The Philadelphia 76ers were able to come away with a 123-117 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday at home as Joel Embiid had himself another dominant game. He had 39 points and 13 rebounds as he went to work against the Nets all night long in what has become a ho-hum performance for the big fella on nights like these.
The Nets did a couple of different things to try and slow down Embiid. They started DeAndre Jordan in this game in order to have him defend the MVP candidate and he did as good a job as anybody has all season. Embiid had 21 points at halftime, but he shot 6-for-16 and he shot four 3-pointers while shooting 7-for-8 from deep.
In the second half, Brooklyn sent more double teams his way and that seemed to get Embiid into a groove as he had 16 points on 7-for-12 shooting. He is used to the doubles so that helped him.
“They went with single coverage in the first half with bigs and then in the second half, they went for the double team,” Embiid said after the game. “They doubled me as soon as I caught the ball. I was able to adjust and kind of play off the dribble and not just post-ups. That’s how the game goes.”
The thing about these double teams is that it seemed like the Nets did not care about defending Ben Simmons. Brooklyn was so focused on defending Embiid and stopping him that they left Simmons open.
There were a few times when Simmons was just in the paint without a defender and the Nets would focus solely on Philadelphia’s number 1 option. Embiid was still able to score efficiently and get to the line, but Simmons’ lack of offense is something that could be a factor in a potential playoff series.
“I didn’t think that was Ben,” said coach Doc Rivers. “Ben was in the middle of the paint, they had to pay attention to him because he was in the middle of the paint. We’ve been great. I’m not gonna overdo, or analyze this game. We’ve been unbelievable versus double teams all year. We had been great tonight when they did it.”
To Rivers’ point, the Sixers have been great out of the double teams this season and they were pretty solid again on Wednesday. It just seemed like it was even tougher for Embiid to attack because of the way the Nets did it. He still made the right reads out of it.
“Every single time I go into a game, I know that I’m gonna get double and tripled,” he explained. “So it’s just about me being ready and making the right read out of it.”
Another big takeaway for Philadelphia is that Embiid seemed to get stronger as the game went on. The 16 points in the third quarter was huge for them and it could be a good sign that he is continuing to adjust to the knee brace.
“I kinda felt better starting the game,” he said. “It just seemed like I just wasn’t in any rhythm. Everything just felt slow and had no motion or no rhythm in it and that start of the third was huge for me. Just like the Dallas game, just coming out and doing everything to try to put them away, but as the game went on, especially in that quarter, I felt a little better.”