It was a cold December night, but down at the Wells Fargo Center there were fireworks like the Fourth of July.
Philadelphia and Oklahoma City slugged it out during the NBA’s first triple and double overtime game of the season.
The Sixers ended up falling to OKC 119-117 in what felt like a game they had no business winning.
They didn’t take their first lead of the game until the first overtime period and had to pull off an 11-0 run at the end of the fourth just to send the game to OT.
Once they battled all the way back, Russell Westbrook decided to take the game over. He scored 14 of his 27 during the three overtime periods. That’s 3 more points than the 11 the rest of the Thunder scored combined. Westbrook also finished with an insane line of 27 points, 18 rebounds and 15 assists.
During the late stages the game started to get a little chippy with Joel Embiid, Steven Adams, and Carmelo Anthony. Through the end of regulation and into overtime Joel and Carmelo exchanged words and had to be separated.
Adams, who fouled out in the 3rd OT received a resounding wave goodbye from the Philadelphia crowd lead by Joel.
Westbrook ended up getting the W and had some parting words for Embiid himself, telling the big man to “go home” after the final buzzer.
The game was easily the most entertaining this year in the NBA - and primetime no less. OKC’s big three all scored in the 20’s as Paul George and Anthony both finished the night with 24. Philly was much more spread out as they had 5 players in double figures led by Joel with 34 points during his career high 49 minutes.
Simmons finished 1 rebound shy of a triple double grabbing 12 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds and 4 steals. Ben seemed awfully timid during the game when it came to taking shots. My one criticism of his game all year has been his fear of shooting the ball. He doesn’t have confidence in his shot but he eventually will need to just let it fly.
Another Sixer that maybe should have shot less on Friday was Robert Covington. His first game back from injury showed a little rust as he went 3 for 15 from three and 4 for 21 overall. He was however +5, one of only two Sixers’ starters that were a + for the game (other being Embiid.)
Next up for the Sixers are the 8-20 Chicago Bulls.
After a brutal 10 game losing streak, Chicago finds themselves winners of their last 5. They are led by Nikola Mirotic who is back in the lineup since the 5 game win streak started. He missed the beginning of the season after teammate Bobby Portis literally broke the big man’s face in the preseason during a scuffle in practice.
Sixers come into tonight’s game as 2.5 point favorites vs the red hot Bulls. With no Embiid tonight due to rest it will be Holmes job to slow down Mirotic. This game is going to be decided by defensive effort tonight. The Bulls average 98.2 points a game this season but during this 5 game sprint that number is at 109.8.
The Sixers defense lately has been lackluster and they haven’t held a team to under 100 points since November 22nd vs the Portland Trail Blazers. Sixers need to step up their efforts tonight as they look to avoid dipping below .500 for the first time since October.
I look for Simmons to get aggressive tonight knowing that Embiid will be resting. This should be a tough game back and forth but I love the Sixers tonight to cover the 2.5.
This feels like the perfect opportunity for Holmes to have a breakout game. Time for this team to prove they are clearly better than the lower rung squads.