The Philadelphia 76ers didn't get too much rest time this weekend as their busy week continues. On Monday, Philadelphia took a late-notice trip to Houston as they were re-scheduled to face the Rockets earlier than initially anticipated.
Considering the Sixers just faced the Rockets a week prior, they knew their opponent well. Philly took care of business on the road to start the week and picked up the seventh-straight win of their current impressive stretch.
As they exceeded their season-high win streak, the Sixers looked to make it eight in a row at home on Wednesday night against the Charlotte Hornets. However, their opponent had a chip on their shoulder as the Sixers defeated them twice in their house already this season.
The Sixers couldn't protect the Wells Fargo Center in South Philly on Wednesday. As they were flat out outplayed, the Hornets issued the Sixers their first loss of the new year by picking up a 109-98 victory.
After getting knocked off their high horse, the Sixers looked to bounce back against the Boston Celtics on Friday. From the jump, the 76ers were the better team. Although they engaged in close battles with the Celtics twice earlier in the year, Friday's game was a blowout win for the Sixers as they collected their 24th win of the season.
Less than 24 hours of wrapping up their matchup against Boston, the Sixers tipped off with the Heat in Miami. Philly got off to a slower start than usual as they were outscored by nine points in the first quarter.
While they picked up their play slightly in the second quarter, the Sixers still trailed the Heat at halftime 50-43. In the third quarter, though, the Sixers picked it up by scoring 32 points and holding the Heat to just 23. After getting out in front late in the quarter, the Sixers entered the fourth in the lead.
At that point, the Sixers didn't look back. Leading by as many as 14 points, the Sixers played a phenomenal fourth quarter as they drained over 60-percent of their shots. They outscored Miami 34-25 and picked themselves up another win by taking down the second-place Heat 109-98.
76ers vs. Heat Player Observations
Korkmaz’s roller coaster of a season continues. While he’s had some impressive outings lately, Korkmaz has also struggled to contribute in the department he’s expected to be productive in with his three-point shooting. On Saturday, Korkmaz went 0-2 from beyond the arc. He was the lone starter that failed to notch double digits in scoring as he wrapped up the night with six points.
Doc Rivers said after the game that the Sixers surely don’t win that game without Tobias Harris and he isn’t wrong. Harris checked in for over 40 minutes. He was efficient from the field as he drained nine of his 13 shots. Although Harris has been struggling from three as of late, he hit on all three of his attempts from beyond the arc. Plus, his rebounding was a huge help. In the end, he wrapped up the night with 22 points, eight rebounds, and three assists.
The big man had an unusually quiet start to the game as he had just seven points in the first half. But when it came to crunch time, Embiid turned his play up a notch. In less than 20 minutes on the floor in the final two quarters, Embiid collected 25 points. He made all but two of his 11 shots in the second half and was a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line. Per usual, Embiid scored a game-high of 32 points and had another worthy performance to add to his MVP campaign.
Once again, Seth Curry put up nearly ten three-pointers. And once again, Curry’s shooting was sharp as he went 5-9 from deep. The trio of Embiid, Harris, and Curry doesn’t always click — but when it does, the Sixers can compete with anybody. In 40 minutes on the floor, Curry snagged 21 points off of 15 shots. He also had five assists and two steals on defense as well.
Coming off of a highly-impressive performance at home, Maxey had a quiet night on Saturday. From the field, he drained just four of his 11 shots and knocked down one three. Typically, Maxey isn’t one to turn the ball over but he had a pair of turnovers, which was uncharacteristic. While Maxey didn’t flash much on offense, he made a couple of nice defensive plays and finished the game with two blocks and seven rebounds on the defensive end.
The veteran forward has been pretty quiet lately, but he was a significant spark off of the Sixers’ bench on Saturday night in the second half. At halftime, Philly’s bench had a single point. Without Niang, the bench would’ve finished the night off with three points. However, Niang’s 12 points in the second half was huge for Philly. He drained 50-percent of his threes and collected two assists and five rebounds before fouling out in 24 minutes.
Saturday was one of those nights where the starters just had to put in some extra time as the bench wasn’t getting it done. Drummond appeared on the court for only 11 minutes. He went to the free throw line and split his two shots. That ended up being his only point for the night. Shockingly, Drummond was quiet on the boards as he collected just four rebounds. Every now and then Drummond has a performance like he did on Saturday where he doesn’t have much of an impact. It shouldn’t be anything to worry about.
Charlie Brown Jr.
The young two-way guard doesn’t fill up the stat sheet, but he continues to impress with his athleticism and his defense. Brown probably won’t get much playing time when Shake Milton returns to the lineup, but he’s taking advantage of his current opportunity and earning trust from his new coaches.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.