Pros and Cons: Sixers vs. Bulls
Good and bad after Sixers-Bulls.
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.
After his absence in the Sixers’ loss to Miami on Saturday night, James Harden returned tonight for a home matchup against the Chicago Bulls. Here’s what jumped out to me tonight:
Pro: Furkan Korkmaz out of the rotation
I feel a bit bad about listing this as a good thing, but frankly, the Sixers had no other choice.
Korkmaz is shooting just 29 percent from beyond the arc this season, a putrid number that punctuates his unlikely slump that has lasted nearly the entire season.
When Korkmaz was shooting poorly but developing as a ball-handler, playing him made sense -- Tyrese Maxey could only take on so much of a workload, so the team needed anyone who could competently handle the ball.
Things have changed since then. Harden is here alongside Maxey, and even Shake Milton is now available after missing many games with a back injury. So while Korkmaz’s ball-handling development was noteworthy at times, it’s no longer required.
The fact of the matter is this: the current version of the Sixers needs shot-makers. And for whatever reason, Korkmaz hasn’t been that guy in months.
Pro: Harden optimizes Matisse Thybulle
I am of the belief that every single second Thybulle spends on the floor should be shared with Harden. Not only for the defense that Thybulle adds to those lineups, but for the offensive formula he and Harden have figured out to make Thybulle useful offensively.
Tonight, Thybulle scored 12 points -- and every single one of them came as a result of Harden’s genius passing, whether it was an assist or a pass leading to free throws.
Whether it was making himself available cutting in the half-court or leaking out in transition, Thybulle did all of the right things, and was rewarded plenty by a brilliant facilitator in Harden who was able to weaponize Thybulle’s athleticism and hand-eye coordination.
We all know Thybulle has significant shortcomings offensively. But when he shares the floor with Harden, he can provide some utility on that end -- and that, combined with his stellar defense, makes him an easy bet to start for the rest of the season.
Pro: Joel Embiid dominates
A whole lot of players could have taken over tonight and made the game about them. DeMar DeRozan is one of the most prolific scorers in the entire NBA. Few can get hot like Zach LaVine. And of course, James Harden puts up gaudy numbers on a nightly basis.
Tonight, though, it was all about Embiid.
Embiid absolutely destroyed Chicago’s front line, totaling 43 points and 14 rebounds on just 27 field goal attempts. The Bulls had absolutely zero answers for Embiid, who also shot 16 free throws as he carved up Tristan Thompson, Sixers legend Tony Bradley and Derrick Jones, Jr.
Embiid is on pace to lead the NBA in points per game, and he gave himself even more wiggle room atop the mountain with a fantastic showing tonight.