October 4, 2023

3 takeaways after Seth Curry’s monster quarter leads 76ers to win over Thunder


AP Photo/Nate Billings

After some late-game problems in a loss Friday night to Brooklyn, the 76ers earned a 115-103 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Paycom Center Sunday night. 

Seth Curry scored 28 points, 23 in the first quarter. Joel Embiid had 22 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three blocks.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander matched up with fellow Kentucky product Tyrese Maxey and posted 29 points and eight assists for Oklahoma City. 

The Sixers advance to 2-1.

Here are three takeaways.

Curry hot streaks

Seth Curry got off to yet another very hot start, and it might just be the new norm for him.

Curry went 6-for-7 from three in the first quarter and scored 23 points in the quarter.

*went off. My keyboard has been waked

It’s appeared as if Curry is putting up practice jumpers, just with perhaps more intensity. The defense has hardly ever seemed to impact his form.

A dip in efficiency is going top happen, although Curry has a better shot at a historic year than most. Somewhere around 45% from distance is a realistic expectation — and excellent, of course — but maybe Curry’s got something even better going on this season. We’ll see.

The Sixers tried to run offense through Curry as a ball handler after the first quarter, but he couldn’t find as many openings and also missed decent looks. 

Across the board, the Sixers lost some focus during the middle portion of the game, allowing Oklahoma City to keep it competitive. They committed a few costly turnovers late in the second quarter and broke down several times in transition defense. Meanwhile, the Sixers scored no fast-break points.

As a team, the Sixers made 17-of-41 threes. Danny Green was 3-for-5 after three fourth-quarter air balls Friday.

Embiid says no

Joel Embiid played through the right knee soreness that’s been an issue since a knee-to-knee collision Wednesday in New Orleans. Andre Drummond and Shake Milton missed the game with right ankle sprains. Ben Simmons (personal reasons) and Grant Riller (left knee injury recovery) were still sidelined, too. 

Embiid looked really stinking good (and speedy) dribbling coast to coast and kicking the ball out to Curry for a corner three that gave the Sixers a 6-0 lead. And he rose high to deny Darius Bazley, who made the bold choice to try to dunk over Embiid.

Embiid did a lot more than block attempted poster slams, as his numbers indicate, including hit the open man consistently when double teamed.

However, the Sixers’ spacing around Embiid was wrong sometimes. Maxey (14 points on 4-for-13 shooting) caught the ball on the move and in a no man’s land between the dunker spot and behind the arc on one especially noticeable example of good spacing. It hasn’t been natural for players like Maxey and Green to occupy the dunker spot — head coach Doc Rivers’ preference — instead of going out to the perimeter when Embiid gets the ball. 

Switching up Embiid’s backup

With the absence of Drummond, Paul Reed played at center and recorded two points, five rebounds, and two assists in 10 minutes. He matched up with Villanova product Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.

Reed had a nice sequence early in the fourth, blocking a shot and then converting a put-back layup shortly after. He set Georges Niang up for a three after grabbing an offensive board, too. 

Niang briefly played at center in the second and fourth but was mostly used as a power forward. He had a nice night, scoring 12 points and nailing 3-of-4 three-point tries. Not at all surprising, but he’s brought far more to the table than Mike Scott. 

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