From the opening tip to the end of the game, it was all 76ers versus the Charlotte Hornets. The team controlled the game from the start and never looked back. The Hornets were able to cut the lead close towards the end, but Doc Rivers called timely time outs and got the team locked back in, and the 76ers came away with a 127-112 victory.
It was a complete team effort, with Tobias Harris leading scorers with 24, Ben Simmons notching his first triple-double of the season, Joel Embiid had a dominating 19 points and 14 rebounds and all starters scored in double digits.
Team basketball and ball-movement!
Doc Rivers before the season spoke about how the short offseason and big changes to the team may affect their chemistry and offense. The last two games have seemed like much the opposite. The ball-movement and chemistry have been refreshing to watch, and it is resulting in guys getting open clean looks at the basket, and shooters are hitting their shots.
When the ball is moving as it has been, making the extra pass to the open shooter, and shooters are making their shots, this team is going to be a problem to guard. Joel Embiid has been really good this season not only seeing the first pass in front of him but when teams take it away he is finding the second pass, the cross-court to the corner three. If Joel continues to pass well, and the team continues to move the ball the way they are, defenses are going to have to pick their poison; either guard Joel 1v1 in the post or double and leave Seth Curry, Danny Green, or one of the other 76ers shooters open for three.
Danny Green weighed in post game about guarding Joel Embiid 1v1 in the post:
Tobias Harris is ballin’
Harris has been a huge topic of discussion among 76er fans. After a less than par preseason, and a slow start to the season, and a massive 180 million dollar price tag, it’s no surprise that Tobias would catch some flak. But over the past two games, he is starting to slowly silence the critics. In Orlando, it seemed as if he started to make much quicker decisions, less dribbling, and shooting much better. Tonight he followed up with the same play.
Tobias dropped 24 to lead all 76ers, along with nine rebounds, and was 4/7 from three. Not only was he shooting well, but he also attacked the rim hard, throwing down a monster dunk on two Hornets in the first quarter, and his decision making has been so much quicker.
If he can keep it up, and Doc Rivers can continue to do whatever it is he does to get the best out of Tobias, it makes the 76ers so much more of a threat.
Coaching philosophy on display
In past years we would see the young 76ers take big leads and eventually blow them late in the game. Tonight we saw the Hornets start to cut a 14 point lead down to 11 and 10 and both times Doc Rivers called a time-out to get the players back refocused. Ben Simmons touched on this in his post-game press conference.
In the past the team may have tried to play through the run and ultimately blow a late lead, but not this time. Both times after the time out, the 76ers locked in and brought the lead back up to at least 14, even at one point 17.
A change in philosophy and new voices may have just been what the team needed, along with some shooters. Doc Rivers and his staff have a ton of experience, they are pushing all the right buttons as of now and getting guys in the right spots to succeed. The players seem really locked in, both offensively and defensively, and they are playing legit team basketball with pace and passing.
Everyone is doing their fair share, even the bench who not only held a lead in the first quarter but also extended it. Guys are getting to their spots and other guys are finding them when they get there, the ball is moving well, and the team is playing with great pace and the defense has been great on top of it. It is still obviously very early on, but the 76ers are currently alone atop the Eastern Conference standings and look like a really good team looking to prove themselves. They should only continue to improve with time, and that could prove to be dangerous for the rest of the league.
The team’s next game will be Monday at home vs the Hornets again. The Wizards come to town on Wednesday, and then a true test comes Thursday when the 76ers travel to Brooklyn to take on Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and the new-look Brooklyn Nets.