Three Normal Things: Sixers Vs. Hawks
Three Normal Things
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.
Welcome back to Three Normal Things! Here’s what’s on my mind following the completion of a two-game series between the Sixers and Atlanta Hawks:
#1: Anthony Tolliver signed for remainder of the season
Before we get to game-specific thoughts, it’s worth touching on the signing of Anthony Tolliver, who after two 10-day contracts has been added to the main roster for the remainder of the season.
With the buyout market being pretty barren this year, the team locking Tolliver in for the rest of the year is far from a surprise. He’s a 14-year NBA veteran who easily fits into an archetype -- the stretch four -- where the Sixers have not been able to get positive production.
Mike Scott has once again disappointed as a rotation regular. With Scott now trending toward becoming a nightly DNP-CD, it will be fascinating to see who Doc Rivers turns to if there is an injury to Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris or Matisse Thybulle, with those three being scheduled to get minutes at the four moving forward.
With Scott, you have the familiarity and a bit more strength. Tolliver is more of an unknown; all we can say for sure is that he is a high-level shooter. My gut tells me that Rivers would go to Scott because of the safety he may feel with someone he has extensive experience coaching. But you can only have a struggling player out there for so long.
Even if Tolliver remains seated behind Scott in the depth chart, with his signing the Sixers have locked in another option.
#2: All-bench lineups: good?!
Rivers’ constant insistence on using lineups made up of all bench players has been a bit confusing, if not frustrating. Those lineups have often struggled this season, with a lack of offensive creation being its biggest struggle.
Enter George Hill, whose stabilizing nature as a very good shooter, passer and ball-handler has helped the Sixers not just get by without their starters, but actually play well. And after an 11-2 opening run by the Hawks, Hill and the rest of the second unit turned the game around en route to a 19-point halftime differential.
As I wrote about on Wednesday night, Hill has already left a massive mark on the team despite limited opportunity. As he becomes more and more familiar with this team, the second unit will only improve.
Also, while we’re here: shoutout to Dwight Howard, who has looked much better of late and had what was possibly his best game as a Sixer tonight.
#3: Ben Simmons steals the show
Simmons was the real story tonight. In the first quarter where the game almost got away from the Sixers, it was Ben who bailed out the group by going downhill towards the rim and scoring inside.
On defense, Ben was his usual self: he defended guards, he defended wings, he defended bigs, and he did it all excellently. It was a classic Simmons performance on that side of the ball, and when that’s combined with an aggressive offensive performance and some sweet passes, you get a dominant force. And that’s exactly what Ben Simmons was tonight.