The Philadelphia 76ers got another win and their prized rookie finally made his (re)debut.
Tonight’s biggest stat line was Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz COMBINED — 47 minutes, 17 points (8-21 shooting), 21 Rebounds, 19 assists, two turnovers, one block and +19. Others will focus on Fultz’s statistics (10 points on 5-13 shooting, eight assists, four rebounds, one turnover and +16), however I’ve always been a big picture analyist.
If Fultz continues to perform anything like he did against Denver (in a 123-104 victory), the Philadelphia 76ers finally have a NBA quality backup point guard that can change their entire team dynamic.
More importantly with Fultz, Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova leading the second unit, the Sixers bench may actually be able to play other teams’ benches even. Add an improved bench to one of the most efficient starting five units in the league and the Sixers may be able to sustain a deep playoff run.
I recently wrote that Fultz should be shut down for the season because there was a bigger risk to bring him back and risk further emotional damage to his psyche if he wasn’t ready to play. From Fultz’s performance, he IS ready to play and contribute.
Fultz was aggressive offensively, looked for his shot and had good form on his jumper. Most importantly, Fultz can take the ball in a 1-4 set at the top of the key, break down a defender and get his own good shot. He is also a willing passer and can pass in tight quarters (eight assists).
Brett Brown must step up
Now Brett Brown has to be a coach and further limit T.J. McConnell‘s minutes and that doesn’t mean to play T.J. with Simmons. The first half Brown reverted back to his early in the season hockey-atyle substituting pattern — 10 players almost played 10 minutes each.
Basketball is a game where players have to get into a rhythm and it’s hard when players keep rotating in and out. The Sixer lack of chemistry showed in the first half with the Sixers down 59-51.
The second half substituting and game was a different story. The Sixer starters began the third quarter onslaught and the bench continued as the Sixers outscored Denver 34-15 for the quarter to take an 11-point lead into the forth (85-74).
The Sixers continued their stellar play as they put up 38 points in the forth quarter. The fans were chanting “We want Fultz” with two minutes left and Brett Brown obliged them and put Fultz back into the game.
The Sixers won their seventh straight game and fourth game in a row going away. Can anyone spell “Playoff Run”?
The Sixers outscored Denver 72-45 in the second half. Seven players had double figures including Embiid (20), Saric (20), Covington (19), Redick (18), Belinelli (11), Ilyasova (11) and Fultz (10). The Sixers shot 50 percent for the game and 45 percent from three.
By the way, what was with referee Scott Foster? Sixer management must have forgot to validate his parking pass the last time he worked in Philly. I can’t remember so many bad calls by one ref against a home team other than Tony Brothers.