Pros and Cons: Sixers vs. Spurs
Focusing on an elite partnership.
Adam Aaronson, whose legal name is Sixers Adam (@SixersAdam on Twitter), covers the Sixers for The Rights To Ricky Sanchez. He believes cantaloupe is the best food in existence, and is brought to you by the Official Realtor of The Process, Adam Ksebe.
Welcome back to Pros and Cons! Tonight, the Sixers returned home to face a young San Antonio Spurs team coming off an upset victory over the Celtics in Boston. Usually, I try to focus on every aspect of each game. But tonight, it feels appropriate to focus in particular on two players that form a dominant pairing.
Pro: Seth Curry and Joel Embiid, dynamic duo
Early on in Embiid’s career, he flourished most when playing alongside an elite shooter -- most notably JJ Redick. In 2019-20, after Redick departed for New Orleans, there was a massive hole in the Sixers’ offense, one that made life much harder for Embiid.
Enter Curry. He and Redick are different players in several respects, but they share an ability to enable Embiid’s greatness to an even greater degree than it already is.
As time has gone on, Curry and Embiid have gone from hypothetical dance partners to teammates who make each other better, and now they are flat-out dominant when playing off each other.
With this team in particular, we often talk about who the leading perimeter scoring option is. And in some cases, the Sixers do need more ball-handling regulars. But in the half-court, Curry and Embiid combine to create what is easily the team’s most effective form of offense.
When you can wield the threat of Embiid’s scoring prowess first, then the threat of Curry’s jumper at the same time, all while those two players are perfectly in sync with one another, there’s no defense that can consistently get stops.
These two deserve even more love. So let’s keep it coming.
Pro: Curry is more than a shooter
I’ve often thought of Curry as a unitasker on the floor. And for a time, that was warranted. In his time in Philadelphia, he’s gradually improved at just about everything. But since the extended absence of Tyrese Maxey began, Curry has shown himself to be a player I did not think he was capable of being.
In his last 10 games entering tonight, Curry is averaging nearly six assists and four rebounds per game, showing he is far more than just a shooter. He’s been tasked with the very difficult responsibility of handling point guard duties, and he’s taken it in stride and done a more than satisfactory job -- and he’s done so while maintaining his excellent scoring that has been consistent since last year’s postseason.
There are still very valid concerns about Curry’s defense and whether or not he can stay on the court in the highest leverage situations. But Curry has become a full-fledged, all-around stud on the offensive end. He’s given the Sixers a big boost all year long, and even at the age of 31, he’s finding ways to improve.
Pro: Point Embiid makes another appearance
Embiid’s passing has been noticeably better this season, an effort punctuated by a triple-double on Monday against the Rockets. Tonight, Embiid was once again able to set the table for others, serving as an excellent initiator.
The biggest thing going for Embiid as a passer right now is his composure. Once an often-erratic passer, he has learned how to slow the game down and make the right reads, time after time.
Embiid is a score-first center. And he’ll never be Nikola Jokic or Bill Walton. But over the last few years, Embiid has turned his passing from a true weakness to a significant strength. It’s not long ago that Embiid didn’t know how to handle double-teams. Now, though, he sees every kind of coverage you can think of and handles them with relative ease.