The San Antonio Spurs lost to the Philadelphia 76ers by a final score of 133-123 on Monday night in a game that will be remembered for what Joel Embiid did. The superstar center scored a franchise record 70 points for the Sixers on 24-for-41 shooting from the field and 21-for-23 shooting from the free throw line. Embiid added 18 rebounds and five assists, while turning it over only once and committing just two fouls.
Despite’s Embiid’s gargantuan affair, the Spurs kept it surprisingly close. San Antonio was up 35-34 after the end of the first quarter and trailed 62-58 at the half. The Sixers built a cushion in the middle of the third quarter but the Spurs did a pretty good job of staying within striking distance despite Embiid’s explosion.
I wouldn’t classify this as a moral victory but San Antonio’s offense showed a lot of signs of life, even if the defense struggled to put up much of a fight.
Stats: Spurs at 76ers
Spurs at 76ers – Final Grades
Offensively, Wembanyama did great. He ran the court hard, fought for position, battled his way to the free throw line and authored a handful of heady passes. Wembanyama ended up with an efficient 33 points in 28 minutes while finishing with only one turnover. He’s really in a good groove right now offensively and is learning to eliminate the unnecessary elements from his game on that end. Defensively, well, Embiid had 70 points. I thought Wembanyama had a number of good defensive possessions against Embiid. However, things went sour after Wembanyama got in foul trouble. When the rookie was trying to avoid fouls, Embiid was able to feast.
Vassell has quietly improved his playmaking quite a bit over the last month or so. Against the Sixers, he handed out nine assists and turned it over just once. His passing on the move and after getting a screen is impressive right now. His chemistry with Wembanyama is growing by leaps and bounds. Scoring-wise, Vassell did well against Philadelphia. He had 22 points on only 13 field goal attempts. Defensively, he was really quiet. The Spurs need more from him on that end — going through the motions is not enough.
The good: Sochan hit half of his three-point attempts and is now shooting 38.1% from three-point range on the season. He tallied three offensive rebounds and his passing was once again a plus. He’s really starting to settle down and see the court a lot better. The bad: Sochan was only 2-for-6 from two-point range. He also passed up four or five jumpers he needs to shoot to keep the defense honest. When Sochan tried to defend Embiid, he basically had no chance.
Jones did decently well. He put 12 points on the board by attacking the basket when everyone on the Sixers was preoccupied. His playmaking wasn’t as good as normal but he limited his mistakes and kept the pace flowing. Defensively, Jones didn’t provide as much pressure as usual. All in all, he was pretty good but we’ve seen him a lot better. The bad news is Jones left the game late with an ankle injury. Hopefully he can bounce back soon because the Spurs have looked a lot better with him in the starting lineup.
This is the type of outing the coaching staff imagined when putting Champagnie in the starting five. He spread the court really well, hit all three of his three-point bombs and also made all three of his freebies. At the end of the night, Champagnie had an efficient 12 points in 15 minutes while playing adequate defense.
McDermott was extremely aggressive but all his activity didn’t really pay off. He led the bench with 13 points but it took him 12 shots to reach that mark — and that’s including a banked in three-pointer. McDermott also had two turnovers and his defense was clearly a liability for large stretches at a time.
Johnson took a shot to the face in the first half and required stitches. That understandably seemed to knock him out of rhythm. Johnson missed all four of his three-point attempts and didn’t look totally focused on defense. That said, he had some super strong takes to the rack and was able to finish over the trees. He also kept his mistakes to a minimum during his 21 minutes of action.
Ouch. The idea behind keeping Collins around was that he’d be the type of player who could guard someone like Embiid to keep the wear and tear off of Wembanyama. That … didn’t happen on Monday night. When Collins defended Embiid, the Sixers superstar easily scored. He was rarely able to even make Embiid go to a secondary move. On the other end, Collins was equally as bad. He was 0-for-7 from the field in 20 minutes. Collins being bad against Philadelphia made it impossible for San Antonio to survive non-Victor minutes.
Well, it looks like Wesley has won the full-time backup point guard job. Malaki Branham got a DNP-CD and Wesley played 19 important minutes. He did well. Defensively, he was all over the place. His physicality was impressive and his quickness made life difficult for Sixers guards. Offensively, while his playmaking was a little worse than usual, he didn’t turn the ball over and finished well in the paint once again. Overall, Wesley didn’t do anything to hurt his chances of keeping his spot in the rotation.
Osman ran the court with purpose in transition like he usually does. He rebounded well and helped make sure the pace was speedy. Osman only played 11 minutes but he made sure that that his impact was felt.
Considering that the Sixers were running the same play for much of the game, one would hope that Pop could find a way to slow it down. Then again, with Wembanyama in foul trouble and Collins MIA, not many options remained. Considering the circumstances, I thought the rotation was fine. The playcalling helped get Wembanyama going and produced a lot of open threes.