The Sixers blew past the Bulls in the Windy City on Wednesday, winning their 9th game in 10 tries, and 7th straight away from the Wells Fargo Center, by a score of 116-91. The win improved the Sixers’ record to 49-23 and pulled them again to within a half-game of the Boston Celtics for 2nd in the East.
This was the 2nd game of a home-and-home between the Sixers and Bulls. Chicago ended Philly’s 8-game win streak on Monday, 109-105 in 2OT. It is safe to say the Sixers got their revenge in this one.
3 Sixers finished with 20+ points. De’Anthony Melton had his 2nd consecutive fantastic game, finishing with 25 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists, Tyrese Maxey finished with 21 points and shot 50% from beyond the arc, and Tobias Harris nearly had a triple-double with his 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists.
The Sixers were without James Harden (left Achilles soreness) and Jalen McDaniels (right hip soreness). The Bulls were without Lonzo Ball (left knee) and Alex Caruso (left foot). DeMar DeRozan also left early for Chicago with a right quad strain.
Sixers On Fire Early
Well, if you turned your TV on a little late tonight, you probably said to yourself “What the heck happened?” Before the Bulls had even gotten on the scoreboard, the Sixers had already put up 17. Not even 5 minutes into the game, the Sixers held a remarkable 23-1 lead. The 17-0 run was the largest to open a game in the NBA this season.
The Bulls did make their run, cutting what was a 22-point deficit down to 10 early in the 2nd quarter. However, the Sixers quickly rediscovered their dominance, closing the 1st half on a 40-22 run. They led 76-48 at halftime and were able to coast to an easy victory from there. The 28-point halftime lead was the team’s biggest of the season.
Tyrese Maxey drilled 4 triples in the 1st half and led the team in scoring with 16 points in the first 24 minutes. Tobias Harris was on triple-double watch early, finishing the 1st half with 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Sharing is Caring
Down the NBA’s assist leader, the Sixers seemed to be just fine on that front, dropping an impressive 30 assists, including 23 on 26 made field goals in the 1st half.
The 23 1st half-assists were a season-high for any half this season by the Sixers and the most since December of 2019. Everyone got in on the action. As mentioned earlier, Tobias Harris had 7 1st half-dimes, Joel Embiid had a team-high 7, De’Anthony Melton had 3, and Tyrese Maxey had 2.
Ball movement was undoubtedly an issue for the Sixers when these two teams faced off on Monday back in Philly. While they did finish with a solid 28 assists in their previous matchup, that came in a double-OT game. After the game, Doc Rivers talked about wanting his team to move the ball more effectively, and they certainly did that on Wednesday.
Joel Embiid began the 2nd half in the locker room, sending Sixers fans all over into a panic. Twitter was on fire with people wondering where the MVP favorite was after halftime.
Late in the 3rd quarter, the Sixers provided an update that Embiid was sitting out the 2nd half because of the disparity on the scoreboard. After the game, it was announced that Joel was experiencing mild right calf tightness.
In his postgame interview, Doc Rivers said he is “not concerned” about the injury and believes that Embiid will be able to play on Friday in Golden State when the Sixers begin a back-to-back with the Warriors and Suns. A camera angle in the 2nd quarter showed the big man appearing to reach down and grab his right leg while Georges Niang was shooting free throws.
Because of the injury, Embiid only scored 12 points in 16 minutes, thus ending his streak of 10 consecutive 30+ point games,
While no injury news is ever good, it does appear early that this one is relatively minor for Joel Embiid.