In the Sixers’ away game against the Indiana Pacers Thursday night, there were reasons for optimism up and down the roster, but not the least of which was Jimmy Butler exploding for 27 points and 5 rebounds.
Impossible to ignore was Embiid’s limited but crucial presence, as he played 35 minutes with frequent breaks due to lower back soreness and stiffness. It sure felt like he only played 25 minutes or so, but he took plenty of short breaks to the bench to be worked on by the training staff.
Every single one of Indiana’s starters posted a negative +/-, even Thad Young who had 27 points. All of the Sixers’ starters, even including Chandler, somehow, had a positive +/-.
This game comes as a huge morale boost as the Sixers begin a truly hellish stretch of games over the next few weeks. Plenty of away games against Western Conference teams, and every team until they play the Knicks in February have winning records.
This game was against a well-coached, fantastic shooting and strong defensive team, and the Sixers came to play tonight. This was especially significant as the Pacers are among the echelon of teams that the Sixers would play in either the first round of the playoffs (4/5 seed game) or the second round. Of course, on any given night Oladipo would probably have a better game, and Muscala isn’t going to be knocking down corner 3’s in a 7-game series.
Speaking of 3-balls, Redick went 6-9 from beyond the arc, including some contested shots off the dribble and plenty of Dribble-Hand-Off action with Embiid.
The Sixers are back in action against the Thunder Saturday, in another early game in the gauntlet.