The 76ers may have been without Jimmy Butler, but they were not without success, again, in Miami.
No, it will be a couple more days before Butler – acquired Monday from the Minnesota Timberwolves in a dramatic, energizing trade – dons on a Sixers uniform for the first time.
As for the teammates he’ll soon be joining, well, they delivered a strong victory Monday at American Airlines Arena, 124-114, over the Heat.
“We went out there, stayed with our concepts, and stayed together as a team,” said Ben Simmons, who tallied 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists.
After playing two overtime games in as many days over the weekend, the Sixers seemed to benefit from some Sunday rest. They came out clicking against Miami, Joel Embiid and JJ Redick in particular.
From start-to-finish, the duo proved tough to contain. Joel Embiid racked up 35 points (8-15 fg, 3-4 3fg) and 18 rebounds, while Redick supplied 25 points (11-20 fg, 3-9 3fg) in a starting role.
For Embiid, he now has more 30-point, 10-rebound games than he doesn’t. Monday marked his eighth in 15 appearances.
“No one can guard him,” Simmons said.
The Sixers also benefited from some nice bench play, as Furkan Korkmaz set a new career-high with 16 points (5-9 fg, 3-6 3fg). A masked Mike Muscala, returning from a face injury, chipped in with 13 points and 8 boards.
Rookie Landry Shamet chipped in with 10 points (3-5 fg, 2-4 3fg).
“It’s hard in the NBA to stand strong and have your spirit when you don’t play,” Brown said about the Sixers’ bench corps. “Especially for the guys who don’t play that much, it is very difficult to overcome.”
Several of the second-stringers did, however.
Throughout the majority of Monday’s competitive, up-and-down battle, the Sixers and Heat were neck-in-neck. Miami took a seven-point lead in the second period, but the Sixers fought back for a two-point, 64-62, halftime advantage.
Late in the fourth quarter, with the outcome still in doubt, Simmons helped put Monday’s game away. He threw down a pair of vicious dunks during a decisive 11-2 run that upped the lead from four to 14 points.
“It was a good win for us,” said Brown.
here for a complete box score.
Back on Track
Joel Embiid’s stat line Monday was another massive one.
He had a reason for that.
“I liked playing up to my potential like I’m supposed to,” said Embiid. “I wanted to go out there and prove to everyone that I am the best player in the league.”
The 7-foot All-Star logged heavy minutes over the weekend, when the Sixers played overtime games at home Friday versus Charlotte, and on the road Saturday at Memphis.
Against the Grizzlies, he acknowledged he wasn’t feeling like himself. Monday in South Florida, it was clear that he was.
“When you look at the numbers when Joel Embiid is on the floor with the Philadelphia 76ers, it is impressive,” Brown said.
Embiid’s 5.7 on-court net rating is the highest among all Sixers. So too is the club’s -12.4 net rating when he’s off the court.
“I just went in there with the mentality to dominate,” said Embiid.
With the Jimmy Butler deal temporarily leaving the Sixers shorthanded, there were minutes to be had the past two games.
Furkan Korkmaz made the most of his. Coming off the bench Monday in Miami, he netted a career-high 16 points.
This effort followed a 12-point showing Saturday in Memphis.
“That’s what life’s about, it’s opportunity,” said Brett Brown. “You just have to stay ready.”
“I felt I played good today, and we won,” Korkmaz said. “I just want to be perfect for the team. I want to keep showing I can play in any role, and I did that tonight.”
The turnovers were relatively low for the Sixers at the outset of the new season. Lately, however, they’ve become more prevalent.
Saturday in Memphis, for instance, the team gave the ball away 23 times.
But against the Miami Heat, the Sixers yielded just 10 turnovers, which tied a season-low.
Brett Brown was glad the message got home.
“I told [the team] you can do whatever you want, but the bottom line is, we are not going to win,” he said.
More turnovers typically means more shots for the opposition. Monday, it was the other way around.
“They did a good job in that area tonight,” said Brown.
‘Gram of the Game:
Outside, inside, any side – Joel Embiid scored all over the court Monday.
To close out a three-game road trip, the Sixers will roll out their brand new All-Star addition. If all goes according to plan, the recently acquired Jimmy Butler will make his first appearance in red, white, and blue Wednesday against the Orlando Magic. The Sixers snuck past Orlando, 116-115, the third game of the season. That night, Joel Embiid went for 32 points, while JJ Redick finished with 31.