After getting off to a solid start this week with a thrilling victory over the Boston Celtics on Monday, the Philadelphia 76ers returned to the court on Thursday night at home.
For the second time this season, they hosted the Atlanta Hawks in South Philly. Although the Hawks were missing a handful of key players, Philadelphia's recent history against shorthanded teams made it apparent that they might struggle against the undermanned Hawks.
Unfortunately, the Sixers didn't prove anybody wrong. As they came out "too casually" against Atlanta as Doc Rivers described it, the Sixers found themselves in a slump. While they were in a position to win, the Sixers couldn't overcome the depleted Hawks at home and picked up their 16th loss of the year on Thursday.
After getting two days off, the Sixers traveled to Washington D.C. and geared up for a game against the Washington Wizards on Monday. Like several of their recent opponents, the Wizards were short a few key players as Washington deals with COVID cases.
Unlike their recent performances, the Sixers felt the need to dominate early. While Washington outscored them in the first quarter, the Sixers remained within arms reach. When the second quarter rolled around, Philadelphia found a way to dominate as they outscored Washington 38-24 in the second quarter and entered halftime in the lead by eight points.
In the third quarter, the Sixers found separation as they built up a lead as big as 23 points. After holding Washington to just 17 points before heading into the final quarter of the night, the Sixers put a few of their key starters on the floor for a few minutes in the fourth quarter to ensure they avoid any second-half collapses.
Eventually, it was clear the game reached garbage time, and the Sixers were on their way to picking up their 17th win of the year. With that victory, the Sixers and the Wizards are now tied in the Eastern Conference as Philly goes up 1-0 over Washington this season, keeping a multi-season win-streal alive.
Now, let's observe the Sixers' individual performances.
76ers vs. Wizards Player Observations
The defensive menace had one of his quieter performances. In nearly 28 minutes of action, Thybulle put up just one shot on the offensive end.
It's been a promising sign to see Thybulle get more aggressive on that end, but he was the only starter to have less than double-digit points on Sunday and he didn't score at all. On a positive note, Thybulle was a plus-29 on the court.
The Sixers have needed Harris to play like a true No. 2 lately, and he did that on Sunday. While Joel Embiid led the pack with his scoring, Harris was an excellent sidekick as he scored 23 points in under 30 minutes.
Although Harris didn't improve his three-point shooting at all as he didn't attempt a single shot from beyond the arc, the Sixers' forward was efficient from the field overall. Getting up 16 shots, Harris drained ten of his field-goal attempts. He also went 3-4 from the free-throw line.
Despite missing the Sixers' morning shootaround session as he was feeling under the weather, Joel Embiid still planned to play in Sunday's matchup. Clearly, some rest did the big man wonders as he came out firing on all cylinders right out of the gate in D.C.
In the first quarter alone, Embiid scored 13 points off of seven shots. He went into halftime with 18 points in 17 minutes. Embiid didn't slow down in the second half. He added another 11 points to his stat line in the third quarter.
Then, during his final three minutes on the court in the fourth quarter, Embiid collected another seven points to wrap up his night with 36 points. He also made it a double-double performance as he came down with 13 rebounds. Not only did Embiid dominate on Sunday, but he got the night off early as he finished the matchup after checking in for 30 minutes.
The young guard's been through a lot lately. Last week, he was battling a quad contusion, which Maxey admitted was still sore after returning in Thursday night's game against the Atlanta Hawks.
In addition to his quad soreness, Maxey dealt with an emergency over the two-day break and found himself entered into the NBA's health and safety protocols for a day. Fortunately, Maxey was cleared for action on Sunday afternoon and checked in for 33 minutes against the Wizards.
He put up 11 shots, draining five of them. After going 2-2 from the free-throw line as well, Maxey wrapped up Sunday night's game with 13 points. It wasn't one of Maxey's spectacular performances, but he helped contribute to his team's win by taking care of the ball and becoming one of five players to score double digits.
The sharpshooter has had much better nights. This season, Seth Curry has been incredibly efficient from the field for the Sixers in a lot of games. But Sunday night's performance wasn't his sharpest.
Curry attempted eight three-pointers, which was a positive sign as the Sixers want him shooting at a higher volume. However, he only knocked down three of his attempts. Overall, Curry went 4-14 from the field, scoring 11 points.
It's been a while since Furkan Korkmaz has looked deserving of minutes in Philadelphia's regular rotation. His multi-game hiatus didn't help him look much better in his first game back on Thursday, but Korkmaz had a decent performance on Sunday night.
He received just 14 minutes of playing time, but the Turkish sharpshooter made every minute count. He went 5-9 from the field and collected 14 points.
While he drained just two of the six three-pointers he attempted, it was clear Korkmaz felt more confident on Sunday. Now, he must remain consistent to avoid losing his spot in the rotation when the Sixers get fully healthy again.
For the first time in four games, Georges Niang took the court after getting cleared from the NBA's health and safety protocol. He checked in for 17 minutes and went 2-6 from the field. After draining 50-percent of his threes, Niang wrapped up his first game back with six points.
In his second game with the Sixers, Tyler Johnson came off the bench for a little over 16 minutes. He didn't get many scoring opportunities, but Johnson once again showed he was eager to shoot when he could.
The veteran went 2-4 from the field and knocked down his lone three-point attempt. He wrapped up the night with five points. Johnson might not be around the Sixers for long, but he's been giving them some quality veteran minutes so far.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.