Eight in a Row: Embiid and Maxey Lead Sixers in Pacers Outburst: Likes and Dislikes

Tyrese Maxey sets up a corner three against the Pacers

The Sixers (47-22) went to visit the Indiana Pacers (32-38) on Saturday. Philadelphia wanted to win for the eighth game in a row. Indiana wanted to tie the Bulls for the last spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament with a win. Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey combined for 62 points and 14 assists to lead the Sixers past the Pacers, 141-121.

Before we get to what I saw, some notes.

Contextual comments

The Sixers were without the services of James Harden, who was on a maintenance night as part of his recovery from a right foot injury.

PJ Tucker missed the game with a sore left ankle.

Louis King and Mac McClung are on Two-Way G-League assignments with the Delaware Blue Coats and were out.

Doc Rivers started Maxey, De’Anthony Melton, Danuel House Jr., Tobias Harris and Embiid.

The Pacers were left without the help of Tyrese Haliburton, who has a sprained right ankle.

Bennedict Mathurin missed the game with a sprained right ankle. Chris Duarte was out with a sore left ankle.

Kendall Brown has a stress fracture in his right tibia and was unavailable.

Rick Carlisle started Andrew Nembhard, Buddy Hield, Aaron Nesmith, Jordan Nwora and Myles Turner.


Watching Embiid dominate without a bead of sweat dripping down his face so often, breaking countless necks with the strength of his right hand alone, you wonder if something is wrong if he isn’t using his full capacity. He’s been trying to dominate from the tip to the last buzzer since the all-star break. That consistent engagement and effort not only propelled him back into the MVP conversation, but it brought him to the forefront of the debate. Still, he didn’t seem interested in scoring that much in his first stint of this game.

It wasn’t so much that he wasn’t engaged, as he was fully aware that every night is an opportunity to stabilize or build on his MVP candidacy. On the contrary, his approach was different. The touches that were typical shots were passes. It wasn’t that he was passive; Embiid did not turn down open glances. But he didn’t assert himself in a way that those who watch him regularly know he can. But I didn’t mind his approach, because he made no mistakes in attack.

Embiid read double teams and shaders quite well and shot the ball across the field to hit open teammates. He saw the entire field dip Harris into the post, use his gravity to create some space for Maxey on the strong side, and throw the ball across the floor to open things up on the weak side. Embiid didn’t force his teammates to operate out of a delayed half court attack. He was willing to match the flow of the game, push it into transition like a ball handler or look up to teammates running ahead in transition.

The message was that he felt his team could win without needing an A-plus game from the ace. So he used a night’s rest for Harden to direct the spotlight to his teammates in the first half. Much attention is paid to Embiid’s maturity as a leader. And I think that accounts for a lot of what we saw on Saturday night. Embiid knows he and Harden will need their teammates when the games really matter. So it’s important to keep them engaged against inferior opponents when the margin of error is greater. Not only does it keep them awake, but it also lets them know that their leaders believe in them.

That doesn’t mean Embiid went all night without standing up for herself. He tested the waters in the first half and got an idea of ​​how much he would need for his team to win. Seeing the likes of Maxey and Harris get the job done, but the Sixers didn’t blow Indiana’s doors away, Embiid put a little more weight on the throttle in the second half. He shone with his usual range of midrange jerseys and interior scores, then took his place for the entire fourth quarter.

Underrated development of these last two games is that Embiid got some extended in-game rest with his Sixers putting the game to bed in the second half. It’s rare that Philadelphia has a stress-free fourth quarter. As Rivers would say, that’s old-fashioned tax management.

Maxey and Harris, of course, made it quite easy for Embiid to produce offensively without establishing themselves as a goalscorer. They had been calling it all night. What do you do when Harden’s scoring and playmaking isn’t available? You break it up, divide and conquer. The second and third men in line combined to score 55 points on 21-for-30 shooting, 9-for-15 of which came from outside the arc, and 11 assists against one turnover.

