The Philadelphia 76ers (22-16) defeated the San Antonio Spurs (15-23) 119-100. As a result, the 76ers extended their win streak to six straight. Statistically, Joel Embiid led Philadelphia with 31 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists. For San Antonio, Dejounte Murray poured in 27 points, 8 assists, and 3 steals. Ultimately, this was a dominant performance from the 76ers, and here are my three takeaways:

Joel Embiid’s Offensive Dominance

Joel Embiid was nothing short of elite offensively in every aspect in tonight’s win. As previously mentioned, the MVP candidate contributed 31 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists. What’s more, this is Embiid’s sixth consecutive 30-point performance. 

Obviously, the short-handed San Antonio Spurs had no answer for Embiid’s dominant paint presence. No matter what they threw at him, whether that was a 2-3 zone defense, or a double team, it was useless. Also, Jakob Poeltl is one of the better rim protectors in the NBA, and he even stood no chance. To boot, the Philadelphia MVP candidate forced Poeltl to pick up two early fouls with barely two minutes gone in the first quarter. Further, Joel’s elite abilities to draw fouls and maneuver his way to the basket proved too much for the Spurs. 

However, Joel Embiid wouldn’t be able to have had this much success without his impressive playmaking skills. Evidently, Embiid’s improved instincts to pass out of double teams, finding cutters, and to find mismatches in the post, elevated his performance. Specifically, the big fella had a strong connection with swingman Matisse Thybulle tonight. As you saw, Thybulle was very active off the ball, especially off the baseline, and Embiid connected with him quite a bit as he cut to the basket. Overall, when Embiid facilitates like he did tonight, it makes him even more lethal and the 76ers offense is beautiful to observe. 

Efficient Tobias Harris

It’s been quite a week for Tobias Harris and the fans of Philadelphia. On Monday, Harris was struggling horribly, and was booed on almost every possession. As a result, he got very frustrated with the fans, and said some things he later apologized for. 

Since then, Harris has been much better and has played to his strengths. In the last two games, the forward averaged 22.5 points per game, shot 58.1% from the field, and connected on 50% of his three-point attempts. Tonight, Tobias dropped 23 points and 7 assists on 9-12 (75%) shooting from the field. 

It’s commonly said, but it’s very true in this case, it seems the game has slowed down for Tobias Harris as of lately. Against San Antonio, he made very quick decisions with the ball and was very aggressive as a slasher. Furthermore, he recognized the right opportunities to take it to the basket and cut down on his excessive dribbling. When Harris struggles, he tends to dribble too much without any direction, which often leads to a poor shot, or a turnover. All in all, Tobias Harris has played his role perfectly tonight, and looks to remain consistent on Monday vs. Houston. 

Matisse Thybulle vs. Dejounte Murray

In the absence of Ben Simmons, Matisse Thybulle often gets assigned the opposing team’s best perimeter player, and rightfully so. Since Thybulle did an exceptional job on superstar Steph Curry last month, it seems like Thybulle can guard anyone. Tonight, the third-year forward had to face the crafty Dejounte Murray. 

Although Murray led San Antonio in scoring with 27 points, this doesn’t tell the whole story. In the 1st quarter, Matisse Thybulle held the Spurs guard to 0 points on 0-2 shooting from the field. Throughout the game, Thybulle did a fantastic job of contesting Murry’s shots and forced him to pass out on multiple possessions. Furthermore, Matisse used his wingspan and quickness to cut Murray off from the paint, despite Dejounte’s high-level rim pressure. In reaction, San Antonio started to run double-drag screens and picks from within the perimeter in an attempt to get Thybulle off of their leading scorer. As a matter of fact, most of Dejounte’s points came off of screens, or when he was not guarded by Philadelphia’s defensive specialist. To boot, Matisse had 6 contested shots, 5 deflections, and 2 steals. To summarize, it was another defensive masterclass from Matisse Thybulle. 

The Philadelphia 76ers will rematch the Houston Rockets on Monday (January 10th) at 8:00 pm ET in H-Town. Joel Embiid hopes to continue his hot scoring streak, and Philadelphia looks to extend their win streak to seven games.