STAR OF THE WEEK:
This week’s star goes to newly named All-Star Joel Embiid. The 76ers’ big man led Philly to an undefeated week (3 – 0) and back into the playoff picture. Embiid put 29.6 points, 12-rebounds on 54-percent shooting for the week. More importantly, the All-Star was instrumental in slaying two of the division’s biggest monsters.
In a Martin Luther King matinee Philadelphia defeated the Toronto Raptors 117 – 111. Prior to Monday’s win Philly had gone 1 – 14 in the previous 15 games against the Raptors. Embiid started the game off strong notching 12-points in the first quarter, and remained a force down the stretch scoring four of Philadelphia’s final six points to secure the “W”. The center finished with 34-points and 11 rebounds, both were game highs. The road was kind in Boston, as Joel led the troops to an 89 – 80 victory over the rival Celtics. An 18-point second half, on his way to a 26-point performance, was key in this contest.
The week ended with a 116 – 94 blowout of the Milwaukee Bucks. The center put up 29-points and nine boards in that win. The upcoming week will offer a different set of challenges for the seven-footer, with the Marc Gasol led Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs on the docket. The Chicago Bulls and their impressive rookie Lauri Markkanen will also be making an appearance this week.
Stat of the Week:
New Year, New Philly
2018 has started off well for the 76ers, and hopefully the team can make a strong playoff push heading into the All-Star break. As a unit Philly tied for second in the league for field goal percentage at 49.8 percent, and finished fourth in made freethrows with 20.7. Turnovers continue to be a thorn in head coach Brett Brown’s side as the team registered 21.7 per contest, which was number one in the Association for the week. Defensively the squad had the best defensive rating of anyone in the league at 91.8 and held teams to only 34.7 points in the paint, good for second in the league.
The second and fourth quarters continue to be an issue for Philly. The team ranks 24th in field goals made in the second quarter (8.3) and 18th in the fourth quarter (8.7). They shot 48.1 percent from the field in the fourth quarter, finishing ninth for the week. The turnover bug bit Philly in the fourth, as they gave the ball away a league leading seven times per contest. Robert Covington remains the team’s worst shooting player in the fourth quarter at 23 percent, despite being second in field goal attempts at 3.3. Covington led the team in overall minutes per at 34.8.
Ben Simmons vs. Everybody
As the 76ers’ Ben Simmons continues to put up modest numbers Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell continues to impress. The week’s top rookie performer is a force and is slowly cementing himself as the new favorite for the Rookie of the Year award. Mitchell’s finest hour came in a 120 – 105 win against the Sacramento Kings. The guard dropped 34-points on 14-for-19 shooting. The Jazz rookie would end the week with 24.3 points to go along with 2.0 steals, all while shooting 52.8 percent from the field.
Here are some of the other top rookie performers for the week:
ANSWERING THE CALL – A.I.’s ROOKIE YEAR
It has been exactly 20 seasons since Hall-of-Fame guard Allen Iverson first blessed the NBA hardwood and ignited the city of Philadelphia. From the moment the Virginia native donned a Philadelphia 76ers uniform fans everywhere had a feeling Iverson was special and their basketball prayers were finally answered.
The organization struggled mightily through five consecutive losing seasons before selecting the six foot powerhouse out of Georgetown, first overall. It appears the franchise has found another transcendent player, in first year “guard” Ben Simmons. Oddly enough this year’s prized rookie guard hits the court after yet another five consecutive losing seasons.
As spectators enjoy the greatness and infancy stages of Simmons’ career, it is hard to forget the last time Philly had something (or someone) this special to root for. So while we partake in the now, it is impossible to not reminisce the before.
At Least They Beat Boston
You can throw the records out the window when the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers match-up, and in this case you probably should. Both clubs had fallen on hard times as they combined for a record of 18 – 59. Boston later admitted they were tanking the season with the hopes of acquiring the services of Wake Forest center Tim Duncan. Meanwhile, Philly had already grabbed its franchise player in Allen Iverson.
The game remained close throughout as 76er reserve Rex Walters stole the show, scoring 27-points. A.I. hit three free throws in the final 30 seconds and Philly halted a 13 game losing streak, winning 127 – 125. Iverson’s 26-point heroics did not carry over to the next game against the Sacramento Kings. The rookie got a front row seat to the Mitch Richmond show, as the veteran guard scored 22-points in the second half and 33 for the game. Philadelphia lost 107 – 92, Iverson struggled to a 16-point performance on 5-for-17 shooting.
The bad times rolled on as the Detroit Pistons beat the 76ers 104 – 95. Grant Hill notched a triple-double with 21-points, 16-rebounds and 10-assists, while A.I. continued to spar with efficiency. With another subpar output of 19-points the All-Star break could not come soon enough for Iverson.
Tweet of the Week: