The depleted Philadelphia 76ers continue to find new ways to win.
The Sixers will look to extend their winning streak to seven with a thin roster when they host the New York Knicks on Monday.
Philadelphia is expected to be without Ben Simmons (personal reasons) along with Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and Isaiah Joe, the latter four due to health and safety protocols. Embiid is expected to miss several games after testing positive for COVID-19 on Monday. Danny Green, who missed the team’s 114-105 road victory over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, is questionable for Monday because of left hamstring tightness.
Even with the short-handed roster, the Sixers increased their winning streak to six with a balanced effort against the Bulls.
Embiid led the way with 30 points and 15 rebounds while Furkan Korkmaz tied his career high with seven 3-pointers on his way to a 25-point performance. Seven players reached double figures, including Paul Reed, who scored 10 in the first start of his two-year NBA career.
“I think (it’s) just our mental toughness,” said Sixers coach Doc Rivers, who earned his 1,000th career win on Saturday. “You look at all the stuff — the clutter, I like to call it — around the team — we’ve ignored it. So I think if I could say one thing about this team so far — and it’s early — it’s just the togetherness that they have.
“It’s a really close group, and all this stuff in some ways has kind of made them hunker in with each other. It’s been good so far.”
Embiid, who has been bothered by a sore right knee, played arguably his best game all season.
“The chemistry that we have is very different from the previous years,” Embiid said. “We’re complete. We’re on the same page. Everybody feels like they have something to prove.”
The Knicks will look to rebound after a surprising 126-109 loss to the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.
Julius Randle led the Knicks with 19 points, seven assists and seven rebounds and Derrick Rose added 17 points.
However, the Knicks struggled with their shooting, going 9 of 31 (29 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc. And their defense, which has been usually stingy since head coach Tom Thibodeau took over, allowed the Cavaliers to shoot 54 percent from the field, including 19 of 35 (54.3 percent) from long distance.
“Our defense wasn’t very good. Our rebounding wasn’t very good,” Thibodeau said. “If we’re gonna rely just strictly on offense, we’re gonna pay a price for it.”
The Knicks, who have dropped three of four, won’t have much time to dwell on the loss with a key matchup at Philadelphia coming in the second leg of a back-to-back.
“I feel like in critical moments, we can’t get stops. Give teams confidence early,” Randle said. “We just have to be better.”
It’s unclear if Kemba Walker will return to the lineup after sitting out Sunday’s defeat for rest.
“The big thing is there’s a lot of parts to this,” Thibodeau said. “There’s obviously (what) the medical people recommend, and then the player has a lot of say, too, because the player has to trust his body. And that’s an important part of this equation, which we don’t take lightly.”
–Field Level Media