PLAYER GRADES: Philadelphia 76ers 106, Indiana Pacers 89

Joel Embiid | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
Joel Embiid | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /

After a lackadaisical first half, the Sixers clamped down on defense and smothered the Pacers. The second half was one of their best of the season, and Philadelphia now owns sole possession of third place in the East.


Joel Embiid. We’ve missed you so much.

After dropping three of their last four games, the Philadelphia 76ers overcame a pedestrian, discombobulated half and put together a determined final 24 minutes of basketball to claim the third seed in the East. The Pacers managed only 30 points in the second half, 11 of which came in the third quarter.

Sunday’s win cannot be understated. Indiana hasn’t missed a beat since their best player went down. Victor Oladipo was vital to their success on both sides of the ball, and Nate McMillan has kept his team performing at a high level. The Sixers did not start well, but they willed themselves to a conference win that will pay dividends.

Indiana finished the game with a field goal percentage of 37.3. The Pacers were lighting up the Sixers’ perimeter defenders early on. The Sixers’ offense was also flat in the first half, but loads of defensive rebounds turned into transition opportunities. They topped one of the best teams in the conference with measly scoring games from Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick. The second half effort the Sixers showed should be the watermark moving forward.

JOEL EMBIID. A. <strong>28 mins | 33 pts | 12 reb | 0 ast | 2 stl | 0 blk | 0 TO | 11-21 FG | 0-2 3PT| 11-15 FT | 5 PF | +16 | </strong><p>Joel Embiid missed eight straight games, came into today questionable to play, had his coach grade his conditioning as a “C”, and just decided to mess around and drop 33 and 12. Joel Embiid is simply amazing.</p><p>Embiid started off slow, showing some rust on offense, but became more comfortable as the game progressed. He was just straight up working every assignment the Pacers threw at him. <a rel=. C. Phildelphia 76ers

B. <strong>35 mins | 15 pts | 4 reb | 6 ast | 1 stl | 0 blk | 1 TO | 6-10 FG | 0-0 3PT| 3-5 FT | 5 PF | +19 | </strong><p>Joel Embiid stole the show, but <a rel=. PG. Philadelphia 76ers. BEN SIMMONS

Philadelphia 76ers. JAMES ENNIS. B-. <strong>17 mins | 8 pts | 5 reb | 0 ast | 1 stl | 0 blk | 0 TO | 2-5 FG | 1-3 3PT| 3-4 FT | 3 PF | +9 | </strong><p><a rel=. SF

B. <strong>35 mins | 16 pts | 8 reb | 4 ast | 1 stl | 1 blk | 2 TO | 7-16 FG | 2-5 3PT| 0-0 FT | 2 PF | -3 | </strong><p><a rel=. PF. Philadelphia 76ers. TOBIAS HARRIS

JIMMY BUTLER. C-. <strong>31 mins | 12 pts | 4 reb | 4 ast | 1 stl | 1 blk | 0 TO | 3-8 FG | 0-0 3PT| 6-6 FT | 1 PF | +8 | </strong><p>Sunday was another installment in the recent series of: <em>What is Jimmy Butler Doing?</em> He was getting roasted off the ball by <a rel=. SF. Philadelphia 76ers

Amir Johnson and Mike Scott played really well. Johnson was collecting rebounds, playing stout defense, and even stole the ball in transition. Mike Scott was a team-high +20 and put his imprint on the game with his physicality and timely shot-making. The Sixers getting notable contributions from their bench bigs is vital moving forward. Amir Johnson reminded us why he shouldn’t be totally kept out of the rotation, and Mike Scott furthered his adoration in Philadelphia.

The Pacers are entering a daunting part of the schedule, where they will face a slew of playoff-bound teams. Their recent play has been remarkable, but their next several games will give us an idea of what they can do in the postseason.

The Sixers’ remaining schedule does not resemble that of Indiana. They have one of the easier schedules in the league. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Sixers even inch towards Toronto’s second seed. The next several games will be prime for them to find their cohesion as a team, and find consistency. The Sixers need to find their stride between now and April 10.

Next. Ranking the Sixers post-trade deadline. dark

The sour taste is gone, and the Sixers have given us a big-time win with the return of Joel Embiid. Three out of the next five are at home, so hopefully Kendall Jenner’s schedule is free.