The Philadelphia 76ers were well represented in Chicago.
The 2020 NBA All-Star Game was a real hoot. The new format worked — the quarters got progressively more dramatic, culminating in a fourth quarter for the ages. Team Giannis held a nine-point lead when the final frame began, but it was Team LeBron who emerged victorious on a game-winning free throw from Anthony Davis.
In the end, $100,000 goes to Giannis’ charity, while LeBron’s charity goes home with $400,000 — a significant sum that will do a lot of good in the Chicago community. Kawhi Leonard won the first annual Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP trophy, an undoubtedly meaningful accomplishment for the league’s most stoic superstar.
As for the Philadelphia 76ers, both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons showed out. Simmons was the more empathic contributor early on the contest — he hustled for two steals, soared for a few strong dunks, and put together a well rounded line of 17 points, six rebounds, and five assists.
If we’re going to stretch for meaning in an All-Star Game, it was intriguing to see how Simmons made his mark. He set screens on the perimeter, rolled hard to the rim, and did his typical damage in transition. He looked nice next to Chris Paul, which should definitely become a full-time thing next season.
Simmons was maybe the game’s most impressive defender in the first three quarters. He’s such a ridiculous athlete, and this was a good stage to showcase his unique skill set. A reminder, if you will, to appreciate just how good he really is.
As for Embiid, he would have had a serious MVP case if Team Giannis was able to pull out the win. The trophy probably would have ended up in Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s hands, but it was Embiid who carried a benign offense down the stretch.
When Giannis’ poorly constructed offense sputtered in crunch time, Embiid managed to manufacture key points in the post and at the free throw line, his bread and butter. It was Embiid who put Team Giannis at 155 points, two shy of the win.
Embiid shook LeBron on a post move late, hit a nice windmill in the third quarter, and was all-around impressive in a surprisingly burdensome 29 minutes. Nick Nurse was unafraid to let the big man play out an extended stretch to end the game, and Embiid worked his tail off.
This was a positive night — the game was great, the pre-game show was (long but) great, and Chance The Rapper even gave a nice performance in the halftime — so nice I’m willing to forgive the brief foray into Hot Shower, a song that makes zero logical sense.
This was good. This was fun. Let’s do it again next year.