The Philadelphia 76ers (48-22) and Indiana Pacers (32-39) faced off with each side’s respective floor generals, James Harden and Tyrese Haliburton, just two of the multiple players to sit out. The Sixers completed a clean sweep against Indy for the season and collected their eighth consecutive win by a score of 141-121.

Let’s break down the Sixers’ win Pacers.

Sixers player notes:

Joel Embiid: 31 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 blocks, 10-15 FG shooting

After scoring 38 points in only 29 minutes last night in the Sixers’ easy win over the Charlotte Hornets, Embiid became the first Philly player to score 30 points in nine consecutive games and again played just 29 minutes. Yet, he also made sure to not force the issue and made the right pass on the many instances where the Pacers threw multiple bodies at him.

Games like these where Harden is out and he opts to make the right plays instead of just hunting a gaudy scoring figure prove his dedication to winning and ability to adapt his game when the Sixers need it.

Tyrese Maxey: 31 points, 2 rebounds, 7 assists, 12-18 FG shooting

Maxey was a key contributor when the Sixers and Pacers last met, providing 24 points on 8-13 shooting in a high-scoring track meet. He nearly matched that stat line in just the first half, scoring at will in a variety of ways. The Pacers were not taking his speed lightly and yet he was a walking bucket from start to finish, recording a game-high five triples.

De’Anthony Melton: 14 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 steals, 6-10 FG shooting

Melton was a menace that the Pacers just could not shake off. His defense was tremendous, forcing turnovers like clockwork and shooting the ball well. He was close to tying his career-high in steals.

Tobias Harris: 24 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, 9-12 FG shooting

It has been a few weeks since Harris scored the ball efficiently at the volume of shots he usually has. Once again, he looked confident on offense. Although his defense was often rough, that was the case for many of his teammates.

Pacers player notes:

Andrew Nembhard: 22 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 9-14 FG shooting

Without Haliburton, the Pacers really needed to pick up the slack offensively. Much of the responsibility fell to Nembhard, who exposed the Sixers’ less-than-impressive perimeter defense by muscling his way to the hoop.

Myles Turner: 20 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 7-12 FG shooting

Turner was able to stick with Embiid without fouling as much but still couldn’t fully slow him down. Because he had to stick with him and other Pacers pinched in to help, it gave Embiid the space to make the right passes. He had a strong third quarter to keep Indiana in it but

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Aaron Nesmith: 25 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 9-16 FG shooting

Nesmith’s scoring — most of which came at the rim and from deep — gave him a career-high in points. He was also one of Indiana’s best rebounders, not that that says much.

Game recap:

1st half

With Harden (injury recovery) and P.J. Tucker (left ankle soreness) inactive, De’Anthony Melton and Danuel House Jr. started while Jalen McDaniels was available after missing the last two games. Aaron Nesmith started in Haliburton’s place for Indiana, who was also without key bench guards Bennedict Mathurin and Chris Duarte.

The Sixers took a little bit to figure out how to attack on offense. Embiid looked to make things happen from the high post but the Indiana defense didn’t give him much space to operate. Usually, the big man gets going early for the Sixers and shoots a lion’s share of the shots. This time, the shot distribution was more even. It was Maxey’s scoring that sparked a 14-0 run after a few minutes of feeling things out.

Without Haliburton, the Pacers moved the ball around but couldn’t get any clean looks aside from the times the Sixers left not-so-good shots open. They committed four early turnovers and fell down by as much as 11 points once Embiid shook off a cold start. De’Anthony Melton had three steals in the first quarter alone, ending the period with a steal-and-slam to put the Sixers up by 10.

Dewayne Dedmon got his first non-garbage-time minutes, subbing in for Paul Reed after he picked up two fouls. Neither team’s second units (which also included Maxey and Hield) could get a stop. The Sixers’ transition defense was particularly rough as T.J. McConnell stepped up to push the pace and get rim pressure for Indiana.

Maxey and Embiid helped the Sixers pull away with some tough buckets. They fought off tough contests from Indiana defenders to convert on drives to the hoop. Maxey, in particular, was in the zone and made nearly everything he put up. The Sixers led 71-61 at the break.

2nd half

Embiid generated plenty of points and stops to start the second half. He found the hoop from awkward angles while also swinging the ball to get his teammates involved, proving that even on his less impressive games, he can take over games when needed. Nembhard played a big part in keeping the Pacers within striking distance but not stopping the Philly offense — which had made 21 of its previous 23 buckets at one point — was the source of Indiana’s demise.

The Pacers tried going with Turner as a roamer and putting a smaller defender on Embiid but he still had no issue getting up shots and establishing paint positioning. Indiana tried doubling him with Turner but it only resulted in Sixers finding themselves wide open. Embiid had 16 third-quarter points after only 15 in the first half.

Meanwhile, House threw down a dunk right on Nembhard’s head but the rookie had established his position, resulting in an offensive foul. Also, Melton continued to hunt the ball like a shark that smells blood, providing stingy defense to complement Embiid’s rim protection. He provided another steal-and-slam sequence a few minutes after deflecting a pass. Still, Indiana kept up with Philly as each team scored 34 points in the third quarter and only saw scoring from four players.

Despite his earlier foul trouble, Reed got another crack at playing time to start the fourth quarter. He finished a lob from Maxey and still gave a good effort on defense. The Sixers were able to get into the paint and draw fouls to protect their lead. Shake Milton’s rim pressure was very helpful, as were some nice plays from Harris, as Indiana lost steam and failed to make it a close one down the stretch. Jaden Springer helped close things out with some tough on-ball defense and a nice dish to Reed for a dunk.

Random thoughts:

  • I noted previously that Jalen Smith is a secret Sixers killer. I hesitate to fully call him that because he hasn’t really changed the course of games but each of his four games against the Sixers has been in his top-20 highest-scoring games of the season. Tonight he had 13 points on 4-8 shooting.
  • House being good for a highlight-reel play almost every game he gets real minutes in makes him a delight to watch, in my opinion.

The Sixers will head back to Philly on Monday to face the Chicago Bulls and honor the 1982-83 championship-winning squad.