The Philadelphia 76ers found themselves back out on the road on Friday taking on the San Antonio Spurs to begin a three-game trip. Following a win at home on Wednesday, Philadelphia was looking to continue its winning ways and begin a new winning streak.
The Spurs gave the Sixers some issues early as they took advantage of Philadelphia essentially sleepwalking in the early going, but a boost from the bench unit in the first half led to the starters then waking up, and Philadelphia walked away with a 137-125 victory . Joel Embiid led the Sixers with 33 points and 10 rebounds in order to get this done on the road.
Following his All-Star snub, James Harden had 16 points and eight assists, Tyrese Maxey had 25 off the bench, De’Anthony Melton added 13 points, and Tobias Harris had eight. Georges Niang added 13 and Shake Milton also had 14 to chip in.
Here are the player grades following the easy win on the road:
It was a sloppy start for Harden as he had a couple of turnovers in the early going, but after the rough patch, he settled in nicely. He was running things well on the offensive end and the Sixers followed his lead. He scored when he had the opportunity, such as knocking down another catch-and-shoot triple in the second half when Embiid was doubled, but the focus as always is to ensure that the offense is flowing and the team has rhythm. That was achieved in this one.
Melton had a good start as he knocked down two triples in the early going. That, along with Embiid’s scoring, allowed the Sixers to settle down a bit after the careless start. The elite two-way guard did a terrific job on both ends of the floor in this one. He has proven to be so valuable to this team on both ends and he has proven to be an underrated offseason addition.
The do-it-all forward out of Tennessee didn’t score until late in the first half, but he made an impact in this one. He was very good defensively and he was able to make a few hustle plays in order to help the Sixers stay in the game when the offense was struggling to find a rhythm early. He should still be involved more in the offense early, but he still was able to contribute. The Spurs weren’t able to figure him out.
PJ Tucker: B-
It was another night where Tucker contributed by doing the little things to help the Sixers succeed. He had a few screens to get teammates open on offense and he was hustling in order to allow Philadelphia to gain some extra possessions on the offensive end of the floor. The negatives were that he wasn’t able to take advantage of the open triples he received from the corner. Overall, it was another nice Tucker game.
Like Harden, Embiid also had a couple of early turnovers in this one. The big fella then realized that he’s the biggest dude on the floor and that it was time to go to work. He had success against Jakob Poeltl and Zach Collins on the offensive end to settle down the offense. He and Harden ran the pick-and-roll to perfection and San Antonio truly had no answers for anything Embiid had to offer. On defense, he was a roamer in the back end which allows him to stay near the rim and be able to call things out.
Tyrese Maxey A
After two miserable shooting nights against Orlando, Maxey was able to get a 3 to drop in the early going. The Spurs, who are so banged up at the moment, don’t have any elite perimeter defenders and they don’t possess a ton of size. That allowed Maxey to get going early. He and Milton ran a very nice-looking fast break in the second quarter as the Spurs looked confused about how to stop the two of them in transition. Overall, Maxey was able to get to the free-throw line often and he gave the Sixers a big spark. He looked like himself again. There were still issues defensively, though.
Georges Niang A
Whenever the Sixers need a bucket, Niang was there to answer the call. When the offense was sputtering a bit in the second quarter, he knocked down a triple and then moved well off the ball in order to get himself an easy layup. He knocked down another triple in the third to gain separation and he also was solid on the defensive end which is an added bonus.
Shake Milton: A
One really has to like the mindset Milton is playing with as of late. When the Sixers are getting an aggressive version of Milton off their bench, then it makes everything go smoothly for that second unit. He and Maxey have to be the ones to drive that group and really be the engine. The lift that he and the rest of the bench unit gave in the first half was hugely important.
Matisse Thybulle: A-
There was a possession in the second quarter when Thybulle had the ball on the perimeter, got pressured by a defender, and then put the ball on the floor which led to him knocking down a floater. That was a nice offensive move by a player who is more defensive-oriented than anything. Oh, speaking of defense, he was very good on that end as well, per usual.
Montrezl Harrell: C+
The veteran was better in this one on the offensive end. He had a few struggles in the previous matchups with the Magic, but he was better offensively on Friday finding holes in San Antonio’s defense and being able to take advantage of the opportunities presented to him. As is usual at this point though, he had a tough time on defense. The Spurs went right at him when Embiid was off the floor. Thats going to be an issue when the playoffs roll around and the big fella is off the floor.