The NBA All-Star break is upon us, and with that comes All-Star weekend, the most exciting weekend of the regular season.
Philadelphia 76ers players Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons will participate in the festivities, as both will play in the All-Star Game on Sunday; Simmons will also play for Team World on Friday night in the Rising Stars Challenge.
With the Sixers (37-21) ranked fifth in the East, they have their highest win total at the break since the 1984-85 season. They’ve had some quality wins through their first 58 games, so here are the Sixers’ five best wins of the season so far.
January 21, 2019: Sixers defeated the Rockets,
The Sixers didn’t stop James Harden from scoring, but with the energy they played on defense in this game, Harden’s 37-point performance was almost an afterthought.
Philly’s energy on the defensive end was probably the highest it’s been all season, as the Sixers were one block away from tying their season-high of 15 blocks. Jonah Bolden led the team with four blocks, and Embiid had three blocks, including one at the end of the first half against Harden.
The Sixers’ performance was solid in other areas of the game as well. They shot 48.9 percent from the field, and five players scored in double figures; Embiid led the team with 32 points. This win is their best of the season primarily because of their energy on the defensive end, as Philly totaled nine steals as well.
January 31, 2019: Sixers defeated the Warriors,
For any team that’s looking to win a title, defeating the reigning champion Golden State Warriors in the regular season should not be considered a small feat.
A 42-point third quarter helped the Sixers gain a 95-86 lead heading into the fourth, and they didn’t lose the lead from there. Simmons and Embiid led the team with 26 points each, and Embiid had 20 rebounds, his second-highest rebound total for the season.
Steph Curry had 41 points, but a key part of the Sixers’ win was that the Warriors only shot 28.9 percent from the 3-point line.
February 8, 2019: Sixers defeated the Nuggets,
The Sixers’ first game after the trade deadline showed how much potential their new starting lineup has, as Tobias Harris displayed how he could mesh perfectly with the other starters.
Though Harris had 14 points in his Sixers debut, however, JJ Redick had a career night. Redick scored a season-high 34 points, and he shot 6-of-7 from the 3-point line.
Philly had newfound and better spacing with Harris in the starting lineup, and because of that good shots resulted. The Sixers shot 50 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from the 3-point line, and each of the starters scored in double figures.
December 22, 2018: Sixers defeated the Raptors
The Sixers had one of their best offensive outings of the season in this win over the Raptors.
Embiid, Redick and Simmons each scored at least 20 points, and Jimmy Butler and Furkan Korkmaz also scored in double figures. Simmons nearly had a triple double, as he grabbed 12 rebounds and dished eight assists. The month of December was a special one for Simmons; he posted three of his eight triple-doubles this season during that month.
The Raptors were without Kawhi Leonard for this game, but the Sixers still showed up on the defensive end, as they held Toronto to shooting 38.9 percent from the field and 25.0 percent from the 3-point line.
February 10, 2019: Sixers defeated the Lakers
The Sixers have reached 140 points twice this season, with the other time being against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
This win against the Lakers marked their second-highest point total of the season, and it also was the fourth time this season the Sixers have shot at least 50 percent from the field and the 3-point line.
Kyle Kuzma scored a game-high 39 points, but Embiid led the Sixers with a 37-point and 14-rebound performance. Along with Embiid, five other players scored in double figures.
The win against the Lakers showed again how the Sixers’ new roster can dominate the East going forward. Harris scored 22 points and Redick scored 21 points — both players shot at least 50 percent from the 3-point line. With those two providing spacing for Embiid, Simmons and Jimmy Butler, it’s intriguing to think about how productive this offense can be.