March 24, 2018, 9:31 pm
The Sixers are a team full of nightmare matchups. Ben Simmons is a 6’10” point guard. Joel Embiid is a 7’0″ center that can play anywhere on the court. Dario Saric is a 6’10” power forward that shoots 40 percent from 3-point range. Robert Covington can guard three positions and play three positions offensively.
The Sixers are also an extremely deep team, playing nine or ten players a night most of the time. T.J. McConnell, Marco Bellineli and Ersan Ilyasova could start for a number of teams, and Amir Johnson is a physical, defensive minded big man.
This makes the Sixers one of the toughest teams in the NBA to guard. Traditional schemes get tossed out the window with this group and very few teams have the personnel to matchup directly with them.
The Wolves are not one of those teams. Perhaps with Jimmy Butler they hold it together a little bit better, but not with the lineup they deploy right now.
Taj Gibson had a tough time chasing down Saric, who scored 18 points and had three 3-pointers. Karl-Anthony Towns was no match for Embiid, who scored 19 points and had three blocks. Wiggins couldn’t disrupt Simmons, who had a triple-double with 15 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds.
The Wolves just didn’t have any answers on the night, and when the Sixers’ starters were on the floor they dominated on both ends of the court. The Sixers shot 51.4 percent overall and had 98 points through three quarters, holding the Wolves to just 34.3 percent and 71 points.
Embiid shut down Towns in the paint, where he shot just 1-of-9, and forced him to operate outside, with minimal success. Towns finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, but on just 3-of-15 shooting from the field. He was largely ineffective.
In fact as a team the Wolves shot just 15-of-39 (38 percent) in the paint thanks to the efforts of Embiid and Amir Johnson, and from the outside the Wolves didn’t have much luck either, hitting just 3-of-17 from 3-point range.
The Sixers just dominated the Wolves in all facets of the game, and it was a night to forget for most of the Wolves.
It’s worth noting in the fourth quarter, when both teams emptied the bench, the Wolves made a bit of a comeback turning a 27-point game into a nine-point game at one juncture. The Wolves’ reserves stepped up and brought some energy in what was mostly a throwaway performance.
Tyus Jones, Gorgui Dieng and Marcus Georges-Hunt all stepped up and scored in double-figures in the fourth quarter, and the group, including Aaron Brooks and Cole Aldrich, outscored the Sixers 37-to-22.
In the long run it doesn’t mean too much, but it served as a reminder that these guys can step in and contribute on a moment’s notice. It’s a testament to their work ethic that despite not playing much in the season, they are always ready when called upon.
It would also be nice to see Georges-Hunt play a bit more often. He scored 11 points in the fourth, and his style of play, a defensive minded wing, is something the Wolves sorely lack. Perhaps this is a little reminder to Thibs.
The Wolves will return home on Monday and host the Memphis Grizzlies, who are having a tough season.
The only game of consequence tonight is the Pelicans vs. Rockets game. The Rockets are leading by 21 points in the third and are seemingly well on their way to a victory. The Pelicans will fall to sixth place, and the Wolves remain in seventh.