The haters will say it’s just one game. But Tuesday’s 110-103 76ers win over the Clippers was something more.
It was a look at The Ceiling.
It was everything the team and its fans saw in their mind’s eyes when the Sixers were assembled last summer.
In late September, at a team media luncheon, Brett Brown puffed out his chest and told anyone and everyone, “When you all leave the room, you should all write this and hear me loudly: We will end up playing smash mouth offense and bully ball defense.”
The team had made good on his prediction, in fits and starts. Maybe one night you would get the SmashMouth Offense, and another night you’d get the BullyBall D.
You almost never saw both on the same night. Certainly not for 48 minutes.
The win Tuesday, over a Clippers team with similar star power and championship aspirations, was the most complete performance by the Sixers this season.
Tobias Harris, criticized for being too passive at times on offense, played like he was fired out of a cannon in the first quarter. He finished the opening 12 minutes with 11 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and a poster-worthy dunk on Clippers big man Montrezl Harrell.
HOLY RACK ATTACK.
Tobias Harris showing off for his ex (team) with this absolute yam. pic.twitter.com/XxrfktYRZq
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) February 12, 2020
Josh Richardson returned to the starting lineup for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury three weeks ago. He was a killer in the 4th quarter, dropping 17 of his 21 points when the Clippers keyed on Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
The two All-Stars were both dominant, aggressive and efficient at both ends of the floor all night. Simmons notched a triple-double for the second straight game, and when he wasn’t attacking the rim, he was setting screens for Embiid, or vice versa. They finished with 26 points apiece.
It was also a banner night for the head coach. Brett Brown made a bold move with his starting lineup, swapping out Al Horford for Furkan Korkmaz. While Korkmaz’s hot shooting didn’t continue (zero points), Horford provided much-needed energy off the bench, especially at the defensive end. Brown also dialed up the right game plan, which featured Simmons and Embiid working together, and a healthy dose of Embiid down low.
In essence, it was one game. And if they can reach The Ceiling more often, a deep playoff run isn’t out of the question.
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