By Dylan MacKinnon
It was a tale of two numbers tonight. When Embiid was on the floor, the Sixers dominated the Pacers. He was +20 in 39 minutes. Meanwhile, when Embiid came off, they nearly blew the huge lead they had over Indiana. They were -11 in the minutes he was on the bench. But those ugly bench minutes were not enough to sink the Sixers. They beat the Pacers 131-122 on a night they set a team record for both 3pters in a half and 3pters in a game. Embiid’s dominant performance carried the Sixers to their 49th win of the year.
It was a historic first half for the Sixers. They hit 17 3pters as a team, breaking the previous franchise record for 3s in a half of 14. At one point in the first half, it looked like the story was going to be Tobias Harris quickly nailing 4 3pters. But Tyrese Maxey was not about to cede the spotlight. He hit 7 3pters in the half, in just 9 attempts. It was a new career-high for him in a game, and he only needed a half to set it. And with Maxey raining 3’s, Joel Embiid scoring 27 in a half somehow went under the radar. At the half, they had a lofty 23pt lead. But even after the great performance he had, it was the 3 Maxey missed that was first on his mind when he spoke to Tom McGinnis after the win.
“I’m really mad at myself, I got a wide-open one in the corner in the 4th, and those have to go down man.”
Here is just a small taste of Maxey’s amazing half, as called by Tom McGinnis.
Not 1, not 2, not 3, but 7 3pters from Tyrese Maxey in the first half. He helped propel the @sixers to a lofty 82-59 lead at halftime. Here is just a small collection of his historic half vs the Pacers, as called by Tom McGinnis. pic.twitter.com/yAvBRJ8B2G— 975TheFanatic (@975TheFanatic) April 6, 2022
The Sixers saw that lead dwindle in the 3rd quarter though. They entered the 2nd half up 23. 12 in game minutes later it was down to just 8. They let the Pacers drop 40 on them in the quarter. They were still up 16 when Embiid went to the bench with 2 minutes left in the frame. It took just those two minutes for that lead to dwindle with Deandre Jordan on the court. The Embiid-less minutes did not improve in the 4th quarter. The lead got down to 111-106 before Embiid was forced back into the game after Jordan was assessed with a Flagrant 2. They were -11 with Jordan on the floor.
But once Embiid got back on the floor, things seemed to calm down. The lead got back up as high as 12, and they ended up winning by 9 after Tyrese Haliburton hit a 3 in garbage time. Embiid finished with 45pts, and 13 rebounds. It is his 12th game this year with 40pts and 10rebs, matching the heights only Moses Malone and Russell Westbrook have reached since the NBA Merger. By the way both of those players won MVP the year they accomplished that.
With Embiid’s dominant performance carrying them to this win, they find themselves tied with the Celtics at 49-30. They await the results of the Bucks game to see where they end the night in the standings. If the Bucks win, all 3 teams will be at 49-30, with 3 games a piece left to go. They both hold the tiebreaker over the Sixers, so for the Sixers to pass them for the two seed they will need to take sole possession of second place.
They have the night off, before traveling to Toronto to face the Raptors. After that they return home to face the Pacers on Saturday, and the Pistons on Sunday. If the Sixers win out, they are guaranteed the 3 seed, since the Celtics and Bucks will play each other Thursday night.