Pros and Cons: Sixers vs. Bulls
One of these numbers is 10-0.
Adam Aaronson, whose legal name is Sixers Adam (@SixersAdam on Twitter), covers the Sixers for The Rights To Ricky Sanchez. He has been legally banned from covering the team in person, and when that ban was set to be lifted, Covid-19 struck. He believes cantaloupe is the best food in existence, and is brought to you by the Official Realtor of The Process, Adam Ksebe.
Riding a five-game winning streak, the Sixers entered Chicago for a rematch against the Bulls, who they defeated last week in Philadelphia. Let’s get to Pros and Cons, shall we?
Pro: Joel Embiid getting back to his typical exploits
Embiid has been excellent this season, but he’s failed to impact the game as much on the offensive end as he did last year. Embiid’s scoring efficiency has gone way down -- and while his assists are up and his turnovers are down, he’s still leaving production to be desired.
Tonight, Embiid started with a few erratic misses and a flurry of turnovers. As the game continued, however, he finally looked more like the Embiid that nearly won last year’s MVP award. Embiid was his dominant self in the mid-range game, drew fouls at a high rate, and knocked four of five three-point attempts, finishing the game with 30 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks.
With or without Ben Simmons, the Sixers’ chances of being a legitimate championship contender hinge on which version of Embiid we see on offense. Embiid’s offensive struggles have been largely masked by the incredible shooting of his supporting cast. But as the season continues, the Sixers will need their centerpiece to lead the way. If tonight was any indication, he’s on his way to finding old form.
Con: Matisse Thybulle enters health and safety protocols
We found out late last night that Thybulle was joining Tobias Harris and Isaiah Joe as players sidelined due to issues regarding COVID-19. It remains unclear what Thybulle’s issue is and how long he will be out for, but one thing is certain: for however long he is unavailable, there will be a massive hole in the Sixers’ rotation.
With Danny Green out nursing a hamstring injury and Simmons sidelined as well, Thybulle’s availability was imperative for the Sixers’ perimeter defense. They have a severe lack of reliable perimeter defenders now that Thybulle is out -- and a perfect example of that is Paul Reed having to defend DeMar DeRozan tonight. For as long as Thybulle is out, things are going to be very tricky for Doc Rivers and Dan Burke.
Pro: Furkan Korkmaz returns with a vengeance
Korkmaz missed the Sixers’ win against the Pistons in Detroit due to a wrist injury, but returned tonight, and made his presence felt.
Korkmaz made all of his first four shot attempts, with each and every one coming from beyond the arc. He had 14 points in the first half alone, and they were big ones: with the Sixers’ half-court offense struggling early on, he gave them a lifeline that kept them hanging around, before they were able to surge in the second quarter and take a commanding lead.
Furkan brought it in the second half as well, hitting pivotal shots to halt Chicago runs and keep the Bulls in check. He finished with 25 points, and went an excellent 7-9 from beyond the arc.
In my preseason predictions piece before the year started, I predicted that Korkmaz would be the team’s most valuable all-around bench player. As good as Andre Drummond and Georges Niang have been in the frontcourt rotation, and as fun as Matisse Thybulle has been defensively, I feel comfortable with my call right now. Korkmaz is lightning in a bottle offensively, the classic spark plug who comes in and gives a much-needed dose of offensive skill. His shooting continues to be excellent, and it seems as if he improves as a ball-handler and as a creator with every passing game.