The Philadelphia 76ers returned home on Saturday for the final two games of the regular season looking to officially clinch home-court advantage for Round 1 of the playoffs. In a matchup with the rebuilding Indiana Pacers, the Sixers were looking to finish the job and make sure the first weekend of the playoffs will be in South Philadelphia.
They did race out to a big lead against these Pacers as they did in their previous matchup with them on Tuesday. Philadelphia led by as many as 21, but Indiana fought back and they stuck around cutting the lead to single digits in this one. Eventually, the Sixers were able to come away with a 133-120 victory at home.
Joel Embiid led Philadelphia with 41 points and 20 rebounds with four assists, James Harden had 22 points and 14 assists, Tobias Harris had 18 points, and Tyrese Maxey added 18 points and five assists. Danny Green started in place of Matisse Thybulle and had 15 points and Paul Reed had eight and five rebounds off the bench.
Here are the player grades after the win:
Once again, Harden struggled shooting the basketball, but he got to the free-throw line to score his points and he also got his teammates involved. It’s hard to tell if the hamstring is still bothering him or if he’s just saving his energy for the playoffs. That remains to be seen, but The Beard did another great job of being effective despite the tough shooting performance. After settling for 3s mostly early, he was able to get to the basket a bit more in the second half.
Early foul trouble limited his effectiveness, but this was an overall solid game for Maxey. The rapid development of this kid on the offensive end has been so impressive and he has been so good at knocking down open 3s and getting into the paint and being able to get open looks for himself. It is good that he is getting a bit of a rhythm before the postseason begins.
Starting Green again could be a signal for the playoffs. The Sixers are likely going to face the Toronto Raptors in Round 1 of the postseason and Thybulle can’t play in games in Toronto due to the vaccination rule. Therefore, the Sixers probably want Green to get some chemistry with the new lineup before the postseason begins. Just a theory, but it would make sense. He was active in this one as he was getting himself open from deep and he was aggressive in attacking the glass. He knocked down enough 3s to help space the floor and if they can continue to get this production from Green, it would be huge for them.
This one continued a good trend for Harris in terms of being aggressive to start games. He wasn’t hesitating on any of his open looks, when the defender did closeout, he was making quick decisions, and if the Sixers are getting this version of Harris going into the playoffs, they will certainly be in a much better position. It would be nice if he would get more looks late in games. It seems like he gets off to these fast starts and then he doesn’t get many looks after. Give him credit for taking advantage of most of his opportunities.
The big fella drew fouls on the Pacers on the first three possessions of the game that should tell you all you need to know as Embiid really went to work against an inexperienced Pacers lineup. There wasn’t much that Indiana could do in this one as they just don’t have the personnel to match up with him at this point. He completely took the game over in the third quarter when the Pacers made their run. The only real criticism of his game in this one was he wasn’t as impactful on defense as he normally is.
The defensive stud came off the bench in his return to the team and it remains to be seen if this will be a permanent change, but it would make sense if it is. He did what he normally does in this one. He had a steal and he was getting after it on defense. He looked a little hesitant on offense and that will have to change starting April 16.
Milton got some run early with Maxey picking up two fouls and he immediately drove into Indiana’s defense and scored. Other than that, he wasn’t all that great, but the fact that he has been aggressive with his shot and offense is a welcomed sign. That will be helpful in the playoffs.
Bball Paul got the backup minutes again and he still looked out of place at times on the defensive end and he committed some silly fouls, but with that being said, he didn’t play terrible. He was active on the glass, he was active around the rim, and he did a good job of finishing in traffic on the offensive end. Ultimately, he had five fouls in 10 minutes. That will be tough in the playoffs. Especially against the Raptors.
The second-year guard got some first-half run and he made a few plays. He did a good job of moving without the basketball which is something that he has struggled with whenever he has played this season. He did a good job of cutting to the basket and he was solid against Buddy Hield. He got some run in the second half as well.
Again, a possible playoff preview given the situation with Thybulle, but Korkmaz got some run in this one. He only played five minutes in the first half and he missed his one shot attempt.