For many reasons, the Sixers’ 114-105 win over the Bulls on Saturday night should be a particularly satisfying one for Sixers head coach Doc Rivers.
The win was the Sixers’ six in a row and the 1,000th of Rivers’ coaching career. The Chicago native now sits at 1,000-706, 57-25 as a Sixer.
Rivers’ team won despite being far too short again.
The complete list of Sixers from: Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and Isaiah Joe (Health and Safety Protocols); Danny Green (left hamstring tightness); Ben Simmons (personal reasons); and Grant Riller (recovery from left knee injury).
The Sixers called up rookies Jaden Springer and Aaron Henry and brought the two to Chicago instead of letting them play in the Delaware Blue Coats’ opener. They were there in the end just in case Rivers used an eight-player rotation for a second game in a row.
Joel Embiid scored 30 points and 15 rebounds. Furkan Korkmaz scored 25 points on 9-for-13 shooting.
Zach LaVine of the Bulls scored a team-high 32 points on 12-for-26 shooting.
Two game road trip completed, the 8-2 Sixers will be home for their next three. They play back-to-back Monday and Tuesday against the Knicks and Bucks. Here are comments on their win over Chicago:
Welcome back, Furkan
After a first quarter without much offense from either side, the Sixers exploded out of nowhere for 15 straight runs in the middle of the second.
Korkmaz, who missed Thursday’s win over the Pistons with right wrist pain, nailed one of his well-known, “Yeah, I feel it” transitional three-pointers on that run and went 5-for-6 for 14 points in the first half. .
Embiid also fired into a zone, finishing the 15-0 wave with a trailing three ball. He made another three with 7.4 seconds left in the second, giving him 20 points and 10 rebounds at halftime.
Korkmaz’s confidence is seemingly infinite, and it was certainly high in the fourth quarter this season. With 11 final period points on Saturday, he has 62 this year in nine appearances. That’s by far the most on the Sixers.
The Sixers’ late attack didn’t always go smoothly on Saturday night. Embiid committed six of the Sixers’ 14 turnovers in the game. Those giveaways led to 23 Bulls points and helped Chicago clear a second half deficit of a whopping 14 points.
However, Embiid and Korkmaz managed to carry the Sixers across the finish line. Korkmaz deflated a massive three with 3:02 to go to extend the Sixers’ lead to 104-99. Embiid finished the game with a long-range jumper to make it 112-104 with 15.5 seconds left.
‘B-Ball Paul,’ NBA starter
Paul Reed, last season’s G League MVP, started his first NBA game in a lineup alongside Tyrese Maxey, Seth Curry, Shake Milton and Embiid.
Although Reed has a penchant for chaos, he mostly played his part, avoiding any wildness. In his first stint, Reed picked up a back tap steal, grabbed an offensive rebound and played solid defense in a tough matchup over DeMar DeRozan. The 22-year-old also threw a knocked back dunk early in the second quarter and did the same in the third.
DeRozan, who scored 37 points on the Sixers on Wednesday, started 0 for 4 from the floor. Reed guarded him closely, curbed the veteran’s urges, stayed ahead of him and effectively adhered to the basics of defense on the ball. However, he did bite on a fake DeRozan pump in the third quarter and also messed it up on a fourth quarter three.
That the Sixers stopped DeRozan from another monster game (25 points, four assists) was significant. The Bulls have definitely improved, but they don’t look like a great offensive team if DeRozan isn’t at a superstar level. Chicago relies on its top players and doesn’t have a lot of scoring pop.
In addition to his defensive versatility, Reed’s rebounding ability (and desire) can bolster his case for minutes when the Sixers have a healthier team. The Sixers went into Saturday’s game 23rd in the league in offensive rebound percentage and 26th in opponents offensive rebound percentage, according to Cleaning the Glass.
Reed’s was not flawless; he was called to a moving screen in the first period and stripped by DeRozan after passing a three in the third. Still, his evening as a whole was encouraging. In 22 minutes, Reed had 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting, five rebounds, a block and a steal.
Lots of Maxey minutes
Maxey played Allen Iverson-matched minutes in the past two games, totaling 69 on the Sixers road trip. Even for a player as energetic as Maxey, that’s not a pace the Sixers want to maintain over the course of the season.
While Maxey wasn’t bad at all (10 points, eight assists), Milton once again shone in a performance of 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists. He forced LaVine to take many contested jumpers and remained steady on the other side of the floor.
Milton stopped a 7-0 Bulls sprint in the third quarter with a key and-a-runner. Whenever the Sixers needed a bucket or a defensive play, it seems they got it on their winning streak. And Embiid has often not been needed to provide the momentum-spinning game.
Ten games in, the Sixers were remarkably gritty.
“I’m just thinking about our mental toughness. … You look at all the stuff — the junk, I like to call it — around the team — we’ve ignored it,” Rivers told reporters in Chicago before the game. “So I think if I could say one thing about this team so far – and it’s early days – it’s just the togetherness that they have. somehow managed to get them close. It’s been good so far.”