February 7, 2023

3 takeaways after Embiid stays hot, so do 76ers in 6th straight win over Spurs

AP Photo/Chris Szagola

Joel Embiid has been red-hot the past few games, and he and his 76ers stayed hot.

Embiid had 31 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists and led the Sixers to a 119-100 victory over the Spurs.

Seth Curry and Tobias Harris each notched 23 points.

Dejounte Murray posted 27 points and nine assists. 

The Sixers were missing Tyrese Maxey (health and safety protocols), Jaden Springer (health and safety protocols), Paul Reed (health and safety protocols), Shake Milton (back contusion), Isaiah Joe (back pain), and Ben Simmons (personal reasons). 

San Antonio were down Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Derrick White, and Doug McDermott because of health and safety protocols.

Here’s three takeaways:

Walking highlight reel  

The Sixers began the night off with a bang with a Harris layup. Harris made an Iverson cut, then darted backdoor instead of going all the way to the right wing, and Embiid hit him in stride.

Embiid dished another impressive assist a few minutes later, finding Matisse Thybulle (12 points on 5-for-5 shooting, two steals) for a dunk before a San Antonio double team could have any impact.

Speaking of nifty passes, an Embiid over-the-shoulder dime to Thybulle in the second quarter was neat.

As is normal with Embiid, it was automatically obvious that he was better than everyone in the whole arena. He drew two fouls on Jakob Poeltl within two minutes, prompting a quick timeout by Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. An Embiid fadeaway jumper put the Sixers ahead 20-7. He took nine foul shots in the first quarter, while the Spurs took zero. 

Embiid was sharp on defense early, too. He guarded Murray on one switch and stopped him from making any sort of space. Murray ended up committing an up-and-down. 

The Sixers took a large lead, but Embiid didn’t care. He narrowly missed a dunk late in the second quarter over Drew Eubanks. But, he ended up throwing one down on Jock Landale shortly after.

In the third quarter, Embiid added two more crazy dunks to the reel. Here’s my personal favorite:

As was the tweet caption, the man isn’t human.

Good grief

Charlie Brown Jr. (get where I got good grief from) debuted for his hometown team late in the first period and had a crowd-pleasing first stint.

The Saint Joseph’s product, who’s on a 10-day hardship contract, gave the Sixers a 33-14 lead with an and-one layup in transition. He later picked up two steals and looked nimble defensively. The 24-year-old had another positive play in the third quarter, grabbing an offensive rebound and kicking the ball out to Curry for a three. 

Brown’s bright 12 minutes indicate absolutely nothing about his NBA future, but it was a nice night for a local kid. 

“My agent called … and I was kind of shocked,” he said after shootaround Friday. “I never knew I’d be able to play for my home team. It’s all love. I’m blessed to be here. I’m blessed to be with these guys and grow.”

Braxton Key, another former Delaware Blue Coat on a hardship deal, made his NBA debut in garbage time. 

Late injury scares

Furkan Korkmaz was again one of the Sixers’ main ball handlers with Maxey and Milton out. Curry and Harris also continued to bring the ball up the floor.

Those two were scorching to start the game as both opened 6-for-7 from the floor. Curry was smooth and hit jumpers with ease. Harris did much of his damage in and around the paint. 

The Sixers did have a couple of pauses. San Antonio trimmed their deficit down to nine in the second quarter and Andre Drummond was called for three fouls in his first six minutes. Murray got rolling early in the third and almost cut the Sixers’ 18-point halftime lead to 12 all by himself. 

Korkmaz appeared to suffer a hand injury in the fourth quarter and went to the locker room with head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson, though he eventually checked back into the game. Curry limped to the bench with 6:07 remaining in the final frame, and Embiid had a noticeable limp about 30 seconds later. The outcome wasn’t fully cemented and both stayed in the game. A Danny Green three-pointer with 3:52 to go stretched the Sixers’ lead to 110-94 and allowed the team to breathe a bit easier.

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