There’s something about Indiana that Maxey loves because it feels like he’s on fire every time he plays the Pacers in their building. He stopped in front of a midrange jumper after faking a heavy close-out and attacking the ensuing space. He pulled back in transition and also triggered a triple from the right wing. It was a 5 out of 9 effort from outside the arc for no. 0, but he also reached the brim for a handful of crafty finishes.

Maxey not only emerged as a goalscorer in this. Seven assists against no loss of the ball despite a well-used shot volume and an insane score. I thought he had read a few times as a passerby that showed Harden’s mentoring. One that was particularly noteworthy was a drive to the paint that ended with a bullet pass headed for Niang in the weak side corner. We’re not going to learn anything from a nice pass here and there. And as long as Harden is a Sixer, there won’t be enough chances on the ball for Maxey to combine playmaking with scoring. But the occasional great read while moving within the flow of the offense is encouraging for the Sixers’ options as a lead ballhandler if they have to live in a post-Harden world for the foreseeable future.

Harris’ three-point shot in Charlotte traveled with him to Indiana, as he came out of the arc in this one. But much of his work came from teasing mismatches in the post to put himself close to the edge or flip for a midrange jumper. While finishing at the rim was a rollercoaster for Harris, he also had a good night around the basket.

Melton hurt the Pacers all night, his defense didn’t bully the Indiana ball handlers. Six steals and a block for the Sixers guard in this one, and he handled the ball with good control even in transition. A little advice for the Pacers – watch the ball handler, because if he has his back turned, a helper will storm the blind side and tag the ball away to create a passing opportunity. You must help your teammate and call it out. Melton was excellent on offense in this one, finding the ball when his man tried to attack and getting a hand on the rock to flip the Pacers and create a loose ball.

The Sixers treated attendees to a dunk fest in the second half. Especially Paul Reed came into action there. Jaden Springer found himself cutting the baseline and gave him a dunk late in the fourth quarter. Perhaps Reed does this more than I notice, but it felt like he timed his baseline cuts really well as his teammates acted as short roles in staggered actions. As soon as the low man raised to attack the ball, Reed was there to receive the pass for an easy flush.

Not much to take away from this game, but Philadelphia responded to no Harden with a balanced effort from Embiid, Maxey and Harris. The Sixers don’t have to rely on the same pillars every night to win. Boys can play a game without it feeling like a death sentence. They know there are other sources of production waiting in the wings. Even if no key person is available, there is still a man or two to carry the load. This Sixers team, unlike any other in recent memory, consistently wins in several ways. It’s everyone’s best bet on whether they’ll get past the second round this season. But for the first time in the Embiid era, I can safely say that this team gives me more reasons to believe in the high-end outcome than to doubt it.


Reed righted the ship in the second half, but some ugly minutes for both of Embiid’s backups in the first half. Reed committed two fouls in less than four minutes of action. The Sixers were outscored by five points in those minutes. Rivers made a quick move to Dedmon, but he wasn’t much better in less than three minutes of action. He tried to throw a ridiculous lob at Harris that the forward had no chance. Dedmon then fouled a basket he couldn’t stop anyway. The game was probably a little too fast for him, the Indiana youth dictated the pace. Despite physical limitations, it seemed like he played a different sport than the other nine boys on the floor.

Embiid got a coupe hit to the face in this one. He tends to be a little extra careful when someone makes contact with his face. I suspect his past with facial fractures is probably additional concern when contacted.

House threw one annoying float in the third quarter. Unfortunately, he stuck his knee through a man’s chest to make it happen. An indisputable offensive error wiped out what would have been a nice highlight for him.

The Sixers (48-22) will host the Chicago Bulls (33-37) on Monday. The tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern time. You can watch the game on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

#Row #Embiid #Maxey #Lead #Sixers #Pacers #Outburst #Likes #Dislikes

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