Sixers sweep Spurs for first time in 14 years

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Philadelphia 97, San Antonio 78 – Box Score

Is it too soon to say the student has become the teacher? After Friday night’s victory, Sixers head coach Brett Brown has to feel good about sweeping the season series against former mentor Gregg Popovich and the Spurs, the first time Philadelphia has swept San Antonio since 2004. Remarkably, it was also just the second time the Sixers have won in San Antonio since 1985.

To pull off the rare feat, the Sixers played nearly a flawless game. A team that’s practically made turning the ball over into an artform, this time Philadelphia went the first 18 minutes of the game without committing a turnover. They ended up giving it away just once in the first half, and kept things to a reasonable level after halftime, finishing the game with just 9 turnovers. It was the first time this season in single digits for the Sixers.

Not turning it over allowed the Sixers to get their defense set in the halftime, where the length of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and company definitely gave San Antonio problems. The Spurs couldn’t get anything going on the interior, and were ice cold from the perimeter, going 0-10 from three in the first half. In all, San Antonio missed their first 14 triples before finally connecting, finishing 3-24 from behind the arc on the game. The 31 first half points for the Spurs were the fewest allowed by the Sixers this season.

One guy who didn’t have trouble putting the ball in the basket was Ben Simmons. In his second outstanding game since being left off the All-Star team, Simmons shot a near-perfect 10-11 from the field for a game-high 21 points. The rookie knocked down one elbow jumper, but the rest of his damage was done at the rim, where he was able to get to on command. People may call for Simmons to diversify his offensive game, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Flanking Simmons, it was another ho-hum double-double for Joel Embiid, who finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Like the team as a whole, Embiid did a great job taking care of the basketball. He proudly tweeted out his 0 turnovers line after the game.

While the Sixers are very thin on the wings at the bottom, they have seen different players step up. Friday night, it was Justin Anderson’s turn. Anderson scored 12 points off the bench, shooting 5-7 from the field and draining both of his three-point attempts. The former Maverick is a dogged defender, and any time his shot is falling he’s a positive asset for the team. The only problem is good shooting nights like this one come less frequently than you would like.

2018 continues to be a stellar year for the Sixers, who have won 9 of their last 11 and sit just 1.5 games out of the 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. Imagine that, Philadelphia having home court advantage in a playoff series. I think even the last lingering doubters have come around on the Process.

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