Three Big Things From a Big Win
Things are moving quickly for the 76ers (35-21), which, in fewer than 72 hours, have returned from the All-Star break, won an overtime thriller, and departed for Milwaukee to face the league’s leaders.
Between Joel Embiid’s impressive performance, Alec Burks’ head-turning outing, and a big challenge ahead, there’s plenty to discuss.
Here’s a bit more on those three big things…
Joel Embiid was electric in Thursday’s back-and-forth meeting with the Nets, finishing with a season-high 39 points and 16 rebounds.
Following the game, his head coach sang his praises.
“It’s true, all over the place - defensively, offensively, give-me-the-ball stuff,” Brown said. “He was dominant.”
With the Sixers facing a 20-point deficit in the second quarter and a 10-point deficit at halftime, Embiid would score 21 points in the second half alone.
“You expect greatness from him - I think we all do, as a team,” Tobias Harris (22 pts, 12 reb). “He just took over in the game. Got to the free throw line, made his free throws, and just took over for us. He was huge.”
Speaking of the big man’s time at the line, he was a near-perfect 18-for-19 from the stripe.
In Thursday’s match-up, Embiid kept his momentum going from the Sixers' win over the Clippers right before the break, and his impressive showing at the All-Star Game.
“I’m here, I belong. I intend to keep coming out every single night - play hard, and try to get wins, and go out and try to win a championship,” Embiid said.
In just his second game as a Sixer, Alec Burks lived up to the high standard set by his prior performance for Golden State this season.
In 30 minutes of play, Burks scored 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting, along with four rebounds.
“It’s just playing my game, trying to feel it out,” Burks said postgame. “Hopefully it gets better and better as the season goes on.”
Acquired at the trade deadline, the former Warrior is averaging 15.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game.
“I was on the bench cheering for him, excited for him,” said Glenn Robinson III, who was traded to Philadelphia alongside Burks. “I know that’s what he can bring to any team that he’s on.”
“He did a great job,” Embiid added.
With new faces joining the rotation, Brett Brown said he’ll take the next couple of weeks to asses everyone's roles.
“He got a big bucket late. We tried to get him the ball in the second half more. We’re all learning - it wasn’t an easy game to sub. Alec certainly came in, and did what we scouted him to do,” Brown said.
Headed to Milwaukee to face the league-leading Bucks (47-8) Saturday on primetime TV, the Sixers are welcoming another chance to size themselves up against the elite.
“There’s a resiliency our guys have shown that I’m proud of," said Brett Brown. "I feel like the Milwaukee game is just one more layer to this.”
While the Bucks have only lost eight times this season, one of those losses came courtesy of the Sixers on Christmas Day.
Now, armed with a new rotation, the Sixers will look to take a season series lead over Milwaukee, which defeated the Sixers the day of the trade deadline (Feb. 6), 112-101.
Robinson, who was acquired by the team just hours before that contest - and consequently, could not play - says he’s looking forward to his first road test with the team.
“It’s just another game, another trip. It’s a big game for us, big road test,” he said.
“It’s exciting because they are the gold standard of our league,” Brown said. “We look forward to playing them with this rotation that we’re trying to grow and learn more about.”
Saturday’s matchup tips at 8:30 p.m. ET.