Next man up helps Sixers defeat Nets

Tyrese Maxey, Sixers (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
Tyrese Maxey, Sixers (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images) /

Adapting to change has been the theme to the beginning of Doc Rivers’ ball club. Negotiations between Ben Simmons and the Sixers organization consumed the team’s offseason. When the NBA season approached, leaders like Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris helped steer the focus of their teammates. With the status of their starting point guard listed as uncertain, the 76ers would have to rely on their roster to step up.

Sixers relying on the “Next Man Up”

Having a reliable roster is important in the NBA. If members of a team’s starting roster are missing in action, the next man up must do his best to perform. Strong performances from unfamiliar faces helped the Sixers start the season with an 8-2 record. Discussions of the absence of Ben Simmons soon began to fade as players like Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle swept the fans of Wells Fargo Arena off their feet. While the fans of Philadelphia celebrated their team’s electric start to the season, the health risk of the NBA players began to grow.

November was not a month the 76ers would like to remember. Their six-game winning streak provided the team with a spark, but it would soon fizzle out. On Nov. 8, Philadelphia lost 103-96 to the New York Knicks. The loss was the first of five consecutive. Improving their performances on the court was one issue, improving the team’s health was another. Covid-19 played a role in Philadelphia’s 7-8 record. Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid, and Matisse Thybulle all missed time due to the association’s health and safety protocol. Playing without three starters is a tough task for any team, but the Sixers were able to persevere.

Sixers are finally getting back to normal

Players began to return to the team as December approached. For some, the break from the hardwood awakened a hunger to return with vengeance. On Dec. 3, the Sixers defeated the Atlanta Hawks behind the tenacious play of Philadelphia’s star center. Embiid’s 28 points and 12 rebounds gave the former Kansas Jayhawk his first of three consecutive double-double performances. The Sixers enjoyed a three-game winning streak before taking a tough loss at the hands of the Utah Jazz. Losses to the Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, and Brooklyn Nets gave Philadelphia a negative winning percentage to start the month.

Dan Burke has been the most recent change in the 76ers organization. His role as acting head coach was important in the Sixers’ victory against the Nets on Thursday Night. During his post-game press conference, Burke stated that he was excited about the win and was excited to speak with Head Coach Doc Rivers Covid-19 protocol prohibited Rivers from coaching in the game, but the next man up responded. Performances from clutch players helped as well. Joel Ebiid finished the game with thirty-four points and seven rebounds. Tyrese Maxey’s effective 3-point shooting also gave the Sixers an edge over the Nets in the late moments in the fourth quarter.

Something for the Sixers to build on

When the final buzzer sounded, Joel Embiid displayed his enthusiasm by waiving Kevin Durant and his teammates to the locker room. The emotion was evident on the faces of both teams face as they exited the hardwood. Philadelphia’s first win over the Brooklyn Nets gave the 76ers locker room the momentum they needed to head into the new year. With a win to end the year, the Sixers will focus on their new year resolution. Their inconsistent play has shifted them out of the top Eastern Conference standings. If the Sixers want to continue to see success, they must build on top of tonight’s hard-fought victory.

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