On paper, the Sacramento Kings and Philadelphia 76ers franchises should not have that many connection points. Reality is, over the past 20 seasons, the Kings and Sixers have connected in some odd and interesting ways. From the epic must see TV of the Allen Iverson versus Chris Webber twice yearly track meet, to the Nik Stauskas trade, the franchises have intertwined in quirky ways that are at best NBA subplots, but add texture to a league full of small scale war stories.
The Kings entered Philadelphia boasting a roster with a former Process Sixer in Richaun Holmes. In addition, they started a player who spurned the team days after verbally agreeing to a free agent contract in July 2018. Nemanja Bjelica had agreed to join the Sixers’ front court before backing out of his commitment in favor of signing in Sacramento instead. Bjelica (pronounced Bee-Ah-Leet-Sah) would have complimented the Sixers’ roster as another stretch big to provide spacing for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. He was booed loudly before Wednesday’s game, a show of long memories from the home crowd.
“Life sure would be a hell of a lot easier if you could make some threes and if you didn’t throw the ball away.”Brett Brown on the Sixers’ early struggles
Front Offices Meet
After Monday’s frustrating and bewildering scoreless outing versus Toronto, Embiid came into Wednesday’s game looking to unleash some fury and release some frustration on the Kings’ front court. He drove to the rim and dunked powerfully just seconds in, on the game’s first offensive possession. In his first 5 minute shift, he scored 4 points and gathered 7 rebounds. “If teams are going to go at Joel, there is a role… as a quarterback,” Brett Brown said when talking about Embiid and the Sixers’ offense when Embiid is doubled in the post.
Embiid would go on to dominate the game, especially in the crucial early portion of the fourth quarter. He finished the game with a team high 33 points and 16 rebounds. “Did it surprise anybody?” asked Brett Brown after the game. For Embiid’s part, he denied any frustration after the game, pointing to a sense that he made the right plays Monday. Embiid pointed to maturation as part of his focus. Still, 33 and 16 is basically what most predicted against a Kings team after facing Toronto.
Matisse Thybulle’s Career Night
Matisse Thybulle took the league by surprise in the first couple of weeks. Since the beginning of the West Coast trip, however, Thybulle had been getting spotty playing time. But the Sixers have struggled to connect from deep after a few hot games. Matisse Thybulle was a standout in a third quarter that created some separation. He was excellent on defense and scored 8 points in the third to give the Sixers some breathing room.
Thybulle finished with 15 points on 5-5 shooting, including 3-3 from deep. This came in a relief role for the team who was missing Josh Richardson who left in the second quarter with tightness in his right hamstring.
“He looked fundamentally correct and balanced.”Brett Brown on Matisse Thybulle.
Thybulle was perfect from the field, from the line and from three tonight. 5/5 2/2 and 3/3. 15 points 3 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks.— J Blevins (@JBlevinsNBA) November 28, 2019
Harris, Scott and Horford struggle from deep
Tobias Harris similarly started the game hot with 6 points in the first 7 minutes of the game. Harris has been shooting well and scoring efficiently since an early season slump which had some people questioning his max contract from the summer. The rest of the game was a struggle for Harris offensively, who was 5-15 from the field and 0-4 from three.
He wasn’t the only one to struggle from deep. The offense was generating open shots from the corner, but Mike Scott, Tobias Harris, and Al Horford went a combined 0-13 from long distance.
Buddy Hield Gets Loose
Buddy Hield and other interesting sights. pic.twitter.com/UCvybqGk1T— J Blevins (@JBlevinsNBA) November 27, 2019
Hield had a low efficiency, high volume night offensively. He scored 22 points but needed 24 shots to get that raw output. The Sixers’ defense forced him into 3 of the Kings’ 11 turnovers, and he was just 3-of-12 from deep.
As fans on Twitter noticed Elton Brand and Vlade Divac meeting, they immediately went to the hope that the discussion surrounded Bogdan Bogdanovic. The 6’6″ 27 year old Serbian is a perfect theoretical fit for the 76ers, but the contract would be both difficult to match in a trade and difficult to re-sign him next summer. He makes $8.5 million this season and will likely be due for a huge raise. Any trade for BogBog, as he is nicknamed, would likely have to involve fan favorite Mike Scott. Scott is a floor spacer and tone setter who makes just $5 million next season. So, as much as Bogdanovic might help the Sixers’ offense, it would almost certainly be a one year rental.
Bogdan Bogdanovic pic.twitter.com/iPExufLNHd— J Blevins (@JBlevinsNBA) November 27, 2019
The Ebb and Flow at Home
The 76ers have benefitted from a favorable schedule thus far in the season and have been undefeated at home. Heading into Wednesday, the Kings were on the tail end of a long East Coast road trip and looked to be ripe to be run out of the gym. The Sixers started fast and seemed primed to take control of the game at times, but ultimately turnovers kept Sacramento in the game.
With Thybulle’s eight third quarter points, the Sixers gave themselves some breathing room. As the third quarter ended the Sixers led Sacramento 76-65, despite shooting just 3-of-17 from beyond the arc.
As the fourth quarter began, the Sixers settled into a lead of 16 points with 10 minutes remaining. This came from Embiid getting going and Matisse Thybulle continuing to attack the rim and create havoc defensively. The lead, however, was hard to sustain as the Sixers missed three after three. With just 2 minutes remaining, it was a 7 point game. Embiid drew a crucial foul on a pump fake, up-and-under move that stretched the lead to 9 and essentially iced the game away. He and Simmons were dominant on the glass, with the latter collecting 14 rebounds.
Sixers Survive Turnovers and Missed Threes
Despite turning the ball over 17 times and missing 21-of-26 three point attempts, the Sixers held off the Kings to win 97-91. They are 8-0 at home this season, to which Brett Brown gives extraordinary credit to the home crowd.
"Life sure would be a hell of a lot easier if you could make some threes and if you didn't throw the ball away" Brett Brown on tonight's 97-91 Win.— J Blevins (@JBlevinsNBA) November 28, 2019
"Our defense has been good, it's our backbone, its our rudder, and it keeps us straight" pic.twitter.com/ghdDVfL2Bk