STAR OF THE WEEK:
Joel Embiid is once again this week’s star. Effectiveness trumped efficiency this week for a seemingly winded Embiid. Shooting a pedestrian 45-percent for the week, it was the seven footers ability to fight through his obvious fatigue that impressed. For the week Embiid averaged 22.0 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks and Philly went a solid 2 – 2.
Thursday night Philadelphia arrived in Cleveland, after dropping two straight and in need of a win. Behind Embiid’s gritty 14-rebound and 17-point performance the Sixers would lead from start to finish in the 108 – 97 “W”. Less than 24 hours later Joel & Crew returned home for a matchup against the Charlotte Hornets. 23-points, 14-rebounds and three blocks later Philly would place another check in the win column, 110 – 99.
The upcoming week features three straight road games. The Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks highlight the three game stretch. Miami’s Hassan Whiteside has been very vocal about squaring off against Embiid and the Heat won the most recent contest 102 – 101. Overall the Sixers are 2 – 1 versus the Heat with the big man averaging 20.0 points and 9.5 rebounds on 48-percent shooting. Meanwhile, the Bucks are 1 – 1 in their two contests with the center going for 24.0 points and 8.5 rebounds. The Charlotte Hornets round out the trifecta.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
Philadelphia returned to the pack after a week of being one of the NBA’s leading clubs. Offensive prowess has never been part of Philly’s team makeup and this week was just further testament to that premise. The 76ers finished 9th in rebounds per (46.8), 12th in points in the paint, 14th in assists (24.5), 22nd in points per game (103.3), fell to 27th in field goal percentage, and 27th in made field goals (36.8). Winning games is the most important aspect of this part of the season for Philadelphia. Rebounding and ball movement have been the most vital part to winning games all season. Finishing out of the top ten in assists and almost out of the top ten in rebounds explains the squad’s 2 – 2 results for the week.
Defensively things took a slight slide as well. After finishing first in multiple defensive categories last week, the Sixers did not crack the top five as much this week. Philly ranked 4th in opponent points per game (101.8), 5th in opponent made field goals (37.3), 5th in opponent fastbreak points allowing 9.3, 9th in defensive rating (105.0), 10th in opponent field goal percentage (45.3), and 22nd in steals per with 7.8. All season the Sixers have resided in the top ten in 2nd chance points allowed, and this week was no different as the group finished 2nd allowing 6.3.
43.8 percent of Philadelphia’s field goals came from within 10 feet of the basket, while 32.5 percent came from the catch-and-shoot variety. The one constant for both the factors is first year point forward Ben Simmons. The Australian leads the team with 73 percent of his points being scored in the paint and is the per game team leader in points in the paint at 11.0 per.
BEN SIMMONS VS. EVERYBODY
Donovan Mitchell is this week’s top rookie! Currently the Utah Jazz are three games out of the eighth and final playoff spot and making a strong push to make the postseason. Mitchell has been the star of the show in the playoff push, and most recently averaged 23.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals in a critical seven day period. The guard dropped 26-points in a 116 – 108 victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The very next night Mitchell scored 27-points in a 98 – 91 victory against the Sacramento Kings.
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. Therefore, while we partake in the now it is impossible to not reminisce the before.
A tough sequence of games for rookie Allen Iverson began with an 18-point, 13-assist performance against the then Washington Bullets. Despite A.I.’s double-double Philly lost 107 – 106 thanks to a late bucket courtesy of the Bullets’ Calbert Cheaney. Atlanta dealt Iverson and Co. a 117 – 104 loss. The Hawks held the guard to 20-points on a paltry 7-for-20 shooting.
Revenge was served when the Bullets arrived in Philly, as the 76ers defeated Washington 99 – 93. The win ended a six game losing streak to the Bullets. Iverson dropped 19-points in the victory, however their success was short lived.
Just a few hours later Philadelphia hit the Twin Cities for a showdown between Iverson and fellow rookie Stephon Marbury. On draft day Minnesota traded for point guard Stephon Marbury, in hopes the New York native would provide the Timberwolves with a potent one-two punch. Marbury and Iverson were neck and neck in Rookie of the Year voting with many leaning towards the Tmberwolves’ rookie because of his team success.
“Starbury” would not only outscore Iverson (24 to 17), but he also fouled the Sixers' guard out. Minnesota won the game 104 – 100 and all A.I. could do was watch from the sideline as the Wolves’ pg scored 13-points in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter leading his troops to victory.
TWEET OF THE WEEK: