PHILADELPHIA–The Philadelphia 76ers returned home from a five-game road trip on Wednesday and they played host to former star point guard Ben Simmons and the Brooklyn Nets. Simmons was greeted with heavy boos from the Sixers fans in what was a charged atmosphere the entire night.
In the end, the Sixers were able to come away with a wild 137-133 win over the short-handed Nets who were missing Kevin Durant due to injury. Philadelphia was able to get contributions from up and down the roster as it was the definition of a team win in this one. The Sixers saw a 17-point lead slip away as the Nets put on a furious comeback, but Philadelphia was able to escape late.
Joel Embiid had 26 points and 10 rebounds for the Sixers, James Harden added 23 points and seven assists, De’Anthony Melton added 19 and three blocks, and Tobias Harris added 18. Tyrese Maxey had 27 and five assists and Matisse Thybulle had 10 and three steals off the bench.
Here are the player grades following the win:
James Harden: B+
The game started the same way a lot of games start for Harden. He was getting his teammates involved and feeding the hot had as well as open shooters. He didn’t take many shots, but he was able to get to the free-throw line and get his points that way. To his credit, he knocked down some timely 3-pointers, especially in the fourth quarter when the Nets rallied, and he just played his role on a night where the focus was squarely on Embiid and Simmons. Harden continues to round into form a bit and that’s something Philadelphia will obviously lean on going forward. It just would have been nice to see him shoot more in a matchup like this one.
De’Anthony Melton: A+
It was a terrific start for Melton as he knocked down a couple of open 3s, he was all over the place defensively in terms of getting deflections. He had a big night on the offensive end and he was terrifying on defense. Just another night’s work for Mr. Do Something. The elite two-way ability of Melton is such an important factor when it comes to this team’s success.
Tobias Harris A
The start for Harris was a good one as he knocked down a wide-open corner 3-pointer. After that, he just did what Harris does. He played solid defense, he played within the game plan, and he had some really nice passes where he didn’t get rewarded with an assist. There were a few times when he was able to back down some of the smaller Nets and be able to free himself for easy baskets as well. He also made some big plays in the fourth quarter in order to help the Sixers gain some separation.
PJ Tucker: B+
This was an aggressive tucker game. He was constantly sticking his nose amongst the trees to pull down tough rebounds and create extra possessions for the Sixers on the offensive end of the floor. He also was getting to the free-throw line due to the havoc he was causing in the paint to begin the game. The Nets had trouble containing him. He also defended Simmons really well and bothered him with his toughness and defensive ability.
The entire arena came alive when Embiid was switched onto Simmons for the first time since the deal and the big fella missed his first shot attempt, a right-handed hook shot, but there were fouls called. Simmons and the Nets picked up three fouls on four Embiid post-ups and it led to Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn picking up a technical foul. Overall, it did seem that the big fella was trying to do too much and he forced some bad shots. He looked at Simmons and he was like a kid in a candy store and he tried to do a lot out on the floor. That led to some poor plays, but he did just enough to lead Philadelphia in this one.
Tyrese Maxey A
The night didn’t start well for Maxey as he fouled Seth Curry while he knocked down a triple and he lost his man a bit defensively to start this one, but he was able to make up for it on the offensive end by knocking down a triple of his own and getting into the paint. He then got into a big groove in the second quarter as he got some very friendly bounces on some 3-pointers. He had a very nice night in this one. The way he can put the ball in the basket is such a huge addition to the bench unit.
Matisse Thybulle: A+
This was an important game for Thybulle. The Nets are a very explosive team on the offensive end and it was up to Thybulle to corral guys like Kyrie Irving on the perimeter. Nobody really stops Irving, but Thybulle did a really good job of bothering him and he was terrifying in the passing lanes as he was getting a ton of deflections. He also knocked down a corner triple which is always something the Sixers will take from him. He then knocked down another triple in the second half and he flew to the basket for a slam as well.
Shake Milton: B+
The initial run for Milton was big as he was getting into the paint and being aggressive. He finished at the rim for a layup and he also drew more attention which led to baskets for others. He wasn’t great defensively, but it wasn’t terrible either. He had a nice night all-around for Philadelphia’s bench unit.
Montrezl Harrell: B-
After his comments about Nets big man Nic Claxton, all eyes were on the matchup between Harrell and Claxton and Harrell went right at him in his initial run. Harrell had him on the low block and he spun past him for an easy layup. He wasn’t great defensively, but he brought a lot of energy and he was able to produce on offense.
Georges Niang: B-
The initial run for Niang didn’t produce anything as he missed an open triple, but he was solid on the defensive end. He had some really nice moments on that end which is rare to see from The Minivan on any given night. He had a big defensive stand on Simmons in the fourth quarter which led to Simmons then picking up a technical foul after his frustration with him.