Game Recap | Dominance Against New York, From Start to Finish
With 45 seconds left in the third quarter of the 76ers’ (15-8) first game of the season against the New York Knicks (7-15), Wilson Chandler couldn’t help but flash a big smile.
The typically reserved swing man had just scored with astonishing ease - so easy, in fact, there wasn’t a defender within about four feet of him when he caught a T.J. McConnell bounce pass in the lane for a two-foot lay-in that increased the Sixers’ margin to 28 points.
New York, meanwhile, was left confused, palms in the air.
It was just that kind of night at The Center, pretty much from start to finish. The Sixers led by as many as 31 points, en route to routing their Atlantic Division rival, 117-91.
For a team that entered the evening still looking for its first, true, full-48 minute performance of the season, Wednesday represented that, and then some, for the Sixers.
“I thought the guys that came in held the floor,” said Brett Brown. “I thought they played organized basketball, competitive basketball.”
Idle since Sunday, when they beat the Nets at the buzzer in Brooklyn, the Sixers were every bit the fresher, superior squad versus New York, feasting on an opponent that lost 24 hours earlier in Detroit.
After a competitive opening eight minutes or so, Joel Embiid and JJ Redick returned from their first stint on the bench to help blow things open. The Sixers went on a 14-5 run to finish the first period, and never looked back.
Embiid finished with game-highs of 26 points (10-21 fg, 6-8 ft), 14 rebounds, and a game-high tying seven assists. The double-double was his NBA-best 21st of the year.
p>In a potent effort of his own, Redick was scorching hot from the start. He nailed each of his first six shots for 14 points in Wednesday’s first quarter.
The 34-year ran circles around the Knicks, and went for 24 points on 10 for 14 shooting, plus 4 for 6 from behind the arc.
“Obviously, getting out to a big lead is important,” Redick said, “but then we were able to maintain that lead the whole game, and that’s just as important for us.
The Sixers only needed 24 minutes from Ben Simmons, who supplied 14 points (5-9 fg), eight boards, and seven assists.
“Every team, every game is different,” said the 2018 Rookie of the Year. “Tonight, we’re just getting better.”
The Sixers established new collective season-highs Wednesday by shooting 54.0 percent from the field, handing out 34 assists, and with their 26-point margin of victory.
New York managed to convert just 34.8 percent of its shots, a season-low for a Sixers’ opponent. The Knicks’ 91 points were also the fewest for a Sixers’ foe this year.
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Early Wednesday evening, you could tell JJ Redick was locked in. The seasoned sharpshooter snapped off six straight points in just 90 seconds - a 19-foot pull-up, a 2-foot driving score, and a 21-foot jump shot - before subbing out for the first time.
He sat for a bit, then returned to sink a 20-footer and a 25-footer within the final two minutes of the first quarter. Redick capped the frame with a sick jump pass to Joel Embiid that the big man turned into a two-handed throwdown.
“I always feel like when I shoot the ball, it’s going to go in,” said Redick, “but there’s a different feeling when you haven’t missed and you’ve taken a few shots and you just keep seeing the ball go in.”
Redick knocked down his first six shots of the first half, and first three of the second half. He only missed one of his first 10 attempts overall.
“It certainly increases the dopamine levels in your brain,” Redick said about catching fire. “That’s the general feeling I get.”
For a better understanding of what JJ is talking about, just Google ‘dopamine.’
Muscala Makes Impact
Continuing a trend that started to emerge towards the end of last week, the Sixers turned to Mike Muscala Wednesday as their first big man off the bench.
While there were a handful of minutes that Muscala played alongside Joel Embiid, the Bucknell product spent the bulk of his evening as the All-Star’s back-up. The ripple effects were positive.
Spelling Embiid for the first time midway through Wednesday’s opening quarter, Muscala provided an immediate injection of energy. He tallied a hook shot, an offensive rebound (which yielded a Ben Simmons score), a reverse lay-up, and 3-pointer in the three-minute stretch he was on the floor.
Later in the night, Muscala drilled a three that widened the gap between the Sixers and Knicks to 30 points. His tangible and intangible value certainly helped his club’s cause, and ensured the Sixers maintained their edge from beginning to end.
“I think it was a mindset at halftime,” Muscala said. “Guys were saying, ‘Let’s push out the lead, let’s not take our foot off the gas.’ After we broke the huddle after halftime, we were saying in the first five minutes to come out aggressive and focused, so I think that was really it.”
Bench Brings It
Mike Muscala wasn’t the only Sixer reserve to step up.
T.J. McConnell chipped in with six points, two rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Furkan Korkmaz notched 11 points on 4 for 10 shooting, while Landry Shamet once again offered a steady presence.
The contributions of the second-string unit Wednesday didn’t go unnoticed by Brett Brown.
“It wasn’t like here comes the bench, and there’s a letdown - it wasn’t that at all,” Brown said. “Those guys played. T.J. had a plus-25. Furkan did some nice things. We are continuing to see the growth in Landry Shamet.”
Brown was also pleased to be able to get two-way player Demetrius Jackson into Wednesday’s game. It marked the latter’s NBA regular season debut, and he punched in a basket in five minutes of play.
Behold the still, or marvel at Joel Embiid’s memorable second-quarter spinning slam in slo mo. The 7-footer has no doubt got some serious feet…
Few teams in the NBA endured a more tumultuous first month of the season than the Washington Wizards (8-12), which got off to a 2-9 start. But recently, Washington has experienced a reversal of fortunes, with six wins in nine games heading into Wednesday’s match-up with the New Orleans Pelicans. John Wall has averaged 21.7 points and 8.2 assists per game, while fellow All-Star Bradley Beal is scoring a team-best 22.1 points per game.