The Philadelphia 76ers came out on top over the Miami Heat 106-102 in their first game back from the all-star break. In was a close contest throughout, but the Sixers finished the game strong despite missing their best player.
The Sixers announced Wednesday all-star center Joel Embiid would be re-evaluated in one week due to left knee soreness. The frustration is understandable since the break just passed and they need him in order to jump several teams in the standings. But his absence should allow others to step up.
His absence hurts the team, but perhaps could help them in the long run. Time to rest will be important for Embiid’s stamina as the playoffs approach.
Their win over the Heat allowed others to step up but also showed a glaring weakness.
The Ben and Boban show
Boban Marjanovic was the star of the night. He made a big impact instantly scoring 11 points while collecting seven rebounds in the first quarter.
Despite the Heat scoring 66 points in the paint, they only shot 12 free-throws for the entire game. Marjanovic should get tremendous credit for defending the basket without fouling.
He isn’t a great shot-blocker, but he takes up so much space in the paint. His size and length a truly unique.
“He’s really incredibly skilled for a man of his size,” head coach Brett Brown said after the game, via Tom Moore.
Marjanovic finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds. He went 7-10 from the free-throw line including going 3-4 at the line towards the end of the fourth quarter.
This certainly wasn’t one of Ben Simmons’ best games of his young career. He went 3-7 from the free-throw line and only had four assists. But his aggressiveness made a big difference in this game. He attempted 19 shots and played center when the Sixers went small ball.
He took advantage of his size advantage over Justice Winslow in the paint, getting good looks close to the basket.
An aggressive approach from Simmons is when he plays some of his best basketball. He finished with 21 points and seven rebounds.
Outside of TJ McConnell, who finished with 6 points and five assists in 11 minutes, the bench struggled to make an impact.
The combination of Mike Scott, Johan Bolden, James Ennis III and Jonathon Simmons scored just six points in 48 combined minutes. They also had six rebounds and two assists in that time.
Their production must improve even when Embiid returns to the starting lineup. The bench is still a major weakness until they prove themselves as capable of helping this team.
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