what happened on the hardwood. The Sixers got their week rolling with an impressive 100-94 win over the Indiana Pacers. It was their first road win of the year. It was also the best start to a game all year. The Sixers quickly jumped out to a 19-4 lead. Joel Embiid led the way, finishing with 20 points, but it was the resurrection of Dario Saric that propelled the Sixers to this win. Saric finished with a season high 18 points on 6/13 shooting including 4/6 from three. Landry Shamet also picked up the slack with JJ Redick really struggling in this one. Shamet’s shooting numbers really haven’t been that good away from the Wells Fargo Center so it was good to see him break out of that. The rookie made three of his six attempts from deep including a huge triple right before halftime. Mike Muscala didn’t play in the game due to a broken nose he suffered in practice the day before.
The Sixers would return home to face off against the Charlotte Hornets for the second time already this season. And for the second time this season, it would come right down to the end. Despite the Sixers having a 21 point third quarter lead, the Hornets managed to send it to overtime. The Sixers really controlled the overtime period, but were unable to put the Hornets completely away. But Ben Simmons killed off any hope the Hornets had after his close out block on Kemba Walker’s game tying three point attempt with 16.8 seconds left. The Sixers were actually fortunate enough not to lose this game in regulation. Joel Embiid took four trips to the line in the last 2:46 alone. He eventually hit the game tying three with 33.6 seconds to go in regulation. The guy is incredible. He finished with a season high 42 points. The Sixers are now 7-0 at home.
The lineups Brett Brown chose to go to were interesting. We got an early look at Jonah Bolden who buried a three pointer to close out the first quarter. He continued to use various small ball lineups which we first saw against Indiana. Also, Serena Winters reported pregame that she had a feeling the Sixers starting lineup was going to change soon.
We didn’t know it at the time, but it was all in preparation for Jimmy Butler. Minnesota agreed to the deal Saturday morning. The Sixers finally got their star that they were so desperately hunting for. We’ve talked about the idea of Jimmy Butler coming here for months, but now that it’s happened, it just doesn’t feel real.
We gotta get Jimmy to Philly so he can play with some alphas in Ben & Jo https://t.co/EH0b83s0QR
— FULTZ SZN (@danmcguckin_) October 26, 2018
The Sixers has a game to play on this day, though. They flew down to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies. The Sixers were without Saric, Covington and Muscala for obvious reasons. They were also without Wilson Chandler. He still isn’t playing back to backs yet since coming back from his hamstring strain. So, Brett Brown had just nine guys available. This one wasn’t going to be easy. But the Sixers held a 13 point halftime advantage thanks to JJ Redick breaking out of his short slump and Furkan Korkmaz filling it up from deep. The Sixers actually got a lot of positive minutes out of their shorthanded roster. Markelle Fultz had his most efficient game of the season. TJ McConnell was huge down the stretch and Ben Simmons did Ben Simmons things. Mike Conley and the Grizzlies managed to scratch and claw their way back into the game to send it to overtime where they went onto win 112-106. The Sixers were visibly running on fumes. Back to back are not easy. Especially when both games need an extra five minutes to determine a winner. Conley finished with a season high 32 points in the contest.
The Sixers ended their week with a date against the Miami Heat. Help was on the way. Mike Muscala would finally return the floor, but is wearing a mask to protect his surgically repaired nose. Wilson Chandler was also available and we learned it would be his last game with a minutes restriction. This big story in the 124-114 win was the outburst by JJ Redick and Furkan Korkmaz AGAIN. Redick shot 11/20 from the field for 25 points and Furkan scored a career high 16 points on 5/9 shooting including 3/6 from three. It’s really a shame the Sixers declined Korkmaz’s third year option last month. But with the acquisition of Butler, the Sixers are in need of shooters and this is Korkmaz’s audition. It’s looking like he is going to land himself some regular rotation minutes.
A big thing I’ve noticed thus far this season that I feel like isn’t talked about enough is Joel Embiid getting superstar treatment from the officials. Sure, he gets fouled a lot because it’s the only way for the opposition to slow him down a bit, but there’s been a lot of times where he barely gets touched and the whistle is blown. Between Embiid and Jimmy Butler, the Sixers are going to shoot around 40 free throws every night. They already rank 11th in the NBA in free throw percentage.