Ben Simmons returned Monday night after a four-game absence with an illness and recorded 12 points, four assists, three steals and two blocks in a 121-90 Philadelphia 76ers win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Sixers lost all four games that Simmons missed. The Thunder have now lossed 14 consecutive games.
Joel Embiid posted 21 points, five rebounds, and three steals.
The Sixers are now a game behind the Eastern Conference-leading Nets at 40-21.
Here’s three takeaways:
Simmons returns and only adds positivity
Within 30 seconds, Simmons assisted on a Furkan Korkmaz jumper with a fast-break drive-and-kick dish. Even without a jump shot that worries opponents, Simmons draws so much attention when he attacks the paint.
Matisse Thybulle and Simmons teamed up for some of their usual open-floor fireworks at the end of the first half.
The Sixers as a team forced a season-high 30 turnovers.
The opposition entered Monday’s game having turned the ball over 19.4 percent of the time when Simmons and Thybulle were on the court, per Cleaning the Glass. As a point of reference, the league-worst Cavs have a 15.9 turnover percentage.
Embiid plays through shoulder issue
After missing Saturday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks with right shoulder soreness, it seemed like Embiid might sit Monday, too. His status was in question until about 30 minutes before tip-off.
Embiid’s shoulder did not cause any noticeable problems with his shot. He was efficient (six-for-10 from the floor, seven-for-nine from the foul line) and in command against 21-year-old Moses Brown.
Embiid grabbed at his shoulder following a collision in the third quarter. It’s clear he’s not 100%, although it’s likely safe to assume he wouldn’t have been cleared if he was dealing with a potentially serious injury.
Next up for the 40-21 Sixers is a two-game mini-series vs. the 34-28 Atlanta Hawks that begins Wednesday night.