By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 4, 2018
Philadelphia 121, Brooklyn 95 – Box Score
On a day the Sixers honored the past with the unveiling of a Dr. J. statue, we were once again reminded how bright the present is for the franchise. Even with the entire starting frontcourt sidelined for the second straight game (Joel Embiid is basically a cyclops at the moment and Dario Saric is out until Friday with elbow cellulitis), Philadelphia still demolished Brooklyn to extend the team’s NBA-best winning streak to 11 games.
It’s the longest win streak for the Sixers since 1990, back when Charles Barkley was the Mound Round of Rebound and not yelling about a turtle rat. They’re not even sweating any of these games out, having won 9 straight by double digits, the longest such streak in the NBA this season. No one on the team was forced to play more than 28 minutes, a huge bonus considering the Sixers will be right back in action tonight in Detroit.
Facing a 25-win Brooklyn team that only appeared to be going through the motions at this point in the season, there was no shortage of standout performances. Ben Simmons was a victim of the team’s success yet again, missing out on a triple-double by sitting out the entire fourth quarter and finishing with 15 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists. A silver lining of Embiid being out is that it’s chipping away significantly at the “Simmons was only being propped up by Embiid” narrative. The club is still winning, with Simmons leading the way solo, bolstering his case for Rookie of the Year over Donovan Mitchell. I liked Ben’s unselfish reasoning for why the award would mean something to him:
Simmons on the ROTY race: “I feel like I would be winning it for Dario and Jo, for their year.”
— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) April 4, 2018
Meanwhile, Robert Covington terrorized the Nets defensively, ending his abbreviated evening with 4 steals and 3 blocks. He also knocked down 4 threes for 12 points, as he and J.J. Redick (game-high 19 points on 8-15 shooting) provided Simmons with ample support on the perimeter.
In a blowout contest, easily the most intriguing storyline of the night involved Markelle Fultz. For the first time since his return, we got to see Fultz and Simmons share the court, as the pair played about 3 minutes of game action together in the third quarter, outscoring Brooklyn 11-10. I thought the duo did a good job trading off as lead ball handler, and the offense never seemed bogged down, even with the spacing concerns. I would want to see it against an opponent with a glimmer of interest in playing defense though.
Fultz recorded 10 points and 3 assists on the game, looking the most aggressive we’ve seen him this season. Time and time again, he attacked the basket like he was John Wick and someone stole his dog. The shooting isn’t there (his one free throw attempt was pretty ugly), but Fultz is still finding a way to help the team.
— x – Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) April 4, 2018
As an added bonus, although Cleveland won, Denver was able to take care of business at home against Indiana. The Sixers now have a 1.5-game lead over the Pacers for home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Philadelphia will look to avoid a letdown against the Pistons tonight before the huge game against Cleveland Friday, easily the most important game remaining this regular season